The First Challenge: Choosing a Name
Creating a new brand identity for two St. Louis legacy congregations that were merging into one is no easy task. After more than a century, members of each congregation had become identified with their name, image, building, and even seat location.
The two congregations, Brith Sholom Kneseth Israel and Shaare Zedek, deliberated for four years before they joined together. Their combined names would be too long. An acronym was also out of the question. Most members of the naming committee initially favored borrowing one word from each congregation (Shaare Shalom) but eventually the committee’s co-chairs recommended that the Board choose a wholly new name for the synagogue.
At every step of the merger process, the leadership of the two legacy congregations stressed that they were not simply combining two entities but were creating something completely new. The name needed to coincide with this philosophy and represent the creation of a new entity.
Every aspect of the new synagogue—location, personnel, ritual practice, governance, and vision for the future—had to be considered afresh, in light of present circumstances and a desire to create a vibrant new shul (synagogue) that would endure for the next hundred-plus years. Indeed, the mission statement of the new congregation describes it as “The new spirit of Conservative Judaism in the Midwest.”
The proposed name, Kol Rinah, was intended to be a constant reminder that future decisions will be based on reasoned analysis, a shared sense of yiddishkeit (the Jewish way of life), and the courage of our convictions, not merely because “my old congregation did it this way.”
The following considerations informed this recommendation:
- “Kol Rinah,” or “Voice of Joy” is an active name. It does not describe a place (Beit, Shaare) or a group of people (Knesset, Anshei) but rather the acts of prayer, singing, and praise. It connotes dynamism and joyful participation in Jewish practice.
- “Kol” (voice) has other meanings as well: (1) a wellspring or exemplar, radiating its message outward to the community; and representation (as in “a voice in government”), favoring egalitarianism, diversity; (2) and keruv (to bring close, to welcome), all of which increase the number of people with a voice in the Jewish community.
- The name alludes to a well-known liturgical passage from the Hallel, in Psalm 118: “The voice of joy and salvation is in the tents of the righteous.”
The name, Kol Rinah, was accepted and approved by the Board. An immediate press release stated “Congregation Kol Rinah embodies the new spirit of Conservative Judaism in the Midwest. It radiates the joy of worship, learning, and Jewish music into our souls and out to the families, friends and community. Come pray, learn, sing and celebrate with us.”
The Second Challenge: Designing a Logo
The communications committee was charged with creating the new logo and graphics. The committee evaluated a number of preliminary designs that were submitted by three different graphic designers. Some images emerged as being important to the goal and identity of the new congregation:
- Multiple colors (representing variable ages, origins, orientations, inclusion, and a full spectrum of possibilities)
- The symbol of the shofar [a ram’s-horn trumpet blown by the ancient Hebrews in battle and during religious observances and used in modern Judaism during the Jewish high holidays] (representing the theme of voice and music)
- The words Kol Rinah (featured strongly alone or with a qualifying tag line, “Share Your Voice” or with the Hebrew text for Kol Rinah)
Following a series of votes, graphic versions, adjustments, three logo design finalists were presented, and the board chose this final mark.
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