By Shoshana Cenker
“Memphis? You’re moving back to Memphis?”
That was the question many of our friends and family asked us when my husband Dovid and I decided we’d leave his hometown of Atlanta and move our family to my hometown – Memphis.
And to be honest, I never thought I’d be living in Memphis again either. Born and raised here, when I left to go to college at Indiana University, I swore up and down, I would not come back.
Well, as the saying goes, ‘Man plans and G-d laughs.’
It turns out that moving to Memphis has been an incredible blessing for our family. While we were happy in Atlanta with Dovid’s family and great friends, a nice house in a good Orthodox Jewish community, we are even happier living in Memphis. I have family here, which gave us a great support system, and we’ve had the unexpected opportunity to connect with friends I hadn’t seen in years and make new friends with people who have moved here. Our strong friendships are a huge part of why we’re so happy here.
While growing up in Memphis was nice, I hadn’t realized how much the city itself had grown over the years as well as the Jewish community. I didn’t feel it as much as a kid, but it is clear that Memphis now has so much to offer – even more than we thought when we decided to move. Immediately the Memphis Jewish community welcomed our family with Southern charm and warmth.
When compared to many Jewish cities across the U.S., including Atlanta, Memphis is affordable and accessible; no traffic and affordable housing and education are certainly worth the move alone. Perhaps the most noticeable change is that our three young children – twin 6-year-old boys Aiden and Kivi, and 4-year-old daughter Lyla – have excellent Jewish day school options and are thriving in those environments, loads of playdates with friends and plenty of activities to participate in around town.
From the beautiful Shelby Farms and Memphis Zoo, both of which we frequent, to the Children’s Museum, Jewish Community Center, Pink Palace Museum, the Pyramid and Memphis Grizzlies NBA team – we always have places to go and things to do. Area fairs, festivals, arts shows, musicals and plays keep our calendar filled with events. Add to that, the incredible programming available through Jewish Memphis from the shuls, JCC and Federation, and we are bursting with wonderful opportunities for growth and Jewish learning.
Rarely a week goes by where we aren’t invited out to someone’s house for a Shabbos meal or we invite guests over. We have a lovely house near Baron Hirsch Congregation, where we daven, on a street where kids are safe and comfortable to play together in friends’ yards. Hearing the kids’ laughter and never-ending opportunities to be together with their Jewish friends is easily one of the best things that’s happened upon our move. Sometimes for Shabbos or holidays services, we also walk to Anshei Sphard Beth El Emeth, which is just a mile away, where my dad beautifully leins Torah – it’s a lovely experience for our kids to be able to connect with Judaism on another level.
Memphis also seems to be ripe with career options. Both Dovid and I have amazing jobs; he’s a licensed massage therapist and a kosher caterer with Seasoned Catering, I’m a writer and editor.
Back in Memphis for four and a half years now, we have no doubt this is where we are supposed to be. Life takes you on interesting journeys. You never know where you’ll end up, or what Hashem really has planned for you… but we are certainly happy that plan included us living here in Jewish Memphis. 901 rocks!