In the spring of 1969, a group of 30 liberal Jews gathered to create a new congregation which would be open and comfortable for all individuals wishing to realize their own personal connections to Judaism. They decided to name it after the prophet Micah, (737-690 BCE), who preached simply that we should be just, kind, and humble. The first official gathering of Temple Micah was a Friday evening service, held three weeks later on July 11, 1969, at the Rider College Chapel. It was “open to the public,” as would be all future Temple Micah services and events, including High Holy Day services.
One of our early leaders and later a president of the congregation was Harry Kihn. Mr. Kihn, an active member of the Lawrenceville community, approached the Reverend H. Dana Fearon, then the pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville, and requested permission for their fledgling synagogue to use the church’s beautiful sanctuary for its first High Holy Day services in the fall of 1969. This historic church had been founded as the Maidenhead Church on a land grant in 1698. Dr. Fearon was enthusiastic about having a Jewish congregation share the church. He felt his congregation would benefit from the exposure to another religion and to people with different cultural backgrounds. He presented the idea to his church Trustees who agreed to a one-year trial – renewable pending success of the arrangement. The first High Holy Day service was held that fall at the church with a guest rabbi, Rabbi Alexander Schindler, who was then a Vice President of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations.
In 1970, Jack Mars, Temple Micah’s second president, met Rabbi Albert Ginsburgh, who was leading a floating congregation, Temple Judea, then meeting in Doylestown. With both a traditional background and liberal philosophy, he was quite eager to lead a young, part-time congregation, and so, in 1970, Albert Ginsburgh became our first rabbi, a position he held for the next 22 years. Moving to Boston in the mid- 1970’s, he still commuted “religiously” for all scheduled services. Also in 1970, Alfred Beck, joined Temple Micah serving as our first cantorial soloist for 24 years. Soon thereafter, Dorothy Koppelman, started a small but successful religious school, now named after a founder and former president, Irving Seligman.
In 1992, when Rabbi Ginsburgh retired, Temple Micah embarked, for the first time in its history, on a search for a new, part-time rabbi – not an easy task. Guided by then President Bob Pollack, we were fortunate to find Rabbi Ellen Greenspan, who had served as an Assistant Rabbi and Director of Education at Congregation Rodeph Shalom in Philadelphia, and who was seeking to lead a part-time congregation. It was a perfect match, and in the fall of 1992 she officiated at her first High Holy Day services. Since then Rabbi Greenspan brought new energy and innovation to the congregation, including family services, High Holy Days, and Friday Sabbath. She guided our acquisition of a beautiful Torah and ark as well as new, contemporary prayer books. The rabbi has also built a vibrant religious school that is now attended by 60 children, grades 2 through 10, and she officiated at as many as 12 to 15 b’nai mitzvah a year, as well as an annual Confirmation ceremony for our 10th graders.
In 1998, we were blessed once again when Adrienne Rubin joined our Temple Micah family as cantoral soloist. Ms. Rubin brings genuine warmth to all of our services. She also teaches music in the religious school, and together, she and the rabbi create an enjoyable and stimulating learning atmosphere for the children.
In the fall of 2012 we welcomed Rabbi Vicki Seren Tuckman, only our third rabbi after 43 years. Rabbi Tuckman is a Princeton resident with her husband and 3 children. A 2003 graduate of Hebrew Union College-JIR in Cincinnati, Ohio she comes to Temple Micah with a strong history of spiritual leadership and religious school administration, as past Assistant Rabbi at Congregation Beth Chaim in West Windsor, NJ and Director of Jewish Life at URJ Camp Harlam, among other numerous and superior credentials.
Since Temple Micah’s beginning, the staff and congregation of the Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville, as well as other community members of all faiths have played an important role in the success of Temple Micah, whether participating in our regular services, interfaith services, or Passover seders. Over the past 40-plus years Temple Micah members and friends have always contributed to the upkeep of the church and have generously supported their periodic capital fund raising projects. After all, this beautiful and historic church is our house of worship, and we are who we are, in large part, due to our extraordinary relationship with their gracious staff and membership.
Behind all of this, we have dedicated members on our Board of Trustees, led by our current president Larry Leder, as well as many other volunteers who serve this congregation. We have every reason to believe that our good fortune will continue, enabling Temple Micah to remain a vital institution in our community and always “open to the public” for many years to come.