The latest video from our friends on the Memphis Recruitment Committee, the team behind 100newfamilies.com, is a fun slice-of-life from the heart of Jewish Memphis. You might have seen it making the rounds on social media, where it grabbed something like 4,000 views in the first 24 hours of its release. In case you missed it, enjoy:
We talked with Jessica Baum Sukhodolsky, Jewish education professional and a key member the Memphis Recruitment Committee and 100newfamilies.com, about the Purim video and about the initiative to attract Jewish families to join the thriving Memphis community. JCP has partnered with the Committee on their efforts to attract families to the area, providing funding for the Taste of Jewish Memphis event.
First, tell us about the Committee and what your goals and methods are.
As much as people talk about the vibrancy of the Memphis Jewish community, you don’t really get a sense of it until you visit here. We created an incentive package so it would make it easier for people to be able to come and experience the community.
We can describe how wonderful the community is, but we can’t expect people to dish out hundreds of dollars for the flights if they’re not really sure it’s the right place. We also decided we didn’t want to cover people’s flights entirely. We wanted to ensure they were genuinely interested in relocating to Memphis.
Little by little we made connections with different companies in Memphis, a couple of headhunters. We made connections with Jewish professionals in the community in different fields to help people find jobs, and then we made the website to make it easier for people to look at houses and prices in the Jewish area. It’s continued to evolve from there. In the past two years we’ve gotten fifteen families each year to move here.
This year we have at least five families planning on moving for the upcoming school year so far, but also several others who are interested and looking for jobs. This is the crazy part of the year when people really start to think about the fact that the school year’s ending, and what will the plan be for next year? Especially in the North East, just thinking about the cost of Jewish education, Memphis makes a lot of sense.
This video has gotten a lot of attention, and adds to the potency of your message: The Memphis Jewish community is uniquely cohesive, collaborative, and welcoming.
It’s funny because when I became involved in the committee, I had no idea how to make video at all, any kind of video. Any sort of ad, I didn’t know any of that stuff. I do our ads now, and any videos that come out. It’s been really fun for the people on the committee because we’re learning a lot.
We’re really lucky in that we have this wonderful community to work with. The great thing is that we’re not trying to sell an awful product, you know? We’re selling this amazing, friendly community. I feel it’s been very successful. The word is finally out about the Memphis Jewish community. We’ve gotten a lot of feedback from people in Jewish communities all over the country, and in Israel. We have two families moving next year from Israel, and they saw our messaging online, which is wild.
We like the authentic nature of the video, kind of capturing people in their joyous, unguarded moments. There’s an honest warmth that comes across.
Seth Kaufman gave us the idea for the video. He thought that we should highlight the fact that unlike other communities around the U.S. who were experiencing bitter cold and snow, we were actually able to enjoy the holiday outdoors. Joel Siegel started taking videos of community members during the morning festivities. He also went to the Chabad dinner and took videos and photos there as well. Joel is an integral part of our committee and much of what we are able to accomplish would not be possible without his tireless efforts. The big dinner in the video with over 400 people, at Baron Hirsch, with Anshei, and Young Israel all together at the dinner, was a perfect setting. It was nice that there was so much going on all in one day, and we were able to capture so much of it.
I think the best thing about this video and why it did so well was that it was so genuine. It’s maybe a little cheesy in the beginning, playing on the sunny Memphis thing, but you see genuine happiness and dancing, and everybody having a great time. None of it was staged. Towards the end I would just say: “Tell me something about your day. Whatever you want to say. Tell me about your Purim. What happened today?”
It was just people speaking from the heart.