More than 150 young Jewish adults gathered the Wednesday before Thanksgiving for Memphis Jewish Federation’s first annual Reunion, a pre-holiday bash for locals, ex-pats, and out of town guests. The Old Dominick Distillery in downtown Memphis was the perfect setting for this rowdy bunch, who were so excited to reunite that their catch-up conversations crowded out the pumping bass of the music.
“This is exactly why we moved back to Memphis,” said Evan Sander, who served as a member of the event’s Host Committee with his wife Rachel.
“It was a blast being able to reunite with Memphis Jews of all age groups,” said Sarah Alpert, also a member of the Host Committee. “It can be hard to find time to see everyone you want to during a short holiday break, so it was awesome to all be together in one place.”
Federation’s Director of Development Judy Lansky conceived Reunion 2022 to fill a void; she wanted Jewish Young adults in Memphis to have a dedicated space to get together before the traditionally family-oriented holiday while those who live elsewhere were back in town and locals were enjoying their time off. While organic gatherings often pop-up at old haunts like the Young Avenue Deli or Earnestine & Hazels, Judy visualized one central hub with an open invitation to all in the 21-45 age span, a homecoming party where old friendships could be rekindled and new connections made, all woven together with colorfully diverse, but distinctively Jewish, thread. The event was also designed as a fundraiser, bringing a new generation of donors into Federation’s Annual Community Campaign. A portion of each ticket sale went directly to the 2023 Campaign, marking many attendees’ first experience in Jewish philanthropy.
“Jewish Memphians in my age group are scattered all over the country, but regardless of where we all live, Memphis will always be our community,” said Judy. “I just moved back here, and there is something so special about reconnecting with old friends and already have so many shared experiences. Also, like me, many locals who start their adult lives outside of Memphis make their way back before long, and Federation is uniquely positioned to bring these people together and bond the next generation of movers and shakers in this wonderful community.”
Attendee Steve Wolf, who moved to Memphis from Chicago and works as a consultant in the agricultural sector, attended the Bluff City Bash soon after becoming a Memphian. Over the din of Reunion, he mentioned the pandemic-induced lack of social opportunities for young adults to gather, and gratitude to Federation for hosting this year’s event.
“Most of the people I met at the Bash, I unfortunately never saw again,” said Steve. “I’m glad that we’re kind of rekindling that type of thing with this event tonight. I look forward to meeting new people and seeing people that I’ve seen around as well. This is awesome.”
“Community members in my generation have many opportunities to get together, but Jewish young adults, our kids, need opportunities to define themselves as a generation of leaders,” said Laura Linder, President & CEO of Jewish Community Partners, which manages Memphis Jewish Federation. “The bonds that tie us together are formed at social events like Reunion, and as the hub of the Memphis Jewish community, Federation has the distinctive ability to pull people from every corner of the community together.”
About the Photos:
Event Chairs Andrea Cohen, Stephanie Saslawsky, Joel Saslawsky, Kayla Klazmer, Marissa Magdovitz, Andrew Magdovitz (not pictured Ted Cohen) served as Event Chairs for Memphis Jewish Federation’s Reunion, a premiere event for Jewish young adults. Conceived as a hub for young adults to gather with their old Memphis crew over the holiday, Reunion was also designed as a fundraiser, bringing a new generation of donors into Federation’s Annual Community Campaign.
Attendees of Memphis Jewish Federation’s Reunion premiere event for young adults partied together into the wee hours the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, at the Old Dominick Distillery in downtown Memphis. More than 150 21–45-year-olds gathered with old friends while making new ones at the Jewish Memphis homecoming party. A portion of each ticket sale went directly to Federation’s 2023 Annual Community Campaign.
Photos by Paige Miller