Temple Micah has always been our home. For years after it was founded in 1963, the congregation remained small and tight knit and we acted like an extended family, celebrating holidays and life cycle events together and pitching in to teach in the coop religious school and work in the office. Because everybody knew everybody, we didn’t need a formal process to recognize the time, energy and ideas that our fellow members contributed to the life of the temple. Like a family, we passed down our stories orally, recounting anecdotes to newer members at an oneg after services or around a Shabbat dinner table.
Co-chair of the Member Recognition Task Force, Shelley Grossman, tells about the genesis of the Living History Project
Micah thrived and grew. The family became a broader community. We hired administrative staff and professional teachers. Elements of our history were documented in an archive of board meeting minutes, member directories, copies of the newsletter, and picture albums of temple events. For our 40th anniversary in 2003, long-time member Brenda Levenson wrote a lively history of the congregation, (link) Derech Micah (Micah’s Journey), A History of Temple Micah (1963-2003), which was published that year. She updated the volume for our 50th anniversary in 2013.
Co-chair of the Member Recognition Task Force, Mary Beth Schiffman, talks about the Living History Project.
We are now more than a half century old and our numbers exceed 600 households. Not only do we no longer know each other personally, we have no official way to recognize and celebrate the people that have made Micah what it continues to be. From the beginning, we practiced our fundamental belief in egalitarianism by eschewing a popular mode of recognition, bronze plaques honoring large donors. Micah walls have always been plaque free. In 2014, the temple president appointed a 12-member Task Force on Member Recognition to come up with ways to preserve Micah memories. After a year of deliberation, the task force made three recommendations to the board. This Living History grew out of one of those recommendations.
Timing turned out to be crucial. The wonders of technology enable The Living History to accomplish several goals at once. Video interviews revive the original method of passing down history through anecdotes. Still pictures, graphics, text and lists record the contributions Micah members made of their time, intellect, ingenuity, hard work and humor over the decades. Digital flexibility allows us to correct mistakes, fill in historical holes and keep up with history as it is being made today.
The Living History is for all of us. Please help make it accurate, complete and full of life.