The Jewish Observer
News from Middle Tennessee's Jewish Community | Sunday, June 23, 2024
The Jewish Observer

Happy Summer, Jewish Nashville!

As we approach these summer months, there’s so much to look forward to. Seeing the community around the JCC Pool, the fact that my kids will be gone for an entire month at their favorite place in the world, Camp Ramah Darom, my 21st wedding anniversary, or my daughter’s bat mitzvah coming up before Labor Day. Okay, perhaps that last part is more panic inducing. But still, something to look forward to. 
When my wife and I moved to Nashville in the summer of 2005, we were so very lucky.  We were immediately embraced by the community, found a home, made friends, I became an Athens AZA BBYO advisor, and my wife and I were invited to be on boards. To be honest, Jewish Federation was not my entry point, but it wasn’t long until I became connected with Federation and learned the important role that it played in the community. 
Jewish Federation of Greater Nashville did a great job of connecting me with folks all over the city, and more importantly, JFed Nashville helped connect me with the rich history of this community and told me the stories of all that our Federation has done over the decades to support our community as a whole locally and also abroad. It gave me great respect for the folks who generationally made this community what it is today, and inspired me to do my part to continue that legacy. 
What we are currently seeing is that there is an entire cohort of people that moved here during the pandemic era that either did not have the gift of being connected to the community or are just now starting to venture out into the world, and Jewish Nashville.  And the reality is that because of everything that is going on nationally and internationally, there is an intense desire to connect with other fellow Jews, as they may not have those safe spaces to talk about issues that concern them in their neighborhoods or workplaces. 

As an organization, we have the resources and “map” to help newcomers make those connections, to get dialed into the community in a way that is meaningful to them.  And the reality is that what worked for my family in 2005 is not necessarily what will work for the average person in 2024. And that is wonderful – we want to help connect people with what they need wherever they are and meet them where they are at, so to speak. 
But we can’t do it alone. My simple ask is that if you find people who are new to our community, that you embrace them as kindly as we were welcomed almost 20 years ago.  Invite them to shabbat dinners, take them to coffee, give them a challah, and connect them to us. We’ll help them find their Nashville home, wherever that may be; be it at a shul, Moshe House, a great program at the JCC, a partner organization outside of Nashville, a meaningful service project, or the next NowGen Happy Hour – I can’t even begin to cover everything in one article!  And together we will help to continue our great Jewish Nashville legacy. 


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