One of America’s Oldest Synagogues Adds Both Simplicity and Meaning to Their Logo

Temple Israel, founded in Memphis in 1854, recently engaged brand identity specialist firm Tactical Magic to refresh their graphic identity system – starting with a new look for the congregation’s “burning bush” logo.

The new graphic is also incorporated in complementary identity treatments for the Barbara K. Lipman Early Learning Center, the Wendy and Avron Fogelman Religious School, and the Temple Israel Museum. The updated identity system is part of a larger effort to provide staff and lay leaders with consistent tools for electronic and print communications.

“Frankly, I was amazed at the depth of thought behind this seemingly simple image for Temple,” observes Rabbi Micah Greenstein. “I knew something was up when [Tactical Magic Creative Director] Trace Hallowell appeared at Shabbat morning services, spent time in the Temple Archives, and was found taking random pictures around Temple.”


Rabbi Greenstein elaborates on the symbolism, “It was brilliant of Trace to take the previous Temple logo and re-shape it into four Hebrew letter shins. He captured the shin on the ark of our sanctuary, the same shin that appears on the doorposts of our homes, and the name for God Almighty, which begins with the letter shin (Shaddai) in the Torah. He went even deeper by making it four shins, representing the four matriarchs of the Jewish people. The twelve flames represent the twelve tribes of Israel, especially fitting for a historic congregation like ours. I was taken aback by something so simple, beautiful, and profound as four shins igniting the eternal light of our faith.”

“We now have a consistent image to project in all our printed materials,” continues Rabbi Greenstein. “Beyond the efficiency and economy of scale Temple will reap in the long run, we may very well have the most meaningful and exquisite synagogue image to project not only to the Jewish community but to the entire community of faith.”


Temple Israel Communications Committee Chair Mary Trotz, who helped spearhead the project, clarifies the objectives of the new identity system, “Temple Israel is a leader in providing outstanding clergy support, spiritual guidance, and programming for Reform Jews wishing to explore and expand their Jewish identity. The goal of this project was to give staff and lay leaders time-saving tools so they can focus more on Temple’s mission, while bringing the aesthetic up to the standard of everything else at Temple.”

“The Temple Israel identity design engagement has been delightful in every way,” says Trace Hallowell, Creative Director and Managing Partner at Tactical Magic. He added, “The team has been wonderful to work with, the response to the work has been heartening, and the outcome is something we’re very proud of – on both a professional and personal level. It is an honor to have been entrusted with Temple’s identity.”

Temple President Nancy Robinson adds her own perspective, saying, “Working with Mary and the design firm Tactical Magic was a wonderful experience. Looking at our new logo, I feel it represents strength, heritage, warmth, and connection. As Temple continues to strive to embrace the needs of each congregant through worship, programming, and outreach, our new logo will be a symbol of our future and our members.”

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