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Memphis Jewish Federation Welcomes Newcomers to Community

by Steven Holman-
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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 mroochvarg@jcpmemphis.org or 901-767-7100. 

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