As we prepare to welcome more than a half-dozen new Jewish professionals to Mississippi for internships and fellowships at the ISJL, we’ve asked a few of them to share their thoughts on heading South. The fourth piece in this series comes from Rachel Fraade, who will spend the next two years as an ISJL Education Fellow.
As June approached, I spent every day running around Durham, North Carolina, in a bittersweet frenzy, trying to fit in all of my favorite eateries, side streets, and spots in nature. I spent my last week in that town earning my chops as a North Carolinian… just in time to leave.
Before moving, I made sure I got in important Durham-must-see activities like visiting the historic lighthouses of the Outer Banks. I’ve felt alternately distressed at leaving Durham, excited to arrive in Jackson, and a confusing mix of the two. I’ve come to deeply love Durham and North Carolina – this love was what drew me to remain in the South and join the work of the ISJL – and it’s this love that makes me excited to move to Jackson.
When I first arrived in Durham, I knew nothing about the city or the state in which it resides. I was warned by some people that it was sub-par or unsafe, and heard more about the racism of North Carolina than about the physical beauty and rich history of the state. These past four years have given me countless chances to delve into challenging histories and current events, developing a love for the state because of – not in spite of – the difficulties of its contrasts. I feel that I have truly come to know Durham, and have enjoyed every moment of learning about it. While I am sad to leave North Carolina, I am equally excited at the opportunity to learn about a new city in the same way.
What histories of Jackson will take me by surprise? What local figures, past and present, will inspire me in the way that Durham’s Pauli Murray
has? What local businesses will become familiar sites of comfort, and what streets will become the running routes I know well?
I consider myself lucky: I am leaving a home I cherish, and arriving in a new place that I hope will become equally as beloved. I’m looking forward to long wandering afternoons and road trips; to a new favorite coffee shop and reading books about local history; to new friends and experiences that will broaden my perspective. A home is a place not just of comfort, but also of growth, and I am looking forward to making my next home in Jackson this summer -and for the next two years.