Sharing the News
In the days before the digital revolution, Temple Micah relied on the telephone and the post office to maintain regular communication within the community. The telephone was the instrument to get out urgent news: last minute change of plans, weather emergencies, or the then blessedly rare occasion of a death in the temple family. Members established a phone tree that got right to work calling the entire membership.
For news that could wait, the postal service was the primary delivery system. In the mid-1960s, before it hired a rabbi, before it even had a home, the Southwest Hebrew Congregation, as it was called in those days, distributed a periodic Newsletter—with a Post Office box as the address. It was a 1- or 2- page mimeographed sheet providing information about services, events and congregational news. (Note to readers born after 1970: mimeographing was a cumbersome process of typing on a waxed stencil which was then attached to a drum on a hand-cranked machine that forced ink through the holes in the wax and onto sheets of paper.)
The Bulletin was a monthly publication and grew in length and substance with the congregation. In the early 1970s, then editor Rochelle Stanfield held a contest for a more distinctive name. The Vine won and has stuck for more than 40 years. Eventually, the mimeograph gave way to the Xerox machine. Photos were added. A professional layout artist improved the design. Since 2004, a PDF version of The Vine has been available on the Micah website.
The digital age came to Micah just before the turn of the millennium. In 1999, Ivan Sindell registered the domain http://www.templemicah.org and Ed Grossman and his teenaged son David designed the first website. Grossman served as webmaster for five years, providing a wide range of information about the temple itself, the rabbis and staff, services, temple activities, dates and events. David Diskin, in consultation with Grossman, his fellow computer/network maven and other interested members, updated the website and took over as webmaster in 2004. He redesigned the website and added images, videos and audio as well as technological improvements. Geri Nielsen maintained the website calendar, which she continues to do today. The end of 2016 ushered in a new website, designed and operated by the temple staff, part of the general professionalization of Temple Micah’s administration.
Meanwhile, along with the website came email, which soon replaced the telephone for urgent (and not-so-urgent) communications between the temple office and the membership. Ad hoc messages led to the establishment of a standard weekly email, now sent to all members every Thursday. In 2014 a communications fellow on the office staff established a set format for the Thursday email with an attractive design. Another standard email format was added for condolence notices in the event of the death of a member or a member’s immediate family to provide funeral and shiva information—thus completing a five-decade transition from the 20th-century telephone to the 21st-century digital world.
Shelley Grossman talks about the Vine’s history
I’ve been editor on and off since 1968…In 1971, I held a naming contest and The Vine won… During the Vietnam War, the content was very political. In the 70’s and 80’s, it became all about the temple and now, in 2017, it has returned to its roots.