Shabbat never meant anything special to me. Sing a few songs, light a few candles. Sure, it was a nice time, but it always felt a little monotonous and forced. I felt this way until I joined the TI Fellowship. Every Friday night, a designated group of four fellows (our pods, as they are so lovingly referred to) hosts a night of food and games, and to teach an aspect of Judaism to the group. Last week, we learned that there isn’t a parsha about special occasions/holidays until the very end of the Torah. In Judaism, it is more important to focus on the day-to-day so that we may appreciate little moments in life.
When we all are together on Shabbat, I finally feel at rest and able to celebrate the week with my friends. Also, I’ve found it surprisingly rewarding to have this time to reflect on the events of the week and the work I’ve accomplished at my internship. Transitioning from the university environment to the work environment was stressful, but I now appreciate the time I have with friends more than ever, compelling me to fall in love with Shabbat.
It is said “more than Israel has kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept Israel.” I interpret this as saying that Shabbat is a way to cope with the daily stresses that life brings. Having a day of rest has saved the Jewish people as it has given us an outlet to escape from the troubles of the rest of the week. So, Shabbat is no longer a time that is forced upon me, but a time that is exalted and respected. I plan to celebrate Shabbat every Friday for the rest of my life and am thankful to have learned its significance.
One of the things that I have enjoyed most about the Fellowship and my summer in Memphis is that I am constantly doing something with my new group of friends. Whether it is a Fellowship event or not, it seems that we never stop going (which is a good thing)! This past week was no different.
After work on Tuesdays, a few fellows go to the MJCC to get a game of pick-up basketball game together. It has been a great way to meet other Jews in Memphis as well as burn off some of the great barbeque that I have been eating. On Wednesday, after a full and busy day at the office, I met three of the other fellows at the golf course for a quick 9 holes. It was a beautiful summer afternoon in Memphis and a great two hours on the course with Joey, Max, and Jeremy. We then headed straight to Max’s house for a great home cooked meal before going back to the Bluffs. That is one of my favorite things about the Memphis Jewish community – the impromptu gatherings of friends to share delicious meals. Everyone has made me feel right at home this summer.
After a half day of work on Friday, the fellows met downtown to listen to a presentation from the CEO of StartCo. It was really interesting to hear the plans of small business owners with big ideas. However, after the presentation, my “pod” had to run back to the apartments to get everything ready for our Shabbat dinner. Mira and Alyssa prepared some side dishes and desserts, while Adam and I were in charge of the meat, drinks, and picking up some of Ricki’s famous Challah. This was our second Fellowship Shabbat dinner and I have really enjoyed both of them. They have been a great way for the fellows to bond and spend some time all together while relaxing on Shabbat.
To end the week, the Fellows were treated to tickets to a concert at the Botanical Gardens featuring The Plain White Tee’s, Daughtry, and The Goo Goo Dolls. To me, there is not much better than sitting outside at a really cool venue and listening to live music with a bunch of friends. We brought some food and drinks to enjoy during an amazing summer night.
The Fellowship has kept me busy in all of the best ways possible. I’ve interacted with influential leaders and met many new friends in and out of our group. The summer is flying by but I am really excited for what these last three weeks have to offer.