What makes a place a home? More specifically, what makes Nashville a warm Jewish home?
For one recent college graduate, it’s knowing she can plug into a network of friends through the Jewish Federation of Nashville’s Now Gen programming. For a young professional with a family, it’s finding a like-minded community through the Federation’s Community Relations Committee. For another, now-established Nashville couple, joining the Federation-supported Gordon JCC when their children were young helped create relationships that have lasted over the years.
You could say the Jewish Federation and Jewish Foundation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee is the glue binding together many services and organizations that make our community a home. This month, Federation’s annual campaign month, we can join together to help Nashville remain the kind of home we enjoy and open to friends from all over the world.
“Basically, all of my friends are through Now Gen,” says Becca Groner, a 2017 graduate of Brandeis University. “Now Gen has been a great resource for me as a new Nashville person.”
Originally from New York, Groner has lived in Nashville since August. She earned her bachelor’s degree in public health and business and works for Stratasan, a health care data-analytics startup based in Nashville, as a product associate.
She heard about the Federation’s Now Gen program through three different friends in New York, whom she knew from United Synagogue Youth activities. They told her she needed to check out Now Gen. She did, and urges other newcomers to do the same.
“Step One, go onto the Now Gen events page on Facebook,” she says. Go to an event – there are lots of them, she says, adding, “You will meet people.”
Since she arrived in town, she has hosted Jewsic City Shabbat and spends time with East Side Tribe, which plans and holds Jewish activities in East Nashville.
Joshua Segall relocated from Montgomery, Ala., to Nashville a few years ago with his wife and family. He grew up in Montgomery, where his family has been active in Federation activities. Segall himself served on the board of the Jewish Federation of Central Alabama and says he was raised to be involved with Federation.
He has found a niche in Nashville with the Federation’s Community Relations Committee, on which he co-chairs the rapid response committee with Nashville attorney Irwin Venick. “I found a group of people (in the CRC) that I have a lot in common with,” he said. He’s learning from his fellow CRC members and is sharing his experiences in related work in Montgomery.
Segall also said he appreciates the greater opportunity in Nashville’s larger Jewish community for his children to meet and find friends in other Jewish children.
Bruce and Kay Robins have grandchildren now, but when they arrived in Nashville in the mid-1970s they were just starting out – the two of them and their eight-month-old daughter. Bruce grew up in the northeast and attended college in Memphis, where he and Kay met. She had moved to Nashville from Memphis in high school, attending junior and senior years here.
“The Jewish community was very welcoming,” Bruce says. “It seems like there were a lot of people new to Nashville then.”
In addition to joining The Temple, the Robinses joined the JCC. Their children attended the preschool, swam in the pool and attended Camp Davis. For Bruce and Kay, the J was where they got to know other couples and families. Eventually, Bruce served two three-year terms on the JCC’s board of directors.
As their children grew up, they continued their connections with the community in different ways. Bruce and Kay traveled to Argentina last year on a Federation mission.
Bruce says he was a bit surprised to learn about the connection between the Jewish Federation of Nashville and the organizations they visited in Argentina. “I didn’t realize (the Federation’s connections were) global, not just to Israel,” he said.
Now another generation of the Robins family is enjoying the Gordon JCC. Just this past summer, their grandson “went to JCC camp and loved it,” Kay Robins said. It’s the same Camp Davis where Kay, as a teen-ager new to Nashville, taught drama and art to the younger kids. •