This past month I attended the second JELI retreat in Birmingham, Alabama. JELI focuses on personal growth, leadership practice, Jewish learning, and community building. I was joined by Charleston Jewish community member Gary Weinstein, a mentor for the JELI program, along with other JELI fellows and mentors from around the Southeast. Some of the most memorable highlights were visiting the Rosa Parks museum where we witnessed Rosa Parks’ arrest and attended a mass meeting at Holt Street Baptist Church. Another highlight was hearing a first hand account from Joanne Bland who marched on Bloody Sunday in Selma as a child, followed by walking the historic Edmund Pettus bridge with my fellows and mentors. It was so powerful to gain a better understanding of how minorities in the south have faced great injustices and how we are still dealing with issues of systemic racism today. The JELI retreat provided time to ponder how Jewish professionals build and sustain strong communities in the South given the history, culture, politics, and divergence of opinions. For an in depth look at the Birmingham experience, click here.