2016 Week 5 – Lainey Felsenthal and Caleb Hausman

It’s kind of like when you go to Jerry’s Sno Cones and get your favorite flavor, “Fuzzy Navel.” You picked out the flavor long ago because the name was funny, and since then you’ve been forever hooked; it now tastes like home. Your friend tells you they’ve never been, so you immediately get up and take them to Jerry’s to experience your favorite flavor and maybe write something they want to do before they die on the wall. Your friend laughs and smiles and can’t wait to come back and try infamous red Wedding Cake Supreme. That’s the feeling I have felt this summer by being able to show new people a city that I have grown to love and cherish throughout my first twenty years. The first view of downtown and the Pyramid, the first taste of Central BBQ nachos, the first step on Beale Street and watching the Beale Street Flippers, the ability to show new people around Memphis has not only been exciting, but it’s also been a blessing. I have discovered a new sense of appreciation for my hometown and have even been able to become a tourist in my own city.

I was hesitant to move back to Memphis for the summer. I did not think I would be able to get the work experience that I wanted in a mid-size city. But just like the people who doubted Mike Conley returning to the Grizzlies, I also was proven wrong. I have been given the opportunity to meet people from amazing, influential, and successful companies that are all based in Memphis, Tennessee. From FedEx to the Church Health Center, Memphis is thriving. Through my internship, I have been able to work for a company that manufactures and sells their products internationally and is one of the leading brands in its industry. The professional opportunities in Memphis are endless, and companies are seeking for young, creative minds who are looking to work hard.

I am excited to use the knowledge I have gained this summer when back at college and even in future career opportunities. From learning how to cook and navigating the grocery store to creating a marketable approach for items sold on Amazon, this summer has helped me grow and become more independent. I am thankful for being able to spend my time in Memphis, whether running through the trails in Overton Park or eating at every BBQ restaurant in the area, this city has accepted me into its community with open arms, and I will leave with a very full stomach.

– Lainey Felsenthal

National Civil Rights Museum

National Civil Rights Museum

This past weekend, we had the unique opportunity to visit the National Civil Rights Museum with Rabbi Micah Greenstein. This was a very moving and powerful experience, giving us all the chance to embed ourselves into the culture of change that runs through the veins of this city. The museum marched us through the American Civil Rights Movement and left us understanding the true gravity of this momentous period of modern American life. But Rabbi Greenstein added an extra layer of depth onto our experience, giving us the Judaic perspective on the movement and how intertwined Jewish leadership was with African-American leadership in Memphis at that time. This aspect of the tour definitely made it all the more meaningful for us as Jewish young professionals, seeking futures as changemakers in our communities.

This summer, I am working at Facing History and Ourselves, a global organization that trains teachers with the goal of creating more culturally competent and civically active classrooms. Specifically, I am supporting their urban education work right here in Memphis. The Facing History offices are right across the street from the Civil Rights Museum, and though I walk under the Lorraine Hotel sign every day on my way into work, I had yet to take advantage of all of the museum’s extraordinary resources prior to this weekend’s visit. This visit made me better understand the importance of the work of organizations such as Facing History, which helps the next generations of American leaders understand our racial past as a means to empower them to better these realities in the future.

Especially in the wake of the most recent in the series of never-ending wake up calls demanding us all to address our national racial inequities, lessons such as those taught at the Lorraine Motel become all the more valuable. There are difficult conversations to be had, yet the inspiring words of Dr. King and others in this movement teach us that these conversations are not only possible, but they are vital. Far from making us feel disenchanted about our current prospects for change, this visit showed us that with the right passion and courage, we too can spark profound change in our communities. Thus, this weekend’s tour of the National Civil Rights Museum put us all in the right place at the right time to begin to ponder how we can best follow in the footsteps of the great Memphians, and great Jewish Memphians, of generations past.

– Caleb Hausman

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