Southern & Jewish
Southern & Jewish celebrates the stories, people, and experiences – past and present – of Jewish life in the American South. Hosted by the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life, posts come from educators, students, rabbis, parents, artists, and many other “visitors-to and daily-livers-of” the Southern Jewish experience. From road trips to recipes to reflections, we’ll explore a little bit of everything – well, at least all things Southern and/or Jewish. Shalom, y’all!
With the Labor Day holiday weekend approaching, some of you might be about to embark on road trips. My entire summer has been all about road trips — after all, summer is a crazy time for the ISJL Education Department. In a matter of six weeks, we are faced with the challenge of visiting all 59 of our partner communities. After hours of poring over the calendar, the schedule was set and it was time for us to hop in our rental cars and hit the road.
As a first-year Education Fellow, I was both excited and apprehensive for our summer visits. I was eager to explore a part of the country with which I was unfamiliar and I was excited to do so in the company of the other Fellows, as we were still getting to know one another. However, as a first year fellow, I was apprehensive. Would I know how to answer and support my communities? Would I be able to answer their questions?
Most importantly…how could I capture this unique Southern Jewish experience so that I could share it with family and friends, and look back on it for years to come? I’m not one to buy tchotchkes, but I like taking pictures. It helps me remember the moment and it’s something inimitable as opposed to a souvenir that anyone could purchase. So I turned to Snapchat.
For those of you who are unfamiliar, Snapchat is a video messaging application that allows users to send pictures or videos that disappear after 10 seconds. When I write it out, I’ll admit, the whole concept is a bit ridiculous. It is one of those inventions that you did not know you needed, until it was created…and then you cannot imagine your life without it. A year ago, Snapchat created geo-filters, city-specific graphics that you can add to the bottom of your snaps. I realized that this was the perfect way to capture myself in the moment while being able to illustrate which city I was in.
Thus my geo-journey began. I made it my mission to take a Snapchat in every city we stopped in. It seems like a ridiculous goal but it provided me with a way to share my experience and take stock of all of the awesome places I was fortunate enough to visit. Plus, it provided the other fellows entertainment, as I cheered each time I discovered a new geo-filter (some of them even began “geo-ing” with me too) and it gave us something to look forward to on some of our longer drives.
6,600 miles and 25 cities later, I am back in the office and am still reeling from all of the incredible communities I visited, the new places I saw, and the lessons I learned. I promise I did more than just take Snapchats- I had the opportunity to lead services; to facilitate teacher trainings; meet congregants; and share the story of the ISJL.
And I have my geo-journey collage to prove it!