Dear Congregation Emanu-El readers and members
Friday, July 28, 2017 marks five years and a day since I took over the design of Congregation Emanu-El’s newsletter.
When I began, I did so for the entirely selfish reason that I found it difficult to plough through the newsletter as it was at the time:
My first stab at an illustrated, easy-on-the-eye illustrated newsletter—with special sections for news and synagogue schedule, colour-coded headlines (red for new; green for repeated items; purple or grey for past-week events), and other devices to make the news easier to read and take in at a glance—looked like this:
these days, it looks like this:
Also in the past five years:
- Subscriptionhas more than doubled—from 287 subscriber households, to 613 (an auspicious number = תרי”ג mitzvot in the Torah)—representing an average growth rate of five or six new subscribers every month
- Typical opening rates have also more than doubled, from 25.4% to over 50% (more than double the industry average for religious congregation newsletters)—which means that the actual number of readers has quadrupled since 2012
- Even more importantly, in terms of the engagement of the community, the click-through rate (the percentage of readers clicking a link in the newsletter to read more about an item), has increased more than twentyfold—from 1.0% to 25% or more (nearly ten times the 2.6% average for religious congregation newsletters)
- New features have been added to the news items—including an In the Community section; NTDWBJ (Nothing To Do With Being Jewish) photos; The Last Word (jokes); Mipi HaRav (The Rabbi’s Corner); recipes; classified ads; and more
- An online news blog has been created to complement the newsletter, serving both as a repository of the full text of items that are introduced in the newsletter, and as a news archive.
In total, I have overseen over 250 newsletter issues. After five years, however, I feel that it’s time for me to move on. Although in any given week, each issue takes up only 2.5–3 hours of my time, over a year that adds up to around 150 hours—the equivalent (I only recently realized) of a full month’s work, each year, on a full-time basis. This has had a small but cumulative impact on my livelihood and my personal projects, many of which have been neglected, and I would like to get back to them while I still can.
Fortunately, with established protocols now in place, I am able to leave you in the extremely capable hands of Frances Rosenberg, who for the past three years has served as the newsletter’s eagle-eyed copyeditor, and in her varied and illustrious career as a physician, biochemist, and university professor has also designed and published quite a few newsletters. We all owe her thanks for taking on this double duty, and to Frances Aknai for her continuing stalwart work as News Desk editor.
In preparation for the handover at the end of the month, the entire Congregation Emanu-El online news has been ported over from Tumblr to WordPress (the others will follow shortly). You can check it out now, if you like—or simply click one of the Read More… links in the current newsletter. This has a number of advantages over the previous platform—including statistics, tag clouds, a search field, etc.—but also paves the way for more features in future, as a new, WordPress-based Congregation Emanu-El website is created in the foreseeable future, which will integrate the congregation’s news and other blogs with the content of the current website, which has been so ably managed by Lincoln Shlensky.
The congregation’s Twitter and Facebook accounts remain unchanged, for now.
Parting is such sweet sorrow—so this is not so much as a goodbye, as Au revoir—and thanks for all the gefilte fish!
– Jonathan Stoppi