Our New Logo

Two years ago the leadership of Temple Israel embarked on a journey to find out who we are and who we can be. The Strategic Planning committee practiced a version of the Jewish principle from Pirke Avot (5:22): Hafoch ba va-hafoch ba, d’chola ba (“Turn it and turn it again, for everything is in it”). Our leadership looked at our community and produced our new mission statement.

After hearing stories about how important Temple Israel has been in lives throughout the generations, it was clear to me that this vision statement is not new. It is who we have always been. Turn something around and look at it from different angles and you will discover what is at the core of its purpose: connecting people to each other, to God and to the needs of our world. Our strategic plan reinforced that this continues to be our congregation’s vision.

Temple Israeal logo

The new logo illustrates the core purpose as well. Its dominant image is the Hebrew letter shin, but this is no ordinary shin.

Rabbi Applebaum chose a shin to adorn the front of the ark on Merriman Road fifty years ago. Sheryl Aronson incorporated the shin into our previous logo, and it dominates the bima in Springside Drive.

The shin symbolizes one of the names of God, El Shaddai and is on the mezzuzot of our homes. It is also the first letter of Psalm 16 at the front of our sanctuary: “I set God before me and I shall never be shaken.”

With our new logo, I invite us to give our shin a third meaning: shalshelet. Shalshelet means “chain” as in Shalshelet Ha-Kabbalah: “the chain of Jewish tradition”. It links us to our past — our previous sacred space. It links us to the clergy who adopted it and to the people who looked at it. And, now, it links us to the people who see it on our website and letterhead.

I ask that when you see the new logo that you know all that it holds for our congregation. It is our link, our vision for making sure that no matter the circumstance — whether a simcha, a loss or a global pandemic — that we are a congregation linked together, never alone and always able to rely on those who hold onto us as a part of our community.

The second part of the logo is the flame.

A flame reminds us of the intimate side of Judaism — the candles lit on Shabbat or the candles lit when we remember a loved one. But it also reminds us that we practice Judaism with passion and not just procedure. In many ways the shin is the subject of our vision. It represents the people, the places and the God we know as our own. The flame is the verb. It represents our actions.

It is a flame made to be in movement, as we are. We are a progressive congregation — moving with the times, striving to live up to the words of Isaiah to be a “light unto the world.” Flames never sit still, even when they are weakened, they dance, bringing light into dark places and giving warmth where it is lacking. And as it gives light, it invites others to join us.

Our mission as a congregation is to work to kindle the lights that connect us.

Having worked with our board to develop this new symbol, I have been looking at it for months now. It has served as a sign of comfort for me during these strange and uncertain days. I look at it and see our sanctuary — even when we cannot be there. I see the unbreakable chain of community. I see the passionate spirit of our congregation, who moved their Judaism onto the internet without missing a single Shabbat. I see a light that we kindled to hold onto now and to welcome us back when we are together in person again. In it, I see our congregation and I pray you do as well.