I have to admit, I never considered living in Memphis.
After almost 18 years in Teaneck, we were enjoying all the benefits of living in a town with a large Jewish community. Everywhere you turned there were more choices: kosher grocery stores, restaurants, shuls, schools, neighborhoods and social environments. Our children were comfortable with their schools, friends, neighbors, camps etc.
Had I been asked if I’d consider moving “out-of-town,” I probably would have given the standard “big town” answer. I’d love to! The never-ending discussions regarding house prices, taxes and tuition that always ended the same way were mind-numbing. They always ended with the same statement, “we should all just move out of town”; however, would my family have ever really considered it? I doubted it.
Fast forward to the very end of June, when the partner in charge of my group asked me to consider relocating to Memphis to lead a large client engagement. He reassured me that they had Googled Memphis and there seemed to be a Jewish community! He needed an answer ASAP.
We’d been asked to relocate before and had assessed the realities involved but it was never practical. Memphis, though? The thing was, I had just been there and had liked it. I went home and told my wife. She had also heard about the community in Memphis and we agreed to look into it.
Then the real work began. We spoke to numerous people from Memphis within a short amount of time. The common thread that weaved its way through all of our conversations was what a warm and friendly community the Memphis community was. People are just nice, the quality of life is great and the school is highly regarded.
The upsides to moving continued to grow. A tighter, diverse community and a smaller, more focused school environment. The cost of housing was a definite plus! The difference in housing prices is almost unbelievable. In addition, an eight-minute drive to work compared to commuting into midtown—I would get over two extra hours in my day!
At this point, we decided to visit Memphis. We got a first-hand view of the genuine warmth and hospitality the community is renowned for. We toured the newly renovated school, met the principals and teachers, our kids hung out at the fabulous JCC, we enjoyed delicacies from the bakery, lunch at the restaurant and saw all four shuls. Members of the community arranged a luncheon for our daughter to meet the other girls, a pool party for our son and just went out of their way to make us feel welcome.
In early July we made the decision to move and became one of the 15 Jewish families who have relocated to Memphis this summer, moving from cities including Rochester, Boston, Nashville, New York, New Jersey and Seattle.
We have now been here for three weeks and once our children adjusted to the fact that school started on August 19, earlier than NJ, our children are loving life here as are we!
I wanted to write this article with an eye towards highlighting the Memphis Jewish community. Although only here a short time, I have already seen the number of available opportunities for suitably qualified accounting and finance professionals at a number of companies covering a broad range of industries here in Memphis.
The Memphis Jewish community will be showcasing itself at the third “Taste of Jewish Memphis” Shabbaton over the weekend of October 17. Visitors will enjoy a fantastic weekend featuring the finest Southern home hospitality. They will have multiple opportunities to interact with engaging families and speak with employment and real estate experts. On Friday, visitors can tour the newly renovated Margolin Hebrew Academy/Feinstone Yeshiva of the South (MHA/FYOS; age 3 through 12th grade), the fabulous JCC, and visit the city’s historic sights. On Saturday night, Faye and Jonathan Kellerman will host a book signing at the JCC promoting their new book, “The Murderer’s Daughter.” On Sunday morning, the 27th annual Memphis Kosher Barbecue Contest will take place. This community-wide event features fun for the whole family, including a 3-on-3 basketball tournament for all ages, children’s activities, great food, and fifty themed booths being judged on their brisket, ribs and beans.
Memphis is well known as a tourist attraction—600,000 people come yearly to visit Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley. Sun Studio, the Gibson Guitar Factory, Beale Street and the National Civil Rights Museum are popular destinations as well. It is not as well known, however, that Memphis boasts an extremely vibrant Jewish community, including four Orthodox synagogues with dynamic rabbis, an Orthodox day school (MHA/FYOS), a bustling JCC and wide availability of kosher food.
To encourage Jewish families to explore life in Memphis, the Jewish community is offering a generous incentive package. It includes a $250 subsidy towards a family’s flights to visit for a weekend. New Memphians will also receive a free year of membership at any of the four Orthodox synagogues and three months of free membership at the JCC. Students enrolling at the MHA/FYOS will also receive 50 percent off tuition for the 2016-17 academic year and 25 percent off for the 2017-18 academic year. Lastly, Jewish families who move to Memphis will receive $500 towards relocation expenses.
Memphis is the ideal destination for a family looking for a fantastic quality of life with all of the Jewish amenities. We hope that you will visit the community on the weekend of October 17 and discover this gem for yourself!
Yoel Goldblatt is an audit partner with Deloitte & Touche LLP and can be reached directly at [email protected]
By Yoel Goldblatt