Jewish Community Partners staff

By Emma Figarsky

Memphis Jewish Federation and the Jewish Foundation of Memphis have both received a Four-Star Rating from Charity Navigator, which is the highest possible rating. Charity Navigator is the nation’s largest and most-utilized evaluator of charities. Federation and Foundation are currently two of twelve Four-Star charities in the Mid-South and remain among the highest rated nonprofits in the industry, with a score of 96.57 out of 100.

“Between our two organizations, we work with hundreds of donors and hundreds of charitable organizations. This ranking speaks volumes about the professionalism and dedication of our staff and leadership in making sure every dollar is making maximum impact,” said Irvin Skopp, Treasurer/Secretary of the Executive Committee of Jewish Community Partners, which operates both Federation and Foundation.

Charity Navigator rates charities by evaluating two broad areas of performance: financial health, and accountability and transparency. These ratings show donors how efficiently a charity uses their support today, how well it has sustained its programs and services over time, and their level of commitment to being accountable and transparent.

“For decades, the Federation and Foundation have provided ways for charitably minded members of the Memphis Jewish community to support the most critical needs of Jewish families as well as achieve their personal philanthropic goals,” said Laura Linder, President and CEO of Jewish Community Partners. “Being recognized as a top-tier charitable organization is such an honor.  With all of the charitable choices donors have, this ranking helps to remind our supporters as well as the broader Memphis Jewish community that we are a trusted philanthropic partner.”  

This ranking signifies that both Memphis Jewish Federation and the Jewish Foundation of Memphis exceed industry standards and outperform most charities in their area of work. They have been recognized for adhering to best practices while executing their mission in a financially efficient way. To learn how to make a gift to Federation’s Annual Community Campaign or open a fund at the Jewish Foundation, visit

Pictured above: Anthony Morrison, Jewish Foundation of Memphis Chair; Laura Linder, Jewish Community Partners President & CEO; Cindy Finestone, Memphis Jewish Federation Chair; and Ken Steinberg, Jewish Community Partners Chair, at the 2019 Jewish Community Partners Annual Meeting, one of the last in-person events before the pandemic. The hard and careful work of staff and lay leaders, as well as the generous involvement of hundreds of donor families in Jewish Memphis, contributed to a Four-Star Rating from Charity Navigator for Federation and Foundation.

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In a strangely disconnected year, Dot Bilsky has relied on her long affiliation with the Memphis Jewish Federation Lions of Judah as a way to stay connected to the people and places she loves in Jewish Memphis.

“I became a Lion because my husband signed me up, and I am very grateful he did. With the support of Federation, Lion of Judah identifies needs and gives people like me a chance to do the most good with greater impact,” she said. “And now with the pandemic, the Lions are even more active because there’s more need. We respond to what’s out there. That’s what it means to be part of this sisterhood.”

A long-time Lion, Dot serves on the LOJ Tikkun Olam Committee, serves on Federation’s Senior Services Collaborative, is involved in her synagogue, and has even become something of a volunteer IT support professional for an expanding circle of friends and acquaintances during the quarantine. She has a habit of stepping in to help others meet needs and is grateful for the many opportunities provided to make a difference.

She offers the Lion’s recent Baby Shower initiative as an example of how she benefits from her connections. Led by the Tikkun Olam Committee, the Shower was launched to help Wendy & Avron B. Fogelman Jewish Family Service at the Memphis Jewish Community Center stock its brand-new Baby Pantry, designed to ensure families in the community have access to the essentials needed to care for babies and young children.

“The Baby Shower proves my point about what Federation does for me as a Lion. I didn’t know there were babies in our community needing help, nor could I have done anything about it without the support of Federation and the Lions,” she said. “We got the word out and took in an enormous amount of supplies for the Baby Pantry. That’s the Lions. They want to do things that help. And when you ask them, they go above and beyond.”

Dot had another first-hand glimpse of the connecting power of Federation as a peripheral player in this summer’s Tech Buddy initiative, designed to help seniors in the community stay connected through technology. 

“Part of my job at Memphis City Schools and later with Apple Computers was to help people use computers in the classroom,” she said. “I got involved helping people with their new Federation-provided iPads through the back door. I’m in a book club and two of the people couldn’t participate.  I made pictures of ipad screens and added arrows to show where to click and how to get to the home screen, the mail envelope, and how to read an email or join a Zoom meeting. Word got out and people asked me to help with different things. The initial training they got from the Tech Buddy was excellent, but I was able to help them do new things they wanted to learn.”

“Just yesterday I helped a friend of mine get online because she wanted to join a Beth Sholom seniors discussion group on Zoom,” she said. “We were going down the projects that Beth Sholom had planned and while she was scanning through the list, she said: ‘Oh my gosh, Baron Hirsch is making sandwiches- we always did that.’”

“I said ‘Yeah, but this year people are doing it from home.’ She said ‘I want to do it!’  So she helped Baron Hirsch make sandwiches.”

Ultimately, Dot’s connection to the community through the Lions is precious to her, and something she doesn’t take for granted. It’s through this sisterhood that she is able to satisfy her urge to help people in the community in a meaningful way.

“I’ve helped with things that I didn’t even know were problems before Federation directed us there,” she said.  “As Lions, we not only want to give money, we want to be involved.  That’s how a lot of the women feel.  The Federation identifies needs and organizes us to make a bigger impact.  I am most grateful for what Federation and the Lions do for me and others like myself.”

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Momentum is swelling behind a group of young adults – some new to Memphis, others born and raised here – committed to Memphis Jewish Federation’s efforts to care for, connect, and engage Jewish people of all ages through a wide array of programs and services.

Formerly known as YAD (the Young Adult Division of Memphis Jewish Federation) FedLED emerged this year after a strategic rebranding process. Driven by young professional volunteer leaders from the Memphis Jewish community, FedLED’s work focuses on leadership, education, and fundraising. FedLED Co-Chairs Jaclyn Marshall and Martin Klazmer recruited a council whose members Emily Lennon, Jana Weiskopf, Daniel Snyder, and advisors Jason Goldstein and Aviva Freiden, are collaborating to craft opportunities to elevate young adult leadership to the next level.

After a series of popular and well attended FedLED virtual networking breakfasts for young professionals, the first open-to-the public program will be the FedLED Children’s Clothing Sale, to be held January 31 under the MJCC Pavilion. Donations of gently used children’s clothing and shoes are already being accepted at the Jewish Community Partners offices, inside the MJCC.

“As someone who is a direct product of what this community has provided, I’ve naturally always had the desire to nourish and nurture the community myself,” said native Memphian Martin. “Now as an adult who has returned to Memphis with my own family, the timing is right and the opportunity is here with FedLED. Younger people in this community need to know that older generations are looking to us to step up and be involved in whatever capacity we are able and FedLED will serve as a stepping stone for those who are. I couldn’t be more excited to be part of this organization.”

Unlike Martin, Jaclyn is a newer Memphian, and had not been involved in Jewish communal activities in California. “There was not much sense of community living in San Francisco,” she said. “In Memphis, I met moms with small kids through my own children, and now we see each other all the time.”

From these first feelings of belonging to a cohesive Jewish community, Jaclyn eventually made her way to Federation. Her first in-depth conversation with a Federation staff member opened her eyes to the organization’s tireless efforts in Jewish Memphis. “It was mind blowing,” she said. “I not only wanted to give money but wanted to give more of my time.”

She was asked to serve as a co-moderator for a Federation Women’s Philanthropy program, interviewing Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, founder of OPI Nail Lacquer, in the MJCC’s Belz Social Hall. The well-attended event sparked a new interest in Federation activities throughout the community for Jaclyn, leading her to FedLED.

“Our goal is to hold a series of fundraising events – big and small – that get people excited,” said Jaclyn. “By creating exciting events, like wine and whisky tastings, we’ll offer fun ways for people to give back while learning about Federation. It’s important to introduce our generation to the Federation model of community support through donations, and help cultivate a culture of long-term donors for decades to come.”

Having had successful experiences with clothing sales back in California, Jaclyn thought a similar initiative would be a good fit for a key FedLED demographic- Jewish parents. In addition to offering something they need, the event would also be an excellent platform to introduce FedLED to potential members.

FedLED’s Children’s Clothing Sale will be held Sunday, January 31, 1:00 to 4:00 P.M., under the MJCC Pavilion. Federation is accepting donations of gently used children’s clothing and shoes Monday through Friday from 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. at the Jewish Community Partners office, located at 6560 Poplar Ave, inside the MJCC. Donated items will be sorted and sold at the socially distanced clothing sale at the end of the month. Proceeds from the clothing sale will go towards Federation’s Home-Delivered Meals Program for isolated seniors. Masks and social distancing will be strictly enforced.

FedLED is also looking for volunteers to help sort clothing ahead of the sale and to staff the sale itself. Tasks include sorting donated goods into different categories, setting up stations at the sale, and helping with touch-free payment transactions. To volunteer, email or call Sophie Bloch, Director of Young Adult Leadership, or 901-452-2453.

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Jewish Community Partners announces the hiring of Miriam Roochvarg, who joins JCP as Engagement Associate. Miriam will oversee various Memphis Jewish Federation initiatives, including PJ Library, Newcomers, Shalom Baby, and the Israeli Scouts. A lifetime of rich Jewish experiences and engagement has equipped her with the ideal skillset and outlook to ensure these programs continue to thrive and serve the community.

By Miriam Roochvarg

As a former clergy kid- my dad was a cantor for over 20 years before retiring-, Camp Judea alumna, Ramah Darom alumna, and graduate of the American Hebrew Academy, a Jewish boarding high school in N.C., you could say I come from a rich Jewish environment.

As I was finishing my Communications degree at North Carolina State University, I realized I wanted to make a difference, but didn’t know where or how. Outside of home, school is where kids spend the most time, giving educators the opportunity to impact lives in a profound way. I decided I’d give teaching a try.

When I was accepted into Teach For America I was asked to rank locations I would be interested to teach in. A main priority was a city with a good Jewish community, and from what I saw online, Memphis seemed all that and more. I’m happy to say, the decision hasn’t disappointed me one bit.

Through Jewish geography and a little chutzpah, before my move, I connected with Rabbi Sarit Horwitz, and a former co-worker of my mom’s who lived here in Memphis. Thanks to them I was able to connect with welcoming community members who helped me get situated here, and make this place my home.

Because of the support that was offered to me, I wanted to make sure I could offer the same to others. Whether it was grabbing coffee with new young professionals, recommending dentists or doctors offices, or offering my babysitting services to new families in the area, I wanted to help people feel welcome, at home, and connected. I know that makes all the difference when it comes to turning a new place into a home.

While I loved the students I taught, I decided at the end of my two-year commitment this past May that it was time to transition out of teaching. When I heard Jewish Community Partners was looking for an Engagement Associate, I knew I had to apply. Apparently other community members thought of me as well, because more than a few forwarded me the job posting.

Now, as a member of the Jewish Community Partners team, I have not just the opportunity but a professional responsibility to welcome more newcomers to Memphis, engage with kids and families through the dynamic PJ Library program, and use what I’ve learned as a teacher and student of life to help educate and connect our community members with themselves, each other, and the greater Memphis Mishpacha (family).

I look forward to connecting with more members of this wonderful community and offer my support any way I can, just like I was supported when I was a new member of the community. “My “virtual” door is always open. If you’d like to be involved with any of my programs and/or have any suggestions to strengthen them, please reach out to me at Wishing all of you a happy, sweet, support-filled new year! Shana Tova Umetuka!

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Jewish Community Partners President and CEO Laura Linder, or a special guest writer, sits down most Friday mornings to write a personal and timely letter to our beloved Memphis Jewish community.

June 11- Longing for an Ordinary Day (by Bluma Zuckerbrot-Finkelstein)

May 14- We Stand with Israel, Now and Forever

March 25- (Above) Knowing the Way

March 12- Be Inspiring

February 19- Perserverence- A Perfect Landing

February 12- (Above) My Long-Lost Shovel

January 29- When Facing a Problem, Show Up with Solutions

January 22- Don’t End Up in the Shredder

January 15- To Those Who Inspire, Thank You

January 1- (Above) How Much is Enough?

December 25- Amazing Gifts

December 11- Modern Hanukkah Miracles

December 4- This Hanukkah, Share Your Light

November 27- (Above) Eavesdropping in My Daughter- By Bluma Zuckerbrot-Finkelstein

November 13- As Our Parents Planted for Us…

October 23- JFNA’s GA: Global Connections

October 16- Cindy Finestone: New Connections on the Pickleball Court

October 9- Guest Shabbat Message: Foundation Board Chair Anthony Morrison

September 25- (Above) Guest Shabbat Message: Federation Board Chair Cindy Finestone

September 18- Guest Shabbat Message: JCP Board Chair Ken Steinberg

September 11- Rosh Hashanah: A Time of Transition

August 28- A Hurricane By Any Other Name

August 21- The Question that Changed My Life

August 7- It’s Who You Know

July 24- (Above) A Beautiful Gift

July 10- 20 Years Ago We Returned to Memphis to Raise Our Children

July 2- The Summer I Turned 17, I Visited Israel for the First Time

June 26- My Grandmother’s Recipe: Following their Footsteps, Our Way

June 12- (Above) The First Shabbat of Summer Camp

June 5- Solidarity in the Face of Oppression

May 28- Laura’s Special Shavuot Message

May 22- (Above) Strong Leaders Shape Strong Communities

May 15- Maybe We’re On To Something…

May 8- Our Community Cocoon

May 1- (Above) The Old Shall Dream Dreams

April 24- It Takes Darkness to See the Stars

April 17- (Passover) Heroes Among Us

April 8- (Passover) I Love This Card

April 3- Yesterday, I participated in a Zoom call, led by our Federation, with our partnership city in Israel, Shoham

March 27- Over the past two weeks I’ve seen the best of our community

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Every Tuesday, we’ll share a story that spotlights the work of the Wendy and Avron B. Fogelman Jewish Family Service at the Memphis Jewish Community Center with News From the Heart. Browse these stories here.

July 29- Shalom Shuttle: Always at Your Service

April 28- (Above) Debra and Alex Saharovoch Commit to Community

February 5- Cindy and Mark Finestone Continue Generation Philanthropic Traditions

December 17- Hallie, z”l, and Jay Cohen’s Gift to Support the Wendy & Avron B. Fogelman Jewish Family Service

November 19- (Above) Baby Pantry Launches with Help from Federation’s Lions

November 5- Judy & Larry Moss: Supporting FJFS Means Giving Back to Community

October 15- Susan Nieman: How Fogelman Jewish Family Service Shaped My Life

October 1- Shabbat Sholom Program Offers Seniors A High Holiday Treat

September 11- (Above) Donors Like Lisa Menuskin and Neil Gibson Help FJFS Meet Needs in Jewish Memphis

August 26- FJFS Collaborates with Community to Help Parents Navigate Return to School

August 20- Clients Benefit from Strong Relationships with Staff

August 13- Donors Keep Kosher Food Pantry Stocked During Pandemic

July 28- We’re Here for You: A Message from Director of Social Services Mary Elizabeth Jones

July 22- Volunteer Callers Connect isolated Seniors to Community

July 14- (Above) A Healthy Bounty for Hungry Seniors

July 7- A Friendly Voice and Open Years

July 1- Education is Key

June 25- Working Together to Serve the Most Vulnerable

June 16- (Above) Special Needs Support Amid Pandemic

June 9- In Times of Financial Emergency, FJFS is Here for You

June 2- Shalom Shuttle Returns to Normal Schedule

May 27- (Above) Volunteers Adapt During Pandemic

May 19- Mindful of Mental Wellness

May 12- FJFS Staff Continues to Connect with Memphis Jewish Seniors Despite COVID-19 Barriers

May 5- (Above) School Counselor Offers Comforting Advice for Students and Parents During Covid-19 Crisis

April 28- Wendy and Avron B. Fogelman Jewish Family Service Continues to Keep our Community Safe and Connected

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Photo and interview by Gila Golder

Part of Memphis Jewish Federation’s ongoing efforts to connect Memphis and Israel, the 70 Faces of Memphis and Shoham project was designed to form real connections between the people of Jewish Memphis and the people of Shoham, Israel, Memphis’s partner city through the Jewish Agency for Israel’s Partnership 2Gether program. The project serves as a way to connect Jewish Memphians to each other by showcasing their unique character and contributions to the community.

Gabby Bray knew about BBYO, an international youth organization with four chapters in Memphis. Her mother had been active in BBYO as a teen, and many of her friends had already joined. But she was hesitant to get involved. “My mom was like, ‘Go to the first program. Just give it a shot.’”

Mom was right. “I absolutely fell in love with it.”

That was over three years ago. Today, Gabby is a high school senior— “which is scary!”— and has been an active leader in her BBYO chapter, stepping up to plan and organize programs down to the last detail. Since BBYO is a pluralistic organization and welcomes teens from all backgrounds, it can be challenging to ensure everyone feels welcome.

“It’s being conscious of where you’re doing prayers, are you doing the right prayers, are you aware of where east is in the room…and many of the teens who have joined don’t necessarily have a Jewish background, so making sure we’re explaining everything we’re doing so they understand what’s going on.” And at a leadership convention last year, another issue was raised— designing programs that are accessible for teens with physical disabilities.

For Gabby, taking care of these logistical details isn’t a burden. It’s a responsibility she takes on with joy and pride. “The mindset is, when you’re going through those details, it can’t be a chore. If it’s something put upon you, like oh, I have to make sure this is kosher and shomer Shabbat and all of that, it’s not going to go well. So I enjoy it, and I think that’s why I’ve been fairly good at what I do.”

The one aspect she doesn’t enjoy is recruitment. “People already know what BBYO is to a certain extent, so it’s just trying to find parts of the Memphis Jewish community we haven’t reached before and picking out why they haven’t joined yet, what they don’t know, and how to get them there. But there are people who are much more likable than I am who do that!”

Outside of BBYO, Gabby enjoys reading, competing in Science Olympiad at school, and volunteering at a veterinarian’s office. “I’m currently training a service dog. He’s a maniac!”

This spring, Gabby will participate in BBYO’s March of the Living, a two-week program that unites Jewish teens to bear witness to the atrocities of the Holocaust in Poland, then celebrate Israeli Independence Day in Jerusalem. And next year?

“When I’ve been looking at colleges, one of the things I always check is do they have a Hillel. BBYO doesn’t continue past high school, unfortunately, but I feel like Hillel is a natural place to go for Jewish enrichment.”

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It’s time to polish up on your putt-putt skills for Hillels of Memphis Annual Yiddishe Cup Mini Golf Tournament. Enjoyed by people of all ages, this year’s challenge will be held on Sunday, April 26, at 2 p.m. at Golf & Games located at 5484 Summer Avenue.

Rain or shine, activities within the facility will be available if rain prohibits putt-putt.

The theme, “My Hillel Story,” will celebrate the important role Hillel has played in developing Jewish leaders, role models, and philanthropists in the Memphis Jewish community. Memphians are encouraged to submit their Hillel story to be highlighted in promotional materials leading up to the event and at the tournament.

Hillels of Memphis is operated by Jewish Community Partners, whose President CEO Laura Linder, was the fist to submit her Hillel Story. She writes:

“If it weren’t for my involvement in Hillel as a student at Indiana University, I would not be sitting in the seat I’m in today!  During my sophomore year I was asked by a friend to serve as a co-chair of the UJA Student campaign at IU which was a committee of Hillel.  ‘All you have to do is make a few phone calls and speak at a few events,’ is how she first presented it to me.  But it was the opportunity to participate in a national leadership conference and go on a free trip to Israel that initially inspired me to accept the challenge! Hillel at IU was well organized and attracted a diverse group of students. I ended up spending a lot of time there during college. When my grandmother died suddenly during my junior year, my ‘Hillel family’ was very supportive and comforting. I remember being at services on a Friday night, I wanted to say Kaddish for her and I was really struggling.  Someone put their arm around me and we stood together. From that moment on I realized that Hillel is more than a place, it’s a Jewish community, it was MY Jewish community, and there for me at a time when I really needed it.”

You can share your story in an email to Hillels of Memphis Director Sophie Bloch.

Yiddishe Cup co-chairs Daniel Snyder and Carolyn Schrier, in cooperation with the University of Memphis Advisory Council, chaired by Hal Fogelman, and the Rhodes College Advisory Council, chaired by Wendy Rotter, are excited about instilling a meaningful theme for the event.

“Students from both schools will also play an integral role in planning and organizing the event,” said Hillels of Memphis Director Sophie Bloch.

“College is a time where young adults start to figure out who they are, and who they want to be,” said Carolyn. “Hillel provides positive opportunities for these students to make Judaism part of that journey. Supporting Hillel through an event such as the Yiddishe Cup lets students of both campuses know that they don’t exist in a vacuum. Our broader community is proud to have students in their midst, wants to be looked upon for resources, and hopes that upon graduation, students will elect to stay in Memphis, and grow their overall involvement in the city.”

There are multiple ways to participate in the Yiddishe Cup Mini Golf Tournament. So gather your family and friends to: form a team of four at $36; become a sponsor at multiple levels, beginning at $118; and share your Hillel story. Teams will have the opportunity to win special prizes for a hole-in-one and other categories.

The Yiddishe Cup serves as the primary community fundraiser for Hillels of Memphis. Both Hillels serve as a home away from home for Jewish students. All proceeds from the event benefit students on both campuses through educational programming, social events, Shabbat meals and communal programming and events throughout the year. Eighty-five percent of Hillel’s operating budget is funded through a generous endowment. The remaining 15% comes primarily from funds raised through the Yiddishe Cup fundraiser.

The event is open to people of all ages and makes for a great family outing.

Registration, sponsorships, detailed information about the event, and how to tell your “Hillel Story,” may be found at

You may also contact Hillel Executive Director Sophie Bloch at 901.452.2453 or email

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By Sophie Bloch, Director, Hillels of Memphis

Above: University of Memphis students Niki Schienberg, Gila Karasik, Eli Apel, and Jessica Breining gather for an end of semester Hanukkah lunch at the Morris S. Fogelman Hillel building near the University of Memphis campus.

I often joke that my job as the Director of Hillels of Memphis centers around feeding and caffeinating ravenous college students. On one hand, the work of Hillel does indeed fall back on the incredibly reliable Jewish tradition of coming together as a community around a delicious meal – there are few experiences in life as profoundly gratifying as providing a hot, home cooked meal to a busy student who otherwise survives on whatever the dining hall is serving. On the other hand, the delicate process of building trusted relationships so that Hillel isn’t just another place to eat is where the real magic of the work happens.

Since school started in August at University of Memphis and Rhodes College, Hillel served ninety-six bagels at weekly bagel brunches, thirty-eight Shabbat meals enjoyed with friends from across both campuses, and forty-five cups of coffee shared over relationship-building conversations. Those relationships, though, are the real metrics of success in this line of work.

Relationship-based engagement is engagement with students based on their interests and passions that leads to sustained interaction. When successful, relationship-based engagement enables students to understand the role Judaism plays in their identity, empowers students to integrate Jewish values into their life choices, and teaches students to take action to incorporate Jewish tradition into their lives. Relationship-based engagement also helps results in students engaging with their community of Jewish peers and their connection to Israel. On average, students who participate in Hillel at least one time over the course of their college career exhibit statistically higher outcomes above than Jewish students who have never participated in Hillel. The more frequently a student engages with Hillel, the higher the outcomes they exhibit.

Last semester, over seventy Jewish students across Memphis schools have invested in their relationship with Hillel, and thus Jewish life, by attending a Hillel program or event over the course of the Fall semester. Thirty of those students have committed to Jewish life on campus by taking on a leadership role in Hillel or participating in more than five programs or events over the course of the Fall semester.

Jewish life continues to thrive on college campuses in Memphis, thanks to Memphis Jewish Federation’s Hillels of Memphis program. At Rhodes College, new Hillel Student Board officers were elected as the Fall semester came to a close in December. Pictured here are new officers, from left, Marisa Moore , Sophie Enda, Mira Greenberg, Sarah Ginsberg, and Emma Jane Hopper

In addition to building relationships with students, I have met with countless campus and community partners, further solidifying the role Jewish Life plays on campus as well as the role Hillel plays in the Memphis Jewish Community. I have gotten to know our amazing lay leaders and supporters, hearing your own Hillel stories as we together ponder how to honor the legacy of past Jewish life on Memphis campuses while evolving to meet the ever-changing needs of today’s Jewish college students in today’s Memphis Jewish community. Today’s college students across the country struggle with demanding classes, extreme social pressures amplified by social media, and expectations to take advantage of every opportunity they come across for personal development and resume building while on campus. Many of them struggle with mental health, loneliness, and despair about the world they will be inheriting as they become leaders of tomorrow.

I have the distinct privilege of bearing witness to the journeys of Jewish students at Rhodes College and University of Memphis as they forge their way in the world and recommit to the role Judaism plays in their life. We live in a time when any Jewish life on campus should be seen not as expected, but as miraculous. For students who are surrounded by fast fads, countless trends that come and go, and more causes to fight for than ever before, reconnecting to Jewish values, traditions, and community is a steadfast way for Jewish students at Rhodes and University of Memphis to both remember who they are and also discover who they can be. For some that means stepping into a leadership role to help organize programs and events, or participating in the upcoming Jewish Learning Fellowship class in the Spring. For others, it means bringing their friends by the Morris S. Fogelman Jewish Student Center at University of Memphis to show off the incredible study and lounge space they have come to grow proud of as their own. No matter where the college students of Memphis are on their Jewish Journey, Hillel is here to meet them where they’re at and walk alongside them, coffee cup in hand.

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Pictured above: Participants in Baron Hirsch Congregation’s Torah Fellows program are all smiles while working with Jewish youth to make sandwiches for the hungry this past Purim.  

It all starts with a simple question: How can we improve our community?

If you have a creative idea for a program or service that will enrich the Memphis Jewish community, we’re all ears! Local congregations, youth groups, schools, and agencies— or individuals working with a fiscal sponsor agency– are invited to apply for funding through Memphis Jewish Federation’s Fedovation Impact grants process.

We’ll consider ideas for new programs or new components of existing programs. Your proposal should address one or more of our strategic priorities: Sustaining Jewish Memphis, Jewish Education and Engagement, and Caring for our Fellow Jews. Be sure to explain how and why your idea will make an impact and list specific goals. We especially love seeing applications for programs that are designed to promote collaboration in the community!

Ready to get started? Go to and click on 2020 Fedovation Impact Grants to submit a Letter of Intent by January 21. We’ll let you know by January 27 if you’ve been selected to write a full proposal, which will be due on March 5.

See below for testimonials from past year grant recipients! Got questions? Email

“Having the group here allowed us to increase our educational offerings… Each fellow seemed to have his or her own style, and it allowed for variety and interaction, and added a lot of excitement to our Shabbat learning.” –Baron Hirsch Memphis YU Torah Fellows

“During one particular session, it was inspiring to observe the helpful information some of the care partners were able to share with each other regarding the important issue of loved ones with dementia still driving.” –ADS Yad L’Yad Care Partners Support Group

“Because this program is highly subsidized, the majority of our students have a full scholarship or partial scholarships. The grant has been needed mainly to offset costs and help anyone join this program…Our overall objective is to bring the Memphis Jewish community together through Jewish music and shine Judaism bright to anyone who wants to explore their Jewish identity through music. The school has focused this year on getting the word out to the community and beginning that conversation.”–Temple Israel Institute of Jewish Rock

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