While the Nashville Jewish Community numbers less than 10,000 in size, it is dynamic, diverse, and close-knit. The community supports five synagogues, three preschools, a day school and a new, innovative middle-school. There are two kosher restaurants, and fresh kosher meat and chicken are available at several area stores. Good old-fashioned Southern hospitality greets newcomers to the community and there are ample opportunities to be involved as volunteers and leaders in local organizations.
The Jewish Federation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee raises funds for Jewish organizations active at the local level as well as internationally. In addition, the Federation publishes The Observer, providing news and opinions twice a month to the Nashville Jewish community. In addition, the Federation spearheads collaborative efforts in response to community needs, such as the Senior Services Committee, which oversees the provision of a wide variety of programs and services to senior adults by various organizations in the Nashville Jewish community. (www.jewishnashville.org)
The Gordon Jewish Community Center serves as the gathering place for many community events. The facility offers in-door and out-door pools, tennis courts, fitness facilities and exercise classes, youth and adult athletics, social and educational programming for seniors, art exhibitions, and a pre-school. TheFederation and Jewish Family Service are housed in the GJCC building. Akiva School shares the campus, as does a poignant Holocaust memorial designed by local artist and steel worker, Alex Limor. (www.nashvillejcc.org)
Jewish Family Service of Nashville and Middle Tennessee, Inc. is an independent 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to provide professional social services from Jewish perspectives that respond to and support individuals and families through life’s transitions.
It offers adoption services, senior-oriented programs, financial assistance, counseling (individual, couples and families), family life and community enrichment, and information and referral services. (http://jfsnashville.org)
Nashville has a number of fantastic educational opportunities for children from pre-school through midle school.
The 3-star rated Gordon Jewish Community Center Preschool serves children ages six weeks to pre-kindergarten. Its curriculum uses a developmental, child-centered, constructivist and Reggio Emilia inspired approach to learning. Some of the components include Handwriting Without Tears (an easy-to-learn, hands-on approach to writing, fine motor development, and other crucial school readiness skills), Get Set for School (a developmentally appropriate curriculum that is a multisensory approach that addresses different learning styles in reading readiness, language, literacy, numbers, and math), TheMusicClass.com, Jewish Enrichment, Swim Lessons and Physical Education. (www.nashvillejcc.org/pre-k/)
The 3-star rated Micah Children’s Academy highlights a different traditional Jewish value each month. The program utilizes project-based learning and uses the Reggio Emilia model of instruction. In addition, Micah’s program includes Nature Class, KidSkills, Music, Spanish and Tot Shabbat. (www.micahchildrensacademy.org)
The 3-star rated Temple Preschool philosophy and curriculum are based on the National Association of the Education of Young Children’s (NAEYC) guidelines of developmentally appropriate practices and the TN. Dept. of Human Services Star-quality program. The Temple Preschool provides weekly experiences with Shabbat, symbols, Hebrew prayers, music and dance, celebrations and special foods, and its Judaica coordinator prepares enrichment activities such as baking Challahs, making prayer books, and a variety of holiday activities. In addition, the Temple Preschool offers multicultural education, programming with experts in a variety of fields, intergenerational experiences, and every day opportunities to celebrate the Jewish heritage as well as “MusicStar” (a multicultural music experience) and “Kidskills” (a creative movement class). (www.templenashville.org)
Akiva School offers kindergarten through sixth grades and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schoolsas well as a member of RAVSAK. The rigorous curriculum includes language arts, science, social studies, a STEM focus, Jewish Studies, Hebrew language, music, dance, art, and physical education. Many students graduate Akiva fluent in Hebrew and are able to seamlessly analyze and understand high-level texts in both Hebrew and English. Graduates are consistently accepted into the most selective private middle and high-schools, as well as the magnet options, and are recognized as leaders in both character and academic achievement. Akivastudents take part in extracurricular activities, in after school clubs, as well as sports teams. Akiva is also proud to host the annual Math Contest in Nashville, an event known to be one of the finest Middle School math competitions in Nashville. (www.akivanashville.net)
Jewish Middle School of Nashville commenced operations in 2015 and serves grades seven through nine. JMS MS integrates traditional classroom teaching, with online learning and cross-curricular study experiences in its daily schedule. JMS is located at Nashville’s Jewish community campus and features a technology-based learning center equipped to deliver best practices in blended learning as well as a warm and intimate classroom setting where each student can be nurtured and supported. (www.jmsnashville.org)
Fresh kosher chicken and meat as well as dairy products, grocery items and frozen foods are available at Kroger’s Belle Meade, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. There are two kosher restaurants, Grins Vegetarian Café at Vanderbilt Hillel and Woodlands Indian Vegetarian Cuisine. There is also a kosher food truck with a meat menu coming to Vanderbilt! There are several kosher caterers in town and the Loew’s Vanderbilt Plaza can cater kosher events. For more information, see Keeping Kosher in Nashville.