As we settle in to our surroundings for the summer, there are a couple of highlights thus far that I would like to discuss. For starters, Rabbi Adam’s goodbye service, in my opinion, epitomizes what Memphis is all about: community. Adam came here just six short years ago, and anyone sitting in Temple Israel’s main sanctuary that day could plainly see how this community, how we as Memphians, took Adam and his family in as part of our own. I am confident that such hospitality, such friendliness, does not happen everywhere else. In the next few years, as I weigh job opportunities in different cities, Adam’s goodbye service will surely be in the back of my mind.
Another highlight was the canoe trip. Lacking the canoe expertise of many, it is fair to say that the Ghost River had its way with me more than I had my way with it (Alyssa can attest to this). There were numerous times during the seven hour period where frustration kicked-in full force. Nevertheless, even after our canoe capsized, Alyssa and I finished. That sense of accomplishment, finishing something that just hours ago seemed impossible, was truly rewarding. It is safe to say many of my fellow fellows were having similar struggles, but every single one of us finished. In my view, the canoe trip endeavor exemplifies what being a young professional, in any city, is all about: perseverance. As many of us enter the work force, the first few years will probably be the longest hours and littlest pay we receive during our professional careers. But it will be determination and perseverance that assure our professional success, just as it assured our successful completion of the Ghost River.
As we wrap up week three of the Temple Israel Fellowship, I know I made the right choice with my summer. Not only have I come to a better understanding of what it means to be a professional in Memphis, but I appreciate all that encompasses being a Jewish professional in this wonderful city.
The 2014 Temple Israel Fellowship program is off to an amazing start. From meeting the Mayor of Memphis to taking an 8-mile canoe trip through the Wolf River, we’ve had some really remarkable experiences in the two short weeks we’ve been here. I feel like we have already learned so much about Memphis through this program. Its politics, its geography, its history, its Jewish community- and it hasn’t even been a month yet! Although I am from Jackson, Tennessee, and visited Memphis numerous times throughout my childhood, I never had the chance to explore all that this city has to offer. I love living in Memphis and being able to share this experience with the 15 other fellows. The museums, streets, restaurants, parks, residential areas, and synagogues are vibrant and I know we have plenty more to discover. This past week we went on a tour of the Church Health Center and were able to speak with Dr. Scott Morris, the founder of this wonderful organization. His story was inspiring. Our canoe adventure was a challenging yet rewarding experience. The group developed as a team and bonded over the course of 8 miles by being placed on a river with just a canoe and two paddles. Another extremely positive experience that we had was Friday night Shabbat and dinner at Temple Israel. With Rabbi Grossman’s departure, I couldn’t help but feel extremely sad for the Jewish community in Memphis. He obviously touched the lives of many people and I wish that we had the opportunity to spend more time with him. But being a college student, I can understand that he will do amazing things for the University of Florida’s Jewish community. I’ve had more professional opportunities these past two weeks than I have had in my entire life. From attending networking events through the New Memphis Institute to planning our own networking event at my job site, The Jewish Federation of Memphis, I am learning and practicing key professional skills. I am looking forward to the weeks to come!