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!
For two years, I lived in a fraternity house… sort of.
After earning my first degree from Oxford College of Emory University, I moved to Atlanta to attend classes at Emory’s Atlanta Campus. Rather than stay in a dorm, I opted to move into a run-down, five-bedroom house with four of my closest friends.
We called it The Brohaus. And we weren’t affiliated with any fraternal organization, but if you picture a frat house—you’re picturing The Brohaus.
We threw massive parties, watched countless movies, and had our fair share of bonfires in our backyard. Whether I got home at 5 PM or 2 AM, I could count on someone being awake and doing something interesting; designing film sets, blogging about the movie industry, making observations about life in Georgia, or doing important work in the field of Political Science. There was never a time where I didn’t feel inspired by the work being done around me.
We were actually a very studious bunch of lads, but we still managed to have fun together. For two years, my wonderful roommates and The Brohaus provided me with countless happy memories and stories.
In January of 2017, I celebrated with my roommates and friends when I received a job offer from the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life. I made my preparations to move away, and arranged to move into an apartment all my own in Jackson, Mississippi—not so very far from Atlanta, and yet a world away.
One of my roommates and best friends helped me with the move, and before I knew it, everything was different. In preparation for my move and transition into the workplace, I knew roughly what to expect: I would be living on my own. I was the only male-identified new hire in my fellowship cohort that year. I’d have to learn a whole new city. I’d be giving up so many familiar things.
What I couldn’t anticipate was how much that I wouldn’t have to give up.
Yes, I missed my Brohaus guys. I was surprised to find, however, a similar sense of inspiration coming from the new people around me at work. Every day, I see my co-workers writing brilliant lesson plans, taking on impressive projects, and pulling unique programming ideas out of thin air.
As I grew more experienced in my role as an ISJL Education Fellow, I was surprised at how my undergrad life prepared me for the work I was doing; my thirst for the absurd translated well into writing satire articles for our monthly newsletter, my party planning instincts helped me facilitate events in the communities that I serve, and my knowledge of film and editing has helped me produce content for the ISJL curriculum and Education Conference. I may still miss throwing parties and grilling hamburgers at 10pm, but I’m blessed to still be in an environment that challenges me and encourages me to be the best version of myself.
Every time I return to Atlanta, now in my capacity as a Fellow serving Jewish communities there, I make it a point to drive past that run-down house in Decatur. I remember the happy memories and the experiences that helped make me who I am today—it may seem a strange journey from The Brohaus to the Jewish professional world, but I’m just enjoying the ride.