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Pictured Below: Dorothy Goldwin (L) Michelle Goldwin Kaufman (R)

Memphis Jewish Federation has announced that the mother-daughter team of Dorothy Goldwin and Michelle Goldwin Kaufman will chair its 61st Annual Yom HaShoah Commemoration, taking place this year on Monday, April 17 at 6:30 P.M. in the Belz Social Hall of the Memphis Jewish Community Center.

Dorothy is the daughter of Holocaust survivors Mayer and Paula Kelman, of blessed memory.

No stranger to the planning of Yom HaShoah, Dorothy has been an active member of Federation’s Holocaust Memorial Committee for decades including serving as chair of Yom HaShoah and as co-chair with her brother, Marty Kelman, in 2013 and 2014.

Dorothy is married to Dr. Robert Goldwin and has two daughters, Michelle Goldwin Kaufman, and Cara Goldwin Munekata along with four grandchildren, Max, Nora, Molly, and Parker. Dorothy is currently on the board of Kavod-Ensuring Dignity for Holocaust Survivors and a past board member of Plough Towers and Bornblum Jewish Community School. Dorothy frequently visits West Clinic with her therapy dog, Leo. Serving as co- chair with my daughter Michelle is an honor and privilege,” said Dorothy. My mom and dad would be so proud knowing their legacy is being remembered. I have always felt so strongly about the need ‘To Remember’ and will always work to ensure that the memory of my family and the six million Jews who perished will be kept alive.”

Michelle moved back to Memphis in 2020 with her husband, Jay Kaufman, and two children, Max and Nora. A clinical psychologist, Michelle is an adjunct professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Memphis and sees therapy clients in private practice. In 2021, Michelle joined the newly formed Education subcommittee of Federation’s Holocaust Memorial Committee in order to help provide Holocaust education in the broader Memphis community. “I can remember watching my mom and uncle co-chair when I was a child, and I’m so honored to now be serving as a co-chair for this important program,” said Michelle.  

“We are thankful for Dorothy and Michelle’s leadership,” said Bluma Zuckerbrot-Finkelstein, Executive Vice President of Memphis Jewish Federation. “They are inspiring role models for their commitment to preserving the legacy of the Holocaust in our community.”

The Holocaust Memorial Committee has selected Tova Friedman to be this year’s keynote speaker. Tova is one of the youngest child survivors of Auschwitz and was liberated with her mother at the age of six.

Tova recently co-authored The Daughter of Auschwitz, a powerful memoir telling her story of living and surviving the notorious death camp.

“I had the privilege of meeting many survivors when I was a child and hearing their stories directly,” noted Michelle. I am excited for our youth to have the opportunity to hear a Holocaust survivor speak in-person, an opportunity that cannot be taken for granted as time passes.

“We know that Tova will educate and inspire attendees of all ages with her resilience and her commitment to ‘Never Forget.’”

A moving and inspiring book about courage and hope, The Daughter of Auschwitz is on special display and available for purchase at Novel bookstore, 387 Perkins Extended.

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Steve Blen, son of Alison and Scott Blen is a junior at Memphis University School. Memphis Jewish Federation’s Lemsky Endowment Fund provided him with a Teen Israel Experience grant to help offset the cost of NFTY Jacobs Camp Israel trip last summer. All rising high school juniors and seniors in the Memphis Jewish community are eligible for grants up to $3,000 to attend a recognized teen summer or semester program in Israel. Applications for Summer 2023 are now available online. To learn more and apply, please go to:

I have gone to camp every summer since I was 8 years old, and I have been with the same people for all of these years.  I will never forget this past summer learning and having fun in Israel with my lifelong friends from Jacobs Camp.  Rabbi Jeff Dreifus flew to Israel with my group and was with us for the first Shabbat at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.  We took a picture with him and the Memphis kids on my trip.

My favorite part of the trip was the “Sea to Sea” excursion. We slept under the stars for four nights and met people from many other Jewish summer camps. We hiked in the desert, sat around campfires at night and saw beautiful scenery every day. I still keep in touch with some of the people I met.  I especially enjoyed the visits with Arab families and hearing about what their life was like.  These meetings gave me the opportunity to see things from their perspective and the chance to expand my world view. We also met people in the IDF and heard about their experiences.  I was surprised to learn that they were not much older than me and impressed by their bravery. 

I also enjoyed normal days where we just hung out in Israel playing volleyball with kids on the beach and visiting families in their homes. 

 I saw my first cousin, Sydney Ellen, who was interning in Tel Aviv, and I ran into my sister, Stella, in a flea market, while she was traveling on a BBYO trip. My twin sister, Sarah was on the same trip as me. It was very special to be so far away, and be with Rabbi Dreifus from Memphis, members of my family and my camp friends.

Thank you to Memphis Jewish Federation’s Lemsky Endowment Fund for helping to make my NFTY Jacobs Camp Israel trip possible.

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BeWell Memphis Team:  Pictured L to R: Rebecca Frary, Rashki Osina, Kayla Salomon and Emily Davis

By Melinda Lejman

For most families, the term “first-aid” likely conjures images of a kit filled with Band-Aids and antibacterial ointment used to treat skinned knees and minor cuts. But when it comes to navigating the more complex challenges of teen mental health issues, where do parents and their children turn? Thanks to a grant from Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), Memphis Jewish Federation (Federation) will now partner with Wendy and Avron Fogelman Jewish Family Service (Fogleman JFS) to launch BeWell Memphis and train facilitators to provide teen wellness strategies in the community. 

The $16,000 grant is part of JFNA’s BeWell: Helping Teens and Young Adults Thrive initiative in partnership with the Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies and is a response to national trends indicating teen wellness issues post-COVID. Recent statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health indicated that almost half of teens between the ages of 13-18 live with a mental disorder. 

Data collected by Federation via a parent and teen survey further indicated the need for mental health intervention. Of the teens surveyed, 78.9 percent reported experiencing excessive worrying, fear, and anxiety and 68 percent reported sadness or depression. Parents noted the difficulty of finding appropriate and affordable mental health services and the need for access to programming geared toward teens and families. 

Grant Beeber, a member of the Teen Wellness Task Force formed by Federation earlier this year, volunteered to go through the mental health first aid training. “I learned a lot regarding mental health disorders, stigma, challenges, and how to communicate with your peers,” shared Grant. “It really was eye-opening to me how much information is really behind this and I think when more people in our community experience it, we will all benefit.” 

The Teen Wellness Task Force, co-chaired by Rashki Osina, Fogelman JFS Director of Social Services, and Kayla Salomon, social worker with the Shelby County schools and BBYO advisor, was born out of Federation’s Needs Assessment and Planning Collaborative formed in early 2022. The purpose of the Collaborative is to establish a data-driven process that collects accurate and useful data to help determine community needs and necessary financial resources. Based on information and national trends exacerbated by the COVID pandemic, teen wellness was one of the early specific task forces formed as a result of the Collaborative. 

“A Federation collaborative can bring together all of the different agencies in the community and we have already seen huge success with the Senior Collaborative,” shared Susanne Landau, chair of the Needs Assessment and Planning Collaborative. “I think this is a role that Federation plays very well. One of the powerful things about this initiative and the other collaboratives is knowing that the issue really touches everyone.” 

The BeWell grant awarded from JFNA will be used to train facilitators in Youth Mental Health First Aid and Teen (Peer-to-Peer) Mental Health First Aid, including Emily Davis, LMSW, and Rebecca Frary, LPC-MHSP, both therapists at Fogelman JFS, as well as Teen Wellness co-chair Kayla Salomon. Once facilitators are trained in the First Aid programs, they will begin offering workshops to teens, parents, and teen professionals on how to recognize symptoms and signs in teens and encourage teens to seek help. 

“People forget that mental health is health,” says Kayla. “You know, if you have diabetes, you get medication for that. If you break a bone, you go to the doctor. [Mental health] is not embarrassing. And for us to be able to put a little bit of a Jewish twist on it makes it different from what you could normally get in the city.”

Although mental illness and mental health are becoming less stigmatized, it may not be a top priority for people to address, especially among teens with busy schedules. “We’re trying to break through that barrier by providing these courses that are nationally-known and evidence-based, where each participant gets a certificate after completing the course,” says Rashki. “And we are going to provide community service hours for the teens that come. So yes, we’re trying to teach, but also break through the stigma and these barriers that have been put up and have been very hard to break through.”

“A lot of times, teens are going to each other as the first line of defense,” adds therapist Emily Davis. “The course is empowering for teens to know what to look for among their friends as well. So, they can be an advocate for their friends and accepting of help.”

There is also an adult component for adults who work with teens to learn to spot things that might need to be addressed and provide resources that don’t necessarily require a professional. “It makes everything way more accessible, and decreases the need to go to multiple people or find a good therapist,” shares therapist Rebecca Frary. “It’s more about, ‘Have you tried self-care? What do you do to feel better? Here’s what I do to feel better.’ And it becomes more of a conversation and an exchange of information, as opposed to lessons learned from adults to kids.”

Mental Health First Aid trainings will be available at the Memphis Jewish Community Center. Please check the Fogelman JFS website for details on open classes and opportunities. The first class, open only to teen professionals who work in the Memphis Jewish community, will take place on February 15. Private trainings with an on-site facilitator are available for organizations for a small fee.

In addition to programming, per the grant requirements, Federation’s Teen Wellness Task Force will evolve into a Memphis Resiliency Roundtable modeled after JFNA’s national Resiliency Roundtable. The Memphis one will include representatives from all Jewish youth groups, schools, and synagogues, as well as community members passionate about this issue.

“I’m very excited that we were awarded a grant of $16,000, and we’ll use that money to train facilitators and empower teens and parents with the knowledge and strategies gained from the first aid courses,” shares Cindy Finestone, chair of Memphis Jewish Federation. “From there, with the help of Fogelman Jewish Family Service, we hope to gather feedback to see what’s resonating with our teens and what’s resonating with adults, and then follow up and offer additional programs to reverse some of the trends that we’re seeing.”

To learn more about BeWell Memphis, schedule an organizational on-site training, or to hear about other mental health services offered by Fogelman JFS, please contact Rashki Osina at

Susanne Landau, Chair, Federation’s Needs Assessment & Planning Collaborative
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Familiarizing Jewish Memphians to the land, people, and culture of Israel is a major priority for Memphis Jewish Federation, and anniversaries are a great opportunity to do it in a big way. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel, and to mark this significant milestone, Federation is rolling out a series of programs to celebrate Israel at 75.

“I’m excited about the slate of events we have, from small niche events to huge blow-outs reaching every corner of the community, and all so much in between,” said Jeri Moskovitz, Federation’s Israel at 75 Coordinator. “I’m sure there will be something to pique the interest of everyone in Jewish Memphis but even more than that, I’m certain that the year we have planned will bring Israel closer to Memphis in meaningful ways for everyone.”

Israel has been infused into events already on the community calendar such as adding sufganiyot (Israeli-style donuts) at Jewish Foundation of Memphis’ Latkes and Vodka event in December and serving Israeli cuisine at Federation’s Women’s Impact Luncheon in January.

In the upcoming months there will also be events specifically designed to highlight Israel. Two of those events are scheduled when representatives from Israel’s sister city, Shoham, visit in early February.  On Feb 7th, there is a Continuing Legal Education (CLE)-approved event for lawyers and Professional Advisors at Raymond James at 4:00pm with Shoham criminologist Dr. Ronit Peled-Laskov. A well-educated and captivating speaker, Dr. Peled-Laskov will present on how Israel deals with the rehabilitation of criminals, as compared to the approach taken in the United States. Moderated by U.S. District Court Judge Sheryl Lipman, the program is open to the entire community. Please RSVP your attendance to Carrie Richardson at

Also, on February 7th at 7:00 PM, all Memphis Jewish teens are invited to an Israel at 75 birthday party at Beth Sholom Synagogue where Amir Sela from Shoham will lead a conversation about Israeli pop culture and music. The celebration will include birthday cake, of course. Please RSVP to

On February 26th,  the Morris and Mollye Fogelman International Film Festival at the MJCC will feature the Israeli film, “Who are the Marcuses”, followed by a discussion with Rabbi Abe Schacter-Gampel and Paula Jacobson. The film delves into the lives of Holocaust refugees Lottie and Howard Marcus, who in 2016 left Ben-Gurion University of the Negev over a half billion dollars, the largest single charitable donation to the State of Israel in its history. The gift begged the questions: who are the Marcuses and where did they come up with this money? This documentary answers both those questions and examines the impact this gift has had on Israel’s vital water technology.

The community is in for a treat when on March 23rd, our own Alan Harkavy returns to Memphis for a “Conversation with Alan Harkavy: His Journey from Memphis to Israel.” Moderated by Karen and Jody Franklin, who have personally experienced touring Israel with Alan, the evening will include Israeli wine, stories and pictures.

The spring will bring additional events to celebrate our beloved Israel including a PJ Library birthday party, Israel at 75 Shabbat at the congregations, and a Lag B’Omer field day collaboration between the local Jewish Day Schools.  Jeri Moskovitz suggests you go ahead and mark your calendars for the adult community-wide celebration of Israel’s 75th Birthday on May 18th. “The goal of the night, in the spirit of the vastly successful ‘Taste of Israel,’ will be to transform Memphis Botanic Gardens to make you feel as if you have traveled to Israel without having to board a plane! Attendees will “travel” to different areas of the venue and visit different sites, sounds, textures, and flavors of Israel, whether it be music, food, wine, and even a shuk,” Jeri explained.   

“Jeri and all the committees she is working with have planned a fabulous calendar of programs with something for everyone to celebrate this historic milestone in Jewish history,” said Federation Executive Vice President Bluma Zuckerbrot-Finkelstein.

For more information on any of these events, please contact

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Stella Blen, daughter of Alison and Scott Blen is a senior at St. Mary’s Episcopal School. Memphis Jewish Federation’s Lemsky Endowment Fund provided her with a Teen Israel Experience grant to help offset the cost of her BBYO ISIL (International Leadership Seminar in Israel) Israel trip last summer. All rising high school juniors and seniors in the Memphis Jewish community are eligible for grants up to $3,000 to attend a recognized teen summer or semester program in Israel. Applications for Summer 2023 are now available online. Click here to learn more and apply.

By Stella Blen

Traveling to Israel this summer was one of the most magical experiences I have ever had. I had the opportunity to visit sites that I had been educated on for my entire life, and to see these historical and cultural landmarks in person was truly special.

We started off our journey in a kibbutz near the Kineret, and I did not know anybody on the trip at this point. The scenery was beautiful, the culture was thriving, and this stop was where I connected with so many other Jewish teens. We stayed there for around five days before traveling to Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv was rich with beautiful architecture and food, and we went on cool tours of the city. We would continue this cycle of staying in one city for two or three nights, then traveling to the next and repeating the cycle. 

My favorite place we traveled to was probably the Negev. We stayed in this cool Kibbutz right in the desert and had the opportunity to listen to interesting speakers. I loved hiking in the desert canyons. We went on a night hike when the stars were out and the moon was full, and it was absolutely beautiful.

Something I especially loved about my trip, BBYO ILSI (International Leadership Seminar in Israel) was that rather than being only with teens from the United States, I met people from all over the world. Sixteen different countries were represented on our trip, and I now have friends from Argentina, Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Canada, and many more countries. We all shared the common thread of Judaism, and it was a special feeling.

Not only did we get to experience important Jewish landmarks, but we all engaged in discussions surrounding issues with Israel itself. I remember when we all traveled to the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip (under the control of Hamas), and we sat in a circle discussing the conflicts between the two very divided nations. This conversation was extremely moving and definitely changed my perspective on the serious issue.

We also talked about anti-Jewish sentiment in the United States and the issues we face in our everyday lives as Jews. Having the opportunity to bond in our shared problems was really compelling and made me realize that I wasn’t alone. This discussion took place at Yad Vashem, one of the largest existing Holocaust museums and made me emotional to see all the evidence of the Holocaust. It was difficult but it is important to see these parts of Israel because it helps us understand who we are as Jews.

The last few days of the trip were some of my favorites. We climbed Masada, which was difficult, and I really did not think I could get to the top, but I did. We ended our journey at the Kotel. I loved going to the Kotel because I got to pray at the holiest site in Judaism. Overall, Israel was a phenomenal experience and I highly recommend it.

Thank you to Memphis Jewish Federation’s Lemsky Endowment Fund for helping to make my BBYO ISIL Israel trip possible.

Caption: Stella and other BBYO ISIL (International Leadership Seminar in Israel) participants from around the world enjoyed visiting historical landmarks throughout the country. Her trip was made possible in part with support from Teen Israel Experience Grant from Memphis Jewish Federation.

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A sold-out crowd of 256 Memphis Jewish women (and a few men) gathered on Tuesday, January 10 to support Memphis Jewish Federation’s annual campaign and celebrate Women of Strength Ricki Krupp and Alla Olswanger Lubin. 

The event was a showcase of Women of Strength through a Federation lens, featuring second-generation jeweler, third-generation Holocaust survivor, mother of four, and Brooklyn-based entrepreneur Freida Rothman as keynote speaker, and a touching spotlight on local Women of Strength Ricki Krupp and Alla Olswanger-Lubin. It was a celebration of Jewish philanthropy with women of every age represented and every segment of our Jewish community present, followed by an exclusive shopping opportunity with sales of Freida’s jewelry a portion of which will support Federation’s Annual Community Campaign.

“With the new year just beginning, we think about gratitude, about lessons we’ve learned. Personally, I have reflected on this amazing community I moved to five years ago, the friends and relationships I’ve built, and the great experiences my children and family have been lucky to have in this community,” said Jaclyn Marshall, who along with Debbie Rosenthal, Jody Shutzberg, and Jessica Sukholdolsky served as a co-chair of the event. 

“Look around this room,” she continued. “It’s because of women like you and your support of Federation that our community continues to thrive, and that we’re able to meet every need in our community.”

The narrative of women-driven impact threaded through the whole event, from the very name of the program all the way down to the signs identifying each guest’s table, which flashed words like ‘dependable’ and ‘tenacious.’  Beth Shalom synagogue’s Rabbi Sarit Horwitz led the group in Hamotzi and spoke about women’s roles at the vanguard of community activism. Through a web-based platform, guests contributed to a colorful word cloud, adding adjectives and nouns to a growing cluster of terms like ‘volunteering’ and ‘tzedakah’ that will become a permanent art piece in the Federation offices.

“Our Federation exists to fulfill two main purposes; to maintain a strong, cohesive local infrastructure which in turn ensures the continuity and wellbeing of the community, and to support Jews in need all over the world,” said Federation Past President Laurie Cooper, who introduced honorees Ricki Krupp and Alla Olswanger-Lubin.

“Ricki Krupp and her fantastic Ricki’s Cookie Corner & Bakery provide a constant presence that we all rely on,” said Laurie. “With her challah, Ricki is helping establish and maintain Jewish rituals and the Torah values of observing Shabbat and holidays at our family tables for all Jewish families, be they Reform, Conservative, or Orthodox. Not only does she enhance Jewish life in Memphis, she has also put us on the Jewish food map by shipping to customers all across the country.”

“When I moved back to Memphis many years ago, I kept hearing about this incredible woman who had moved here in my absence, Alla Olswanger-Lubin,” Laurie continued. “She had to hide her Jewish identity as a child in Ukraine, but today in Memphis, her children and grandchildren walk freely, and proudly say that they are Jewish, which means everything to her. (Because Federation supported her move to Memphis), Alla made a conscious decision to give back to the system that helped her establish a wonderful Jewish life in Memphis.”

After brief remarks touching on Federation’s ability to zoom out for big-picture snapshots of urgent community need and respond with comprehensive strategy, Campaign Director Judy Lansky introduced Elisheva Massel, Director of Strategic Partnerships for the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), one of Federation’s key global allies in its work.

“All of you have literally enabled miracles this year and over many, many years,” Elisheva said after a short video documenting JDCs ongoing work in war-torn Ukraine. “For the past 30 years, JDC has been working in this region, together with Federation, focusing on saving Jewish lives and building Jewish life. The infrastructure we’ve built there has allowed us to act quickly and effectively in times of crisis, and this is due in no small part to each and every one of you.”

For the keynote program of the afternoon, Jaclyn Marshall again came to the stage to welcome guest speaker Freida Rothman who she described as “an incredible woman, known internationally as a jewelry designer who channels her passion, strength, and resolve inherited from four Holocaust survivor grandparents into her iconic work.”

Responding to questions, Freida discussed her leap-of-faith in launching her Jewelry brand with inspiration coming from her beloved borough of Brooklyn.  She has used her jewelry brand, now carried in high-end retail stores such as Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom, to empower her teenage daughters to find their own professional and philanthropic path, and to preserve her family’s Holocaust stories for the betterment of society.

“When I introduce myself, I almost always feel compelled to include that dark history in my identity,” said Freida. “’Hi. I’m Freida Rothman, jewelry designer and granddaughter of four Holocaust survivors.’ I feel compelled to speak truth to their stories at every opportunity, to do my part to ensure history never repeats itself.”

Wrapping her segment, Freida challenged the women of Jewish Memphis to be conscious and intentional in their acts of tzedakah and community-building. She emphasized the role women have in activating their family’s philanthropy in a way that suits the unique realities of any given family at any given point in time.

To close the program, Laura Linder, President & CEO of Jewish Community Partners, which manages Memphis Jewish Federation, thanked the speakers, award winners, attendees, and those who couldn’t attend but do their part to sustain this community.

“Here today are 256 women who individually and as part of their families contribute more than $1.5 million to Federation’s Annual Community Campaign, each and every year. Your gifts, as you’ve heard this afternoon, do so much for so many,” said Laura. “Together, our impact is astounding. I hope you leave this event having a deeper appreciation for the special community we live in, and a renewed commitment to doing your part to make it even stronger.”

Jaclyn Marshall, Debbie Rosenthal, Jody Shutzberg, and Jessica Sukohldolsky Co-Chaired the event. The Host Committee included Maureen Baum, Suzanne Baum, Marion Bessoff, Ellee Breit, Jill Buring, Hallie Charney, Bari Eiseman, Jackie Evans, Janis Finan, Karen Franklin, Marlene Gerson, Shayna Giles, Myrna Halpern, Elana Kahane, Karen Karmel, Justin Katz, Lisa Kaufman, Karen Koplon, Barb Lansky, Danielle Lazarov, Debbie B. Lazarov, Emily Lennon, Aviva Lewis, Betsy Libby, Sharon Lubin, Lisa Menuskin, Lindsey Reef, Shelley Robbins, Hillary Samuels, Sophie Samuels, Stacy Siegler, Lisa Silver, Audrey Siskind, Jill Steinberg, and Kathy Wexler.

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Sarah Blen, daughter of Alison and Scott Blen, is a junior at St. Mary’s Episcopal School. Memphis Jewish Federation’s Lemsky Endowment Fund provided her with a Teen Israel Experience grant to help offset the cost of her NFTY Jacobs Camp Israel trip last summer. All rising high school juniors and seniors in the Memphis Jewish community are eligible for grants up to $3,000 to attend a recognized teen summer or semester program in Israel. Applications for Summer 2023 are now available online. Click here to learn more and apply.

By Sarah Blen

My trip to Israel was incredible. We went all over the country and did so much. All the food was so good and was like nothing I have ever had before.

In Jerusalem, the Old City was beautiful. I had always seen pictures online or in Sunday School but visiting was meaningful. We went to the Western Wall in Jerusalem on Shabbat and saw a lot of people praying. I especially enjoyed the things we did outside. Climbing through caves and digging in them was cool. In the desert, staying in the Bedouin tents was a fascinating experience, especially learning from the people in the tribes who lived there. My favorite constant was the hot tea we drank when we were in the desert during Sea to Sea.

Sea to Sea was probably one of my favorite parts of the trip. The hike made me feel accomplished. Our guide taught us about the stars, cooking skills, and about the plants that were around us. I will never look at sage the same way again. I had a really good time cooking with my friends in the middle of nowhere. We started by swimming in the sea of Galilee and ended by biking to the Mediterranean Sea. It took about 4 days, and we hiked on rocks and water for miles. I appreciated the free time we had in the shuks and markets. Although they were complex and easy to get lost in, there were so many different things you could buy and eat there. Most of the people who worked in the markets were very familiar with the teen trips to Israel, so they were patient with us when we did not know how to communicate. Although it was not necessarily Jewish, I loved seeing the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The art there was breathtaking, and I left with many questions.

Snorkeling in the Red Sea was also fun, and I saw many cool fish. I think going to Israel with my camp friends made the trip more meaningful. While we also made good friends with the other camps staying with us, I am glad my camp partnered with NFTY for the trip. I always look forward to seeing my camp friends every year, so this was the best. I found visiting the Druze people interesting as well. The food was good there and I honestly did not know that the culture existed, so it was nice to learn about them.  

Even the hotels with their leaky ceilings were fun experiences!

I recommend this trip to anyone who already loves their URJ and wants to see the Holy Land. Ultimately, my trip was the most fun I have ever had with the best people ever. I could without a doubt see myself visiting Israel again.

Thank you to Memphis Jewish Federation’s Lemsky Endowment Fund for helping to make my NFTY Jacobs Camp Israel trip possible.

Caption: Among scores of memorable experiences during her NFTY Jacobs Camp Israel trip last summer, Memphis teen Sarah Blen visited the Old City of Jerusalem. Her trip was made possible in part with support from a Teen Israel Experience Grant from Memphis Jewish Federation.

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By Shoshana Cenker

A native Memphian has returned to her roots in the community she loves. Laura Kaplan Paller is Jewish Community Partner’s (JCP) new VP of Finance & Operations, the role she began this past October.

“I oversee the day-to-day operational and financial management of JCP,” she explained.

After graduating with a business degree in risk management and insurance from the University of Georgia, Laura lived and worked in New York City for Marsh and McLennan. The next step in her career took her to Birmingham, Alabama, where she served as regional director of operations for an optometry group.

But Memphis came calling, literally. When a recruiter reached out about a position in Memphis, Laura’s father Michael encouraged her to consider. When Laura was offered the role of Director of Operations for University Clinical Health, she once again became a Memphian, this time by choice. During her five years in that position, she began thinking more and more about deepening her connections in the Jewish community. A spontaneous phone call to Laura Linder, JCP’s President & CEO paved the way to the start of her career as a Jewish professional in her hometown. Jewish Community Partners is the managing organization of the Jewish Foundation of Memphis and Memphis Jewish Federation.

“I’m a founding member of Memphis B’nai Tzedek, the Jewish Foundation of Memphis Teen Philanthropy Program, and I’ve been on Foundation’s board since 2020 as a representative for Anshei Sphard-Beth El Emeth,” Kaplan Paller said. “I had sworn I would never move back, but I love this community. Jewish Memphis has such unique qualities for a community our size. Coming to JCP feels like home, like a warm hug.”

Laura’s role consists of managing all shared resources — think finance, HR, marketing, technology, facilities, investments, compliance, and risk management.

“We are so thrilled that Laura has joined our team as Vice President of Finance & Operations. She brings incredible management and operations experience, but most importantly, she is deeply committed to our Jewish community and passionate about our work,” said Linder. “My personal relationship with her goes back decades to when she was a student in B’nai Tzedek. I’d like to think those early years of engagement in philanthropy had an impact on her career choice.”

 “I want my kids to grow up with same feeling of community — all the support they’ll ever a need, because people always step up here — and I want to be part of that, too,” Laura said. Married in 2019 to Jeffrey Paller, the happy couple has two children — Sadie is 2½ years old and Emma is 8 months. “My parents have been so involved in the Jewish community, it’s ingrained in us. It’s amazing to have the opportunity to continue the legacy my parents have shown for community involvement.”

“Laura’s previous work experience and insight as a former board member of Jewish Foundation of Memphis are great assets for our organizations and made her the right person for this position,” said Cindy Finestone, Chair of Memphis Jewish Federation. “She clearly understands our organizations, opportunities, and challenges, and I’m excited for her to be part of our professional staff. I also loved the fact that she was an alumni advisor of Foundation’s B’nai Tzedek Teen Philanthropy program.” 

“I’m very excited about the addition of Laura to the team,” said Jason Salomon, Jewish Foundation of Memphis Board Chair. “Her professional experience and passion for our Jewish community make her a perfect fit for JCP. I look forward to seeing her role grow in the organization. Additionally, with two Laura’s in the boardroom, I’d like to be the first to publicly lobby for the nickname ‘LP’!”

Laura can be reached at: or 901.767.7119.

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Memphis Jewish Federation has announced its fourteenth annual Holocaust Art and Essay Competition for Mid-South and Tennessee students in grades 6-12.

This year’s contest theme is Courage and Hope: The Holocaust Through the Eyes of a Child. Middle school students in grades 6-8 are invited to submit artwork, and high school students in grades 9-12 are invited to submit essays. Cash prizes for the top winners are made possible by the Kaethe Mela Family Memorial Fund of the Jewish Foundation of Memphis.

Students are invited to consider how children use courage and hope during the horror? How did children survive in hiding and in camps? How were children affected by their loss of education and childhood? How did children resist? Could a child’s imagination take them to a beautiful place and away from the harsh reality of living through the Holocaust?

“This annual competition serves to raise awareness of the Holocaust in both the Jewish and broader communities,” said Bluma Zuckerbrot-Finkelstein, Executive Vice President of Memphis Jewish Federation. “In our current era of rising antisemitism and rampant unfamiliarity with the Holocaust in the general community, this contest is sorely needed.”

As in previous years, all artwork entered into the competition will be displayed in the lobby of the Memphis Jewish Community Center.

Contest winners will be recognized at the 61st Annual Yom HaShoah Community Commemoration on Monday, April 17, 2023, featuring Tova Friedman. Tova is one of the youngest survivors of Auschwitz, author of The Daughter of Auschwitz, and featured in many Tik Toks known as Tova Toks telling her story.

The first-place winning essay will be published in the program booklet and the first-place winning artwork will adorn the cover of the program booklet. The winning essay will also be published in The Hebrew Watchman and this blog, and shared on social media.

All entries will be judged according to the following criteria: creativity, passion, and relevance to the topic. Full guidelines and resources for entrants are available here and should be carefully reviewed before submission.

Students should email their essays to  Artwork should be dropped off at the Memphis Jewish Federation following the published guidelines including photo of artwork and attachment emailed to All entries are due by the close of business on Monday, March 6, 2023. Please include entrants’ name, grade, school, and contact information.

For more information, please contact Lorraine Wolf at

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On Tuesday, January 10, 2023 the women of Jewish Memphis are invited to support Federation’s annual campaign and celebrate Women of Strength at a luncheon and VIP shopping experience. Ricki Krupp and Alla Olswanger-Lubin, two Memphis women who have each made a significant impact in our Jewish community, will be honored during the Impact Luncheon. Second generation jeweler, mother of four, and entrepreneur Freida Rothman will keynote the event.

“Both of these dynamic women have made this community richer in countless ways.  In simple terms, Ricki has nourished our bodies and Alla has nourished our hearts,” said Federation board chair Cindy Finestone who, along with event co-chairs Jaclyn Marshall, Debbie Rosenthal, Jody Shutzberg, and Jessica Baum Sukhodolsky, is part of the leadership team planning this exciting event. “Ricki is part of every family simcha in our Jewish community.  It doesn’t matter where you affiliate, every Jewish family values and savors Ricki’s challah and desserts! And Alla is known by everyone for her warmth, her smile and her incredible dedication to so many organizations.  She has spent her adult life dedicated to our Jewish community – including being a critical resource for Fogelman JFS when dozens of families from the FSU were resettled in the early 1990’s.  Now, most nights, she’s at a board meeting or volunteering by making calls for Federation’s campaign.  Everyone agrees that she is an incredible leader and advocate for Jews worldwide.”

The event will be held at 11:30 A.M., Tuesday January 10 in the Memphis Jewish Community Center’s Belz Social Hall. There is a $50 couvert, with attendance open to anyone whose household has pledged or commits to pledge $180 or more to Memphis Jewish Federation’s Annual Community Campaign. At the time of this writing, more than 130 tickets had been sold, with orders coming in consistently. Those who wish to attend are encouraged to act fast. Visit our website to learn more and buy tickets.  

“The Memphis Jewish community means everything to me, and every day I open the bakery, I feel honored to have my own special role to play here,” said Ricki Krupp, whose Ricki’s Cookie Corner & Bakery has been providing kosher challahs, pizzas, cakes, cookies, and, of course, chipsticks to the city’s Jewish households and beyond since 1980, and from her brick-and-mortar location at Eastgate Shopping Center since 2000. “I think of everyone who comes through our doors as a friend. I’m deeply touched to be honored at this event and look forward to seeing that big room filled with other women of strength.”

“Growing up in Kyiv, Ukraine, my parents always told me not to tell anybody I was Jewish. Every single day we worried about antisemitism and violence. I stood out like a sore thumb with my darker complexion, dark hair, and the dark eyes, but I never really talked about that,” said Alla Olswanger-Lubin, a prominent lay leader and philanthropist whose leadership and generosity has touched almost every corner of the community that first allowed her to live a richly Jewish life.

“What an incredible life I’ve found here,” she said. “I’m so very grateful that I can’t help but give back in any way I can think of. I just love, love, love helping people. It’s because I have always believed in treating people the way I want to be treated. Life is too short not to.”

Event attendees will also hear Freida Rothman’s amazing story, in part inspired by the legacy of four Holocaust survivor grandparents. Immediately following the event, those in attendance can participate in an exclusive shopping opportunity offering the latest inspired designs from Freida’s collection. 10% of each sale will benefit Federation’s Annual Campaign. 

“Our annual campaign is so critical to ensuring a vibrant Jewish community,” said Laura Linder, President & CEO of Jewish Community Partners, which manages Memphis Jewish Federation. “This event will bring together hundreds of women from every corner of our Jewish community to celebrate Alla and Ricki and to raise critical funds for Jewish needs here in Memphis, in Israel, and around the world.  We’re also excited that Elisheva Massel, Director, Strategic Partnerships at the Joint Distribution Committee, will be joining us to share stories of the impact of our gifts in supporting families across the world.” Under the leadership of the event co-chairs, a host committee representing every corner and age demographic of our community has assisted in planning the details of the event as well as recruitment.  The committee includes Maureen Baum, Suzanne Baum, Marion Bessoff, Ellee Breit, Jill Buring, Hallie Charney, Bari Eiseman, Jackie Evans, Janis Finan, Karen Franklin, Marlene Gerson, Shayna Giles, Margo Gruen, Myrna Halpern, Elana Kahane, Karen Karmel, Justin Katz, Lisa Kaufman, Karen Koplon, Barb Lansky, Danielle Lazarov, Debbie B. Lazarov, Emily Lennon, Danielle Levine, Aviva Lewis, Betsy Libby, Sharon Lubin, Lisa Menuskin, Lindsey Reef, Shelley Robbins, Hillary Samuels, Sophie Samuels, Stacy Siegler, Lisa Silver, Audrey Siskind, Jill Steinberg, and Kathy Wexler.

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