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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.

Staff History

1969Esther Brown
1970-1971Doris Luz
1971Marguerite Cohen
1972-1974Penny Dachinger
1974-1978Jan Gottlieb
1979-1980Bev Leidel
1980Bonnie Evans
1980-1982Barbara Penzer
1982-1985Janet Feldman
1985-1988Ann Mulligan
1988Marcy Clemente
1988-1989Jo Helfant (Halfant?)
1990Catherine Parker
1991-2010Susie Blumenthal
2000-2010Susie Blumenthal, administrator
1990Catherine Parker
2000Marjorie Collins
2003Shirazeh Tabibi
2004-2005Alan Stump
2005-2006Julie Zakidalskaia
2005-2015Leonard Tow, bookkeeper
2006Brenna Koch, Marianna Balgurevich
2007-2008Dan Waxman
2008-2009David Kessler
2009Rachel Heaps, Shira Zemel
2009-2011Sandy Cohen, interim administrator
2010-2012(?)Shula Cooper
2011-presentRachel Gross, executive director
2014-presentRiannon Walsh, bookkeeper
2014Kelley Kidd, engagement and communications fellow
2014-presentJeannelle D’Isa, administrator
2015-presentLincoln Sklar, communications and engagement fellow
2015-presentNoah Westreich, director of youth engagement
1970-?Ralph Gray
2000?? Milton Morris
2000?-2004?Alan Stump
2004?-2009Rafael Vilatoro Reyes
2009-2014Camilo Richards
2014-presentJosue Portillo

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