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Happiness is a place, and it can be found at Jewish summer camps. There truly is something special about going to a place where children and teens are given opportunities to engage in exciting daily activities, experience a setting where Judaism is felt more acutely, and make long-lasting friendships. At Jewish summer camps, religious activities like Shabbat and services are special events to look forward to and often become some of the camper’s most cherished camp memories.
Memphis Jewish Federation helps strengthen Jewish identity and engagement by providing Jewish Camp Scholarships to eligible Memphis families. Funded from Federation’s Annual Community Campaign, these Jewish Camp Scholarships are available to rising 4th grade through 12th grade students who will be attending Jewish overnight camps under Jewish auspices.
“I’ve been told for years that one of the greatest gifts a Jewish child can receive is the opportunity to go to sleepaway camp. Unfortunately, as a single mother, this is not something that I am able to provide on my own,” wrote an anonymous parent. “I used to be of the mindset that if I can’t afford it, then I have no business sending my child to camp. But I’ve been told by countless people that this is what Federation is here for. In a nutshell, my child loves camp and she counts down the days until the next summer each year. Camp is the place where she has conquered many fears and overcome anxiety. It is the place where she had her first opportunity to read Torah. Without the help of Federation, my child would not have these and so many other wonderful and unforgettable opportunities and experiences. And for this I will be forever grateful!”
“I never wanted to go to camp because I was so scared to be away from home for so long. But I went, and I loved it, and I’ve kept on going back,” said an anonymous camper. “People think camp is all about having fun, and it really is. But Jewish camp is also a different kind of fun. I’ve met so many other Jewish kids from all over who I could have only met because of camp. I’ve learned more Hebrew and fun Hebrew music. I’ve learned cool stuff about Israel, and my favorite part of camp is Havdalah. I don’t know if I would realize how much those things mean to me if I didn’t go to camp.”
Due to limited funds, camp scholarships are awarded solely on the basis of financial need. An anonymous scholarship committee reviews all applications and all information is strictly confidential. Scholarship awards are paid directly to the camps, which then credit the camper’s account accordingly.
The deadline to submit camp scholarship applications is February 15, 2022. If you are interested in this opportunity, you can click here to learn more.
For more information or questions, please contact Carolyn Pruitt at or 901-767-7100

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Dr. Ilana Kwartin, a JAFI representative, is pictured lecturing at a joint board meeting of Jewish Community Partners, Jewish Foundation of Memphis and Memphis Jewish Federation.

As part of Memphis Jewish Federation’s strong commitment to Israel and global Jewry, Federation recently hosted its liaisons from overseas partners Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) and American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), to brief leadership and others in the Jewish community on its activities.

Dr. Ilana Kwartin, JAFI’s Regional Director of Western U.S. and Elisheva Massel, JDC’s Director of Strategic Partnerships, visited Memphis together in mid-November. JAFI and JDC are longtime partners of Federation, making up the bulk of its overseas granting. In addition to supporting the core programs of both agencies, Federation directs funds to JAFI’s Memphis-Shoham Partnership and to JDC’s Kharkov program aiding impoverished and elderly Jews in Ukraine.

A lawyer and women’s rights activist, Dr. Kwartin began her visit with a ‘Lunch and Learn’ for Jewish Communal Women Professionals on November 17, where she spoke about Israel’s new government and current women’s issues. She then delved into her own academic research and activism focusing on the hidden phenomenon of women in coercive, controlling relationships.

 “Dr. Kwartin is clearly an expert in her field and has so much to offer us about the intersection of law, politics, and gender in Israel,” shared Rabbi Sarit Horwitz of Beth Sholom Synagogue. “Her lecture was engaging, thoughtful, dynamic … She has so much to offer to our community, and to me personally as a feminist and a Zionist.”

At a special briefing for major donors, board members and Jewish leadership, Dr. Kwartin explained the intricacies of the Israeli political system and highlighted the unprecedented coming together of diverse political parties in the current government.

Later that evening, at a joint board meeting of Jewish Community Partners, Jewish Foundation of Memphis and Federation, both Dr. Kwartin and Elisheva Massel updated leadership on the critical work both agencies do in Israel and all over the Jewish world in caring for at risk and vulnerable Jews and in strengthening Jewish identity.

Together, they updated Federation’s Lemsky Endowment Fund Committee the next morning on Lemsky-funded projects in Israel that are helping Holocaust survivors, at-risk elementary school children and young adults, and Israeli soldiers grappling with their Jewish identity.

Elisheva Massel, JDC’s Director of Strategic Partnerships, is pictured facilitating a lecture for B’nai Tzedek students.

Twelve students who are part of the B’nai Tzedek Teen Philanthropy program at the Jewish Foundation of Memphis participated in two case studies facilitated by Elisheva Massel later that day. After the teens learned about what the JDC does and how it focuses its humanitarian work on countries outside of North America, the teens split into two groups.

One group discussed a situation of a natural disaster and how to survive. The second group had a more complicated experience when tasked with trying to figure out a way to leave a country being ruled by a dictator. After presenting their solutions to these precarious scenarios, the students heard firsthand how Elisheva herself left South Africa with her family. This was a unique experience for the teens who normally partake in learning about philanthropy locally, rather than on an international scale.

“I really enjoyed going to the recent B’nai Tzedek meeting where we listened to Elisheva from the JDC,” said Kyra J., a 9th grade student at St. Mary’s. “It was incredible learning about all the important work that they do. They help Jews in over 70 other countries. They provide assistance to elderly Jews and those living in poverty. They also help rescue Jews in danger and provide emergency funds for natural disasters.”  

To learn more and to get involved with Federation’s Israel and global Jewry work, please contact Federation Executive Vice President Bluma Zuckerbrot-Finkelstein at 901-767-7100 or

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Pictured are Memphis Jewish Federation Annual Community Campaign donors Jami and Adam Lazarov, along with their two children, Sonia and Audrey. Photo by Jen Howell.

“Jewish Memphis is a safe haven and a strong community that my children will always be able to turn to,” said Adam Lazarov. “Supporting it and making sure our institutions stay strong is important to me. When I donate to Memphis Jewish Federation, I know that it will go to agencies that support the Jewish community. It’s pretty similar to spreading out donations on my own, it’s just a more efficient way to do it.”

Fourth-generation Memphian Adam Lazarov grew up attending Jewish day school at Bornblum Jewish Community School (then known as Bornblum Solomon Schechter School), attended Sunday school at Temple Israel where he became Bar Mitzvah and was confirmed, and actively participated in BBYO.

“Philanthropy was always something that my parents valued when I was growing up, and I remember they were always very involved in the community,” said Adam of his parents, Debbie B. and Ron Lazarov, both active Jewish community leaders and philanthropists. A Memphis Jewish Federation Lion of Judah, Debbie is currently serving as Lions Co-Chair, is on the Federation Board of Directors, and is a member of the Lemsky Endowment Fund Committee. Ron serves on the Jewish Foundation of Memphis Board, is a member of Foundation’s Professional Advisory Group, and his wealth management firm, Kelman-Lazarov, Inc., also supports Federation and Foundation as a corporate partner.

“My dad is a past president of Bornblum. Even though he was incredibly busy with his business and other ventures and devoting lots of time, resources, and attention to those matters, his and my mom’s example taught me that giving back is always something that is really important for us to make time for,” said Adam.

After undergrad at University of Texas followed by Harvard Law School, Adam returned to Memphis in 2014 and now is an attorney for Indigo Agriculture.

“I like that it’s a mission-driven company, and everyone works really hard to bring profitability to farmers and throughout the agricultural supply chain while at the same time doing it in a manner that is proactively better for the environment,” said Adam.

Together, Adam and his wife Jami, who is the General Counsel for LifeLinc Corporation, have two children, ages 5 and 3 years old, and are expecting their third in a few months. Since becoming parents, the couple has developed an even deeper understanding of the many ways the Memphis Jewish community connects to and shapes Jewish life in our city.

“Memphis is a really fantastic place for Jewish families because it is a sizable Jewish community, but not overly-sizable,” said Adam. “You can take on leadership roles, be heavily involved, and make a real impact. I’m on the Bornblum Executive Committee because I love their mission of accepting any Jewish child in the community, regardless of whether the family is able to pay, and I think it’s amazing that Federation helps make that possible. Any Jewish family that wants to come to Memphis and connect their kids to a good Jewish education and a solid Jewish community to grow up in, Memphis offers that. That’s unique to Memphis and a big reason why I choose to support this community through Federation.”

“In a way, my philanthropy is a reflection of understanding how fortunate my family and I have been throughout our lives, and so it does feel that there is a need to give back and make sure that we reflect on that on a consistent basis,” said Adam.

Family is clearly a big influence on Adam, and when asked, he stated that his biggest inspiration in regards to philanthropy is his grandfather, Sidney Lazarov.

“My grandfather was somebody who impacted me in a number of ways,” said Adam. “He was very generous and was a resource for people that needed a lawyer and couldn’t afford one, particularly in the Jewish community.”

“I think that Judaism placing such strong value on helping others was probably a subconscious influence on me,” said Adam. “If I’m donating time or money to an organization, I’m not doing it to be a good Jew, per se, but I do think there are years and years of different lessons and values I’ve internalized, and being involved in the Memphis Jewish community has profoundly influenced me.”

To Adam Lazarov, philanthropy is about an individual doing their part as one piece in a much bigger puzzle and working together to create impact for the benefit of our entire community. In Federation, he’s found the perfect partner.

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“Considering how Jewish life in college begins long before a student steps foot on their college campus, I believe that it’s important for high school students to understand the Jewish landscape that awaits them after they graduate high school,” said Sophie Bloch, the Director of Hillels of Memphis. “College is the first time many Jewish teens explore Jewish identity on their own terms, so it’s important that they feel empowered to do so, and understand the role Hillel can play in helping them along their journey.”

Sophie was the featured guest teacher for a group of 8th-12th graders at Temple Israel’s High School program in mid-October. She led the students through discussions centered on college and Jewish identity, and engaged them with interactive exercises designed to bring the topics to life.

“I talked with the students about opportunities that college experience provides to explore identity and discover what Judaism means to them,” she said. “We talked about how religion and culture are experienced differently by every individual, and how finding what means the most to them may be the best place to start. We also talked about Israel and the complexities that having a relationship with the country can have on the campus experience. I wanted them to know a bit about what to expect as they embark on this thrilling but intimidating stage of life, and remind them that a Hillel can be an incredible campus resource, helping Jewish students explore their Judaism and connect with peers in a similar situation as themselves.”

“For most students, the transition from high school to college is as stressful as it is exciting. Having Sophie from Hillels of Memphis speak to the Temple Israel High Schoolers about how Hillel is dedicated to enriching their college experience through Judaism was priceless as they consider their college choices,” said Temple Israel’s Rabbi Jeff Dreifus. “Additionally, I loved her empowering message about using their new autonomy in college to be purposeful about their Judaism by reimagining how they connect and create community with people from cities from all across the country. Everyone appreciated Sophie’s insight.”

After Sophie’s lecture, the students made “life maps,” charting significant milestones, places, and people in their lives from birth to present day. They analyzed the items on their lists that were related to their Judaism, from their Bar/Bat Mitzvah, to Jewish summer camp experiences, to relationships with their grandparents. The exercise was designed to help students realize that many cherished memories are rooted in their Jewish experiences.

After other hands-on workshops, the conversation turned back to Israel.

“I wanted them to understand how Israel and Zionism factors in to Jewish identity, and how the teens could potentially navigate uncomfortable topics that they might encounter on campus around the subject of Israel, like the BDS movement and Antisemitism,” Sophie described.

The course ended with a segment exploring the online Hillel College Guide and Jewish Scholarship portal.

Through showing the teens the resources available to them, the students ultimately left the class with a better understanding of Judaism, what their religion personally means to them, how to respond to others’ negativity regarding Israel, and where to find helpful resources both at their college campus and online.

“This is one of the many examples of how Hillels of Memphis is a resource in the local Memphis Jewish community, even for teens just beginning to think about life beyond middle and high school, and what to look forward to when experiencing Jewish life in college,” said Sophie.

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“What’s really cool about Federation is that it has its hands in every part of the Jewish community,” said Shayna Giles, one of the younger donors to Memphis Jewish Federation’s Annual Community Campaign. “It’s not just Conservative, Reform, or Orthodox, and they don’t just help with one specific need in the community. The Federation exists to identify needs throughout the community and to help in any way people may need it. It is the most comprehensive organization that we have in our community, and it’s like an umbrella for everyone. I like donating to organizations that know more than I do about what the community needs.”

“Growing up here, it is kind of hard to not get involved in the Memphis Jewish community in one way or another. It has always been ingrained in me,” she said. “I don’t know if it’s because of my Jewish upbringing, or my family’s guidance, but it would feel weird to not stay involved. As a member of the community, you should give back to the institutions which have given you so much and help the community that has been and always will be there for you.”

Twenty-nine-year-old Shayna’s childhood was shaped by the Jewish community of her hometown. Going to Ramah Darom sleepaway camp and attending Jewish day school forged a connection between her Judaism and giving back.
“I grew up attending Beth Sholom Synagogue, and that is where I had my Bat Mitzvah. In middle school, my mom switched to Temple Israel and I went to both synagogues,” said Shayna. “I started attending religious school at Temple, so I was raised in both communities. I did Temple activities throughout high school, but I was still connected to Beth Sholom.”

“When I was younger, at my Bat Mitzvah age, it was popular to join B’nai Tzedek,” Shayna noted, referring to the Jewish Foundation of Memphis’ Teen Philanthropy program. “I ended up donating a portion of my Bat Mitzvah money to open a B’nai Tzedek fund, which was matched by anonymous funders of the program, so I was in a sense donating two-fold. It was a really cool way to donate to different organizations. Almost every year I donated to Susan G. Komen because everyone knows someone who has had breast cancer.”

Shayna’s commitment to her Judaism and Jewish Memphis continued while she was away at college at Tulane. Navigating a double major of Political Science/International Relations and Spanish, she still always found time to attend Shabbat dinners at the local Chabad. One summer, she participated in the inaugural cohort of Temple Israel’s ConnecTI Fellowship, designed as a recruitment effort to bring young people back to Memphis. She interned at Baker Donelson where she in fact returned, now as a full-time lawyer.

Despite a demanding schedule, Shayna manages to balance her career and her urge to give.

“A year or so after I moved back, Rabbi Bess Wohlner at Temple Israel reached out with an opportunity to help Bar and Bat Mitzvah students with speeches,” Shayna described. “I figured, given what I do, reading and writing for a living, this was a good way to contribute to my community in a way that’s not monetary. I’ve enjoyed it and I love working with them. My grandfather helped me with my speech when I was thirteen, and I see this as a way of paying that forward.”

Shayna’s deep commitment to philanthropy and giving back was nurtured by her parents, mother Lisa Menuskin and step-father Neil Gibson and father Scott Giles and step-mother Kim Giles, all active members of the Memphis Jewish community who made the decision to teach Shayna and her siblings, through word and deed, about tzedakah and the importance of giving back. Lisa and Neil are recent donors to Memphis Jewish Federation’s endowment campaign to support the Wendy and Avron B. Fogelman Jewish Family Service. Scott and Kim were very involved at Beth Sholom when Shayna was growing up, and Scott is the current Director of Facilities at Temple Israel.

Shayna’s connections to the Memphis Jewish community run deep, and she sets a high bar among her peers by giving back to the community. Whether giving her time, treasure, or talent, Shayna is always happy to help those in need.

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“I found the Newcomer event to be an excellent way to reconnect to my roots in Memphis. It reassured me that I made the right decision in moving back to my hometown,” said Ari Zelig, who recently returned to Memphis with his wife, Danielle. “The Memphis Jewish community is incredibly warm and supportive. I am most excited to carry on my family’s legacy as a third generation doctor in Memphis and make a difference and an impact in the community.”

The beautiful early fall day was perfect for Memphis Jewish Federation’s annual Newcomer event, held this year on October 17 at Shelby Farms Park, and organized by Federation’s Newcomer Initiative. Almost 50 newcomers, some returning to Memphis after years away and others brand-new to the community, were welcomed by a contingent of about 30 established locals, a diverse group made up of Federation and Jewish Foundation of Memphis board members and staff, rabbis and agency representatives, and lay leaders from the community.

The adult schmoozing and children’s activities were interrupted only to gather everyone together for more formal introductions led by Federation chair and event emcee Cindy Finestone and JCP President and CEO Laura Linder. After Cindy and Laura explained the critical roles of Federation and Foundation in the community, everyone was invited to introduce themselves and share a bit of their Memphis story, whether they’ve lived here for decades or are still unpacking boxes in their new home and getting settled.

“It was wonderful hearing from our newcomers about how family, exciting career opportunities, and the reputation of the Memphis Jewish community led to their making Memphis their new home or their home once again,” said Cindy. “Building and making new connections is always challenging when moving to a new community. Memphis Jewish Federation hopes that we made this a little easier with our newcomer get-together and that everyone had the opportunity to learn a little more about our community, meet other new families, and engage with our lay and professional leaders. And of course, this event could not have been possible without our wonderful Newcomer event volunteers: Michelle Glazer, Ruth Greenbaum, Susan Gross, Marci Hirsch, Kathy Wexler, and Abby Wilson.”

“I have found that everybody is so warm and friendly and welcoming in Memphis,” said Julie Neiman, a new Memphis resident. “I have three daughters, so being able to live near my daughter, Jaclyn, and my grandchildren is the biggest thrill and I’m so excited to be here just so we can spend time together. This is absolutely an exceptional community, like none other I have ever lived in. I tried to meet every single person in the room at the Newcomer event, because that’s just who I am. Everyone was really nice, and I absolutely enjoyed the event. With (the pandemic), I haven’t been out much, so it was great for me to be able to be out with people in this beautiful city that I can now call my home.”

Federation’s Newcomer Initiative also sends welcome bags to new members of the Jewish community filled with local goodies and materials introducing the resources of the community. If you would like to help welcome newcomers or if you know of new Jewish Memphians to be welcomed, please contact Miriam Roochvarg at or 901-767-7100. 

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Jewish Community Partners has recently on-boarded and promoted several professionals to further empower Memphis Jewish Federation and the Jewish Foundation of Memphis. Melinda Lejman, Steven Holman, and Lorraine Wolf have joined in key positions, while Sheri Gadberry, Bluma Zuckerbrot-Finkelstein, and Sarah VanderWalde have received much-deserved promotions.

Guided by its recently unveiled TomorrowStrong initiative, Jewish Community Partners announced several strategic hires and promotions that will further empower Memphis Jewish Federation and Jewish Foundation of Memphis to fulfil their respective missions. Bluma Zuckerbrot-Finkelstein of the Memphis Jewish Federation team and Sheri Gadberry and Sarah VanderWalde of the Jewish Foundation of Memphis have been promoted, and the team has welcomed new professionals Steven Holman, Melinda Lejman, and Lorraine Wolf.

Bluma Zuckerbrot-Finkelstein, with Federation for 12 years, has been promoted to Executive Vice President of Federation. In addition to her responsibilities managing or overseeing community planning, community relations, engagement programming, and Federation’s Israel and global Jewry agenda, she is now tasked with stepping up Federation’s efforts to combat antisemitism, overseeing Federation’s marketing and leadership engagement functions, and taking on governance responsibilities.

“I love going to work every day charged with the responsibility of strengthening that which I and my family hold dear: our Memphis Jewish community, our beloved Israel, and Jewish communities all over the world,” said Bluma. “I look forward to being able to do even more in my new, expanded role.”

Twenty-year Foundation veteran Sheri Gadberry stepped up into the role of Senior Philanthropic Officer of Jewish Community Partners and Executive Vice President of the Foundation. In these expanded roles, Sheri’s unique blend of passion and experience will guide organizational and governance meetings with board members, lay leaders, and committee members, while building relationships with the ever-increasing volume of philanthropists who partner with Foundation to shape their charitable giving plans. She will also continue to oversee the daily operations of the Foundation.

“Working with this community of donors for 20 years has been an incredible experience,” said Sheri. “Many have become close friends of mine, and I look forward to continuing our work together, connecting donors to the causes that motivate them to be philanthropic.”

Sarah VanderWalde is now shaping Jewish Memphis philanthropy as Director of Programs. She is tasked with running all of the Jewish Foundation of Memphis’ programming for B’nai Tzedek (teen philanthropy), the Professional Advisory Group, Life & Legacy, and donor advised fund holders. Sarah successfully ran the Foundation’s 25th anniversary celebrations in 2020 (which went virtual due to Covid-19) and is now focusing on the Strategic Plan for the future of the Foundation.

“I love the work that I do and actually started my career over 20 years ago in the non-profit sector at the University of Pennsylvania’s Hillel,” said Sarah. “I am excited to continue to support Jewish organizations in Memphis through my role at the Foundation and am happy to call Memphis my home for the last seven years.”

Steven Holman, a recent graduate from The University of Georgia and new arrival to the Memphis Jewish community, joined JCP as Communications Associate. His strong communication skills help him plan, write, and edit content for print publications, social media, blogs, and websites for JCP and its many associated brands. He also assists in maintaining backend digital systems and works with print, digital, and design vendors to keep JCP branding consistent and high-quality.

“I’m excited to be a part of this team. Every day I’m amazed at how involved and dedicated the staff is, as well as the charitable community of donors. I’ve learned so much about Jewish Memphis already,” said Steven. “I look forward to providing our readers with fresh, interesting content, and ensuring that our community knows about important events going on in our area.”

Lifelong Memphian Melinda Lejman joined Jewish Community Partners in the newly created role of Director of Outreach and Leadership Engagement. Her duties include leading Federation’s young adult FedLED initiative, and strengthening JCP’s capacity to develop leaders both within the organization and in the broader Jewish community. These complementary responsibilities will ensure a pipeline of Jewish leaders ready and able to nurture and sustain our community for decades to come.

“This is an amazing and exciting opportunity for me. I am currently enrolled in a doctoral program at Northeastern University with a concentration in Organizational Leadership Studies,” said Melinda. “This job provides a great means for me to apply what I am learning in school to further create a positive impact in the community that is so special to me. This will not be an abstract experience; it will actually be really hands on. I served as Project Manager for Federation’s 2018 Israel at 70 initiative, so I am not really new to JCP, but I’m thrilled to be here in a new, impactful role.”

Lorraine Wolf joined Jewish Community Partners as Manager of Community Impact and will oversee projects that support community planning, programming and engagement, community relations, and Israel and global Jewry initiatives. Prior to joining the JCP team, she was passionately involved in numerous local nonprofit organizations, and today continues to serve as president of the Jewish Historical Society of Memphis and the Mid-South as a volunteer.

“I’m honored and excited to be creating and planning meaningful programs while representing Jewish Community Partners within our community,” said Lorraine. “The Memphis Jewish community is very special to me, and I look forward to continue making a positive impact within this position.”

“These moves have been in development for a while, but it takes time to tap the right talent,” said Laura Linder, JCP’s President and CEO. “Bluma and Sheri have historically brought deep expertise and passion to their work, and it was time for their roles to catch up with their ability. Similarly, Sarah brought ideas and hard work to the JCP team when she joined several years ago, and it was clear she was ready for increased responsibilities. And Steven, Melinda, and Lorraine are stepping into vitally important positions with tremendous drive and aptitude, and are each the perfect fit for their work. The entire community will benefit from this period of growth at JCP.”  

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“Federation supports the institutions that have supported my family for generations and it means something to me to be a part of that,” said Sam Canales, a recent graduate of The University of Georgia and, at 22, among the younger donors to Memphis Jewish Federation’s Annual Community Campaign. “It’s an honor to be able to contribute to the Memphis Jewish community as I am experiencing it myself.”

A fourth-generation Memphian himself, Sam’s family has left a sizable footprint over the decades spent living in their Jewish community. This tradition of impact is something that Sam takes seriously and aims to maintain.

“I think that the biggest thing for me is that Memphis is a place that is and always will be home for me. When I’m away from home, I’m proud to say that I’m from Memphis because of the good memories and relationships I associate with the city,” said Sam.

Sam donates money to Memphis Jewish Federation’s Annual Community Campaign to show his continued support of the institutions that nurtured him throughout his youth, and which shape his Jewish community. He points to the influence of his family and especially his parents, Stacy and Art Canales, who set an example by giving back and contributing to causes that fueled their passion.

“My mom, Stacy Canales, is Executive Director of Temple Israel, and is the definition of a role model. She’s a good person who is always rolling up her sleeves and doing what needs to be done for the community,” said Sam. “I’m lucky to be from Memphis, growing up around so many amazing Jewish role models. My mom, my dad, my brother Aaron, my grandmother Marilyn, my grandfather Herb Notowich, of blessed memory. These people mean so much to me and I have learned so much from them.”

With family traditions at the core of Sam’s Jewish identity, other experiences helped crystallize his point of view and shape his sense of purpose through a Jewish lens. Experiences like BBYO and two years as a camper followed by two years as a counselor at URJ Jacobs Camp in Mississippi had a profound impact during important coming-of-age years.

“The second I got into my first middle school youth group, I ran for President, and I have not stopped running since,” said Sam. “In Israel H. Peres AZA #71, one of the BBYO chapters in Memphis, I was an extremely active member, perpetual board member, and Harvest Hop Chairman. I was also Vice President of our Regional Board. My mom, my brother, all my cousins, my uncles, and my grandfather were all in BBYO, and it was important for me to continue this legacy and be a leader in a Jewish space.”

“Jacobs Camp came at a perfect time in my life. I grew up attending Beth Sholom, having Shabbat dinners at my grandparents’ house, and going to Jewish day school, so Jewish identity was not something that I needed to find, but something that I needed to bolster,” noted Sam. “Camp proved to me that being Jewish in the future was not only feasible, but it was exciting, it was sociable, it was communal, and it was something that I could look forward to.”

It was at Jacobs Camp that Sam had formative experiences giving himself to others, through working with special needs campers through Camp Dream Street. He remembers being stirred by the work, giving campers a safe place to be themselves and an opportunity to be treated with respect.

During his time in college, Sam made time for Jewish causes, including serving as the Vice-President of his Jewish fraternity, AEPi, and later assisting as the Alumni Chairman for the chapter.

“I gained so much from that experience, and the shared experience of Judaism was another great opportunity,” Sam described.

Sam has recently been hired at the Creative Financial Group in Atlanta, working as a financial planning analyst, after interning with the company part-time during his senior year of college. Despite currently being hundreds of miles away from Memphis, he stays connected to his roots. Through his continued philanthropy, activism, and familial support structure, Memphis is never far away from his mind and heart.

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The Memphis Jewish Community Center in partnership with Memphis Jewish Federation held its inaugural “Pickleball Palooza” weekend to benefit the Wendy & Avron B. Fogelman Jewish Family Service, an event with the goal of bringing community members together for an action-packed weekend full of fun, excitement, and pickleball! Over the course of these three days, over 200 participants competed in and/or attended the different events.

Congratulations to the tournament champions: Margo Gruen and Karen Karmel in Women’s Doubles, Cody and Steve Gubin in Men’s Doubles, Lisa Silver and Peter Lindy in Mixed Doubles, and Jody Franklin in Singles. In addition to the over thirty sponsors and many in-kind donations of raffle prizes from local businesses (recognized below), special thanks are due to Robin and Billy Orgel who facilitated and coordinated bringing in the pickleball professional and to Stacy and Jerry Siegler who were a primary sponsor of the weekend.

As an integral part of the Jewish community, the Wendy & Avron B. Fogelman Jewish Family Service at the Memphis Jewish Community Center provides an array of compassionate social services and a connection to any additional services needed. FJFS forms collaborative relationships with clients, to enhance well-being and help them thrive. They approach this mission with the highest level of responsibility, professionalism, and integrity. Learn more here.

Thank You to Pickleball Palooza 2021 Sponsors and Donors:

Stacy and Jerry Siegler, Robin and Billy Orgel

Jolie and Michael Kisber, Sharon and Michael Goldstein

Risa, Steve Baer and family, Jill and David Buring, Suzanne and Scott Baum, Hallie and Marc Charney, Janis and Pat Finan, Karen and Jody Franklin, Lisa and Jonathan Frisch, Dorothy Goldwin, Margo and Todd Gruen, Jan and Mark Hanover, Daniela Kaplan, Karen, Doug Karmel and family, Aileen and Michael Leavitt, Betsy and Steve Libby, Jeri and Mitch Moscovitz, Jill and Scott Notowich, Erin Ostrow, Rose and Erwin Ostrow, Jan and Marc Reisman, Janice and Jimmy Ringel, Debbie Rosenthal/Cruise One, Debra and Alex Saharovich, Laurie and Elkan Scheidt, Scott Segal, Louise and Jerry Sklar, Kimberlee and Scott Strome, Patti and Bill Weiss, Marcia Ann and Mike Weiss


Paddletek, The Dink, Gamma Sports, String ‘n Swing, Dazzle, Dinstuhls, Josephs, Lululemon, Staks, Siskind Susser Immigration Lawyers

Torchy’s Tacos, Rob Henson’s Salon, One and Only BBQ, Kaufman’s Shoes, Ugly Mug, Margo Rebecca, Athleta, Southall Cafe, MJCC

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“Because students have returned to campus in person this year after a year and a half of being online, it’s especially important to be proactive about educating our campus communities about what Antisemitism looks like on college campuses today,” said Sophie Bloch, the Director of Hillels of Memphis, a program of Memphis Jewish Federation. “College students have unique needs and experiences that require a nuanced look, and we all have a role to play in proactively combatting Antisemitism on campus by engaging in dialogue, honoring our differences, and creating space for students to feel comfortable exploring their Jewish identity without fear.”

On September 30, Hillels of Memphis participated in co-sponsoring the event Moon and Stars: Supporting and Celebrating Muslim and Jewish Students. Primarily organized by Chaplain Beatrix from Rhodes College, this event was held both in person and virtually and featured guest speakers Josh Losner, from Hillel International’s “campus climate” department, and Ishaq Pathan, the Director of Islamic Networks Group in the Bay Area.

“Multiple students of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian backgrounds came to show support, demonstrating that a sense of community truly does exist here on Rhodes campus,” said Samuel Cross, a sophomore who is also a Rhodes Hillel Co-Vice President and Jewish Community Fellow.

During this event, the two speakers were invited to discuss proactive strategies that students, faculty, and administrators in campus communities can use to talk about these issues and educate one another, empowering them to combat Antisemitic and Islamophobic beliefs on campus together. Josh and Ishaq highlighted the importance of interfaith dialogue and the crucial need for Jews and Muslims to engage together. The speakers shared that through simple conversation both sides can better relate to each other, identify mutual similarities, and work to overcome adversities together.

“The event was also attended by multiple members of the V.O.I.C.E.S committee, who serve as the voice for minority groups on campus. As a member of this committee myself, I know that my counterparts left the meeting with both an increased respect for the Jewish and Islamic communities as well as a better understanding of how to best represent them and safeguard their traditions on campus,” said Samuel. “I expect that in future years we will see increased interactions between V.O.I.C.E.S, Hillel, and the Muslim Student Association, fostering stronger relationships between the communities.”

Another theme addressed was that the experiences of Jews and Muslims are unique to each individual, so it is crucial to share stories and get to know one another as individuals. By interacting and learning each person’s unique perspective, both groups gain the opportunity to reflect and relate with one another. Through listening to each other’s experiences and viewpoints, we can start to build relationships and a culture of mutual understanding.

“I believe this type of seminar should become a tradition on campus. It’s rare that these issues get the attention they warrant, and it does a good job opening much-needed discussion about campus diversity and how to protect it,” Samuel said. “By opening this door, it also gives us the opportunity to discuss issues beyond the Judeo-Islamic communities on campus, including race, sexuality, and variance in ability as well. On a college campus, especially for one as small as Rhodes, it is important to foster an inclusive community and I believe this event was a significant step in that direction.”

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