Fellowship for Jewish Students Helps Rhodes College Junior Explore Jewish Identity Through Hillel

by JCPConnect-

Hello Memphis Jewish Community! My name is Yanai Almalem. I am a Jewish student lucky enough to be starting my Junior year at Rhodes  College this year.

In 2016, I was the first student to receive the Jewish Community Fellowship at Rhodes College thanks to Jewish Community Partners (JCP), which makes me the Senior Fellow!

Yanai attended an event to welcome incoming Rhodes College President Dr. Marjorie Hass (right), with Hillels of Memphis Director Rabbi Jeremy Simons and Hillel at Rhodes College Student President Merit Pinker.

Over the course of the past two years, my mind and my identity have been changed and reshaped by the college experience and coursework, as has my Jewish identity. The warm and welcoming Rhodes Hillel has been a huge part of that.

During the semester, my busy college schedule does not allow for too much other than work, but the Hillel is one of the truly peaceful parts of my week. The delicious Shabbat dinners, informational Birthright meetings, and special holiday events are a fun reminder and outlet for expressing my identity as not only Jewish but also as a first-generation Israeli immigrant to the United States.

Thanks to the financial aid offered by the Fellowship, I could attend my number one choice for school, and keep my unique identity in the process. My primary reason for going to Rhodes College was so that I could receive a quality education right here in my hometown, near the synagogues and schools I grew up in and I made the right choice. Keeping my Jewish identity was an important factor in determining what college I went to, for me and for my parents, and Rhodes College was very accommodating.

Although they do not have the largest Jewish population, there is a very close-knit and family-like Jewish population. We all know each other, which is a pretty good representation of the Rhodes College experience in general. JCP and Hillels of Memphis have made my transition into a meaningful and whole college experience not only less stressful, but a pleasure.

I very much look forward to another two years of amazing experiences with my fellow Jewish fellows and students at Rhodes College Hillel.

Read about the recent endowment which will fund Hillels of Memphis for perpetuity. 

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