This week was by far the most personally significant this summer. Unfortunately, my grandfather, Sumner Levine, passed away on June 27 while on vacation in Athens, Greece. I felt a strong sense of community as a Fellowship when we said Kaddish for Papa at the most recent Shabbat. I also felt the unanimously uplifting support of the entire Memphis Jewish community as hundreds of people visited my home to pay their respects. It was comforting to know that the community truly empathized with me and understood the loss that my grandfather’s absence meant to the city.
I also recently began studying with the head rabbi at Anshei Sphard Beth El Emeth (an orthodox synagogue in Memphis), Joel Finkelstein, whose passion for learning torah is inspiring. Although I have a vague understanding of the torah from my Jewish education, these sessions have given me a new found appreciation for the Torah as I am now better equipped to understand its symbolism and teachings than I was in grade school.
Participating in the TI Fellowship has been advantageous and rewarding for me thus far as I have been able to forge new relationships with 15 unique individuals that I would not have had the opportunity to meet otherwise. I am truly fortunate to be surrounded by so many friends who are at a similar stage in their careers and lives. Whether we are going to a concert at the Levitt Shell or celebrating in a fellow fellow’s apartment, this summer has already been filled with lasting memories, and I am sure there are many more on the horizon.
Hi everyone! My name is Elisa and I am an intern at The Exceptional Foundation of West Tennessee. I was born and raised in Memphis and although I have lived here my entire life, stumbling upon The Exceptional Foundation through the Temple Israel Fellowship has opened my eyes to a new world of professional work. EFWT is a non-profit that enriches the lives of people with intellectual disabilities by meeting their social, recreational and continued educational needs. With that being said, I get to do really amazing things at my internship including healthy baking, social skill activities, and weekly field trips. Also, I am able to teach American Sign Language to participants! My experience so far has been positive and I am excited to be a part of the Exceptional community.
I also would like to share my experience with Jewish activities so far on the Fellowship. The Fellows were divided into four groups, and each were assigned a week to plan a Shabbat dinner for everyone. My group was pod #1 and in order to prepare for Shabbat, Rachel, Jordan, and Ethan came over to my house and we cooked together. It was a great bonding experience and we hung out while preparing food for Shabbat. We also went shopping for Kiddush wine and Challah to use for the blessings. Rachel prepared a short d’var torah explaining the parsha of the week. Shabbat has always been an important part of my Jewish identity, and I was so glad the Fellowship encouraged us to incorporate Shabbat into our routine. After a long week at our internships, it was nice to have a meal with the fellows and relax.