Even a do-it-yourself synagogue needs office space and someone to do the administrative work. In 1967, when Rabbi Bernard H.Mehlman came on board four years after the creation of the temple, an office was set up in his family’s basement, which turned out to be inconvenient for everyone involved. So, it wasn’t long before the congregation rented office space at 700 7th St., SW. When Temple Micah signed its first space-sharing agreement with St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church in 1971, the temple opened its first on-site office.
Our records don’t show who ran the office until 1969, when Esther Brown worked 25 hours a week with the assistance of The Thursday Group, teams of three or four members who volunteered in two hour shifts. (Talk about unsung heroes! See belated recognition in the chart below) Through the 1970s, ‘80s and into the ‘90s a series of part time secretaries—backed up by member volunteers—handled the congregation’s administrative business. In 1991, Susie Blumenthal was hired part time and remained with the temple for 18 years, going full time and earning promotion to administrator. When illness forced Susie to leave in 2010, Sandy Cohen, a long time professional temple administrator, came out of retirement to serve as interim administrator until 2011, when Rachel Gross was hired as Micah’s first executive director.
Susie Blumenthal – Her Start at Temple Micah
The first day, I opened the desk drawer and found a two foot high stack of checks and paperwork that had not been processed…Temple Micah was my home and it felt like my home.
Along the way, as the congregation grew staff members were added to meet the needs of an expanding, more complicated institution. Today, the temple has numerous personnel, including office and Machon Micah staff. But members continue to volunteer for office chores to the present day, especially in the extra busy period before the High Holy Days.
Rachel Gross on Her Role as Temple Executive Director
I get to touch every part of the synagogue through what I do…This is a fun place to work…People can be their whole selves here…A big part of my job is to figure out how to say yes to new ideas.
|1988-1989||Jo Helfant (Halfant?)|
|FULL TIME OFFICE HEADS WITH THEIR STAFFS|
|2000-2010||Susie Blumenthal, administrator|
|2005-2015||Leonard Tow, bookkeeper|
|2006||Brenna Koch, Marianna Balgurevich|
|2009||Rachel Heaps, Shira Zemel|
|2009-2011||Sandy Cohen, interim administrator|
|2011-present||Rachel Gross, executive director|
|2014-present||Riannon Walsh, bookkeeper|
|2014||Kelley Kidd, engagement and communications fellow|
|2014-present||Jeannelle D’Isa, administrator|
|2015-present||Lincoln Sklar, communications and engagement fellow|
|2015-present||Noah Westreich, director of youth engagement|
|2004?-2009||Rafael Vilatoro Reyes|
One of the things that makes Temple Micah unique in the synagogue world, and probably anywhere, is the high percentage of our staff that go on to rabbinical school. In the last few years alone, these young staff members have moved from Micah directly to rabbinical studies:
- Rachel Heaps
- Danny Moss
- Stephanie Crawley
- Caitlin Brazner
- Vanessa Harper
- Noah Westreich
In addition, these children of Micah members have also gone on to rabbinical school:
- Emily Aronson
- Aaron Torop