Newcomer Highlight December 2022

Meet this month’s newcomer, dentist David Smiley.

Welcome to the Observer's monthly Newcomer Column! Every month, we will be featuring one of our Nashville Jewish Newcomers so you can get to know them and their dynamic, engaging stories. One of my favorite parts of my job as the Federation's Newcomer Engagement Associate is connecting with the newcomers and bringing them into Nashville's Jewish community through our Newcomer Shabbat dinners, Newcomer Welcome Receptions, and connecting them with community members and organizations who can help them feel like they belong here. We hope you enjoy reading these and give every newcomer you meet a smile and a warm Nashville welcome!

If you would like to be part of the Federation's work welcoming new Jewish Nashvillians to our community or have an idea of something else we could be doing, please let me know at or 615-354-1664.

Tell us your story. Where are you from? How did you end up in Nashville?

I am originally from Greenville, South Carolina, and I attended the College of Charleston where I graduated with a degree in Biology. I have a passion for the great outdoors, so when I’m not working, you’ll likely find me taking an adventure to a new fly-fishing or backpacking spot. Growing up, I always had a desire to move out west to experience something different than the east coast, so after college I moved to a small town in Idaho where I worked as a Fisheries Biology Intern for a year, while simultaneously applying to dental school. I ended up in Portland, Oregon for dental school, which was probably the best 4 years of my life. One could argue that I did more fishing than dentistry, but needless to say I graduated and decided it was time to start moving my way back east to be closer to my family. I completed a 1-year dental residency in Richmond, Virginia, and I then found myself with an incredible opportunity to come work in Nashville, Tennessee at a well-established dental practice. I have now been here in Nashville just over a year, and it’s really starting to feel like home.

What has your Jewish story been like up to this point? How did you get involved with Nashville’s Jewish community?

Growing up in a small town in South Carolina, I was not exactly surrounded by many Jewish people. In fact, I was pretty much the only Jewish kid in my public high school of over 2,000 people. I ended up joining a Jewish fraternity in college, which although it was not a huge Jewish presence, it was certainly more than I was used to in the past. Once I moved to Nashville, I began searching for ways to get connected with the Jewish community more so than I ever have before, and it was honestly super easy. I joined a few Facebook groups that were centered toward young Jewish people, and that led me to find all sorts of opportunities for networking in the community. There are many events tailored toward young Jewish professionals in Nashville, and I have been able to meet so many like-minded people since moving here.

How has your experience been in Nashville so far? Any notable memories or experiences?

Nashville has treated me very well so far. I have made some great friends over this past year, and it seems like there is always something fun going on around the city. My most notable experience has been getting a puppy, named Sage. She has kept me very occupied and has been a great outdoor adventure buddy. Nashville has a lot of great little trails and outdoor parks around the city, and it is a very dog friendly area. Other than that, I have truly enjoyed working at the dental practice and getting to know my co-workers and patients.

What do you love about being Jewish?

My favorite part about being Jewish is the cultural aspect. I love celebrating the Jewish holidays and gathering with family and friends who all share a common belief. It also goes without saying that when you surround yourself with Jewish people, you just really feel at home - no matter where you are.

What do you love about being Jewish in Nashville?

Moving to a new city is never easy when you don’t know anyone, but being Jewish in Nashville has made the transition incredibly easy. The Jewish community here is very well connected and welcoming. There are always events going on whether they are at the Jewish Community Center, or one of the many Temples/Synagogues.

What does the next year look like for you? Is there anything that you are still looking to do or experience in Nashville?

The next year is looking great already. I have been working part-time at the dental practice, but will soon be transitioning to a full-time position. I am looking forward to helping grow the dental practice, and to continue rooting down in Nashville. This past year I focused a lot on both work and getting out in the community to meet people, but next year I plan to branch out and explore some of the surrounding areas such as Chattanooga and the Great Smoky Mountains.


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