It’s mid-morning on Thursday as seven people pile into Susan Perlman’s office at our San Francisco headquarters. Many of us bring our cups of coffee. The last two people have to roll their own chairs into the room; it’s not really fitted out for team meetings of this size. Our group consists of Susan Perlman, Matt Sieger, Rich Robinson, Sean Trank, Emmanuel Mebasser, Carolyne Rohrig and myself (Ruth Rosen). We are sometimes joined by one or two others.
We come to brainstorm. At times the “storming” gets a little noisy as we amuse and interrupt one another. Other mornings, it seems like we are having more of a trickle or even a drought than a brainstorm. Someone will pose a question and we sit and stare at each other silently. Someone may pick up the smooth wooden box on the center of the table or absently pull apart a paper clip… until one of us gets a dreamy look and says, “What about …?” He or she will start slowly, then as the idea grows, the words spill out rapidly and others begin to interject. A sudden electrical storm begins to flash as we spark off one another’s ideas.
Besides brainstorming, we encourage, critique and refine one another’s projects as well as projects that come in from our branch missionaries and volunteers. We have developed broadsides, gospel postcards, scripts, flash animations for our website, advertisements to make our ministry known to those who might take an interest and more.
Susan Perlman* oversees our publications, web and multimedia staff. She’s one of our founders (also one of the founders of the New Jerusalem Players, our first Jewish gospel drama team). Susan has always worked to keep creativity and teamwork at the core of our ministry. She is always so busy and full of energy that many of us tease her, pointing out that she is like her native New York in that she never sleeps. As a senior executive of our ministry, Susan serves on the boards of many other ministries and organizations. This has her traveling quite a bit, and enables her to see things from a global perspective.
Matt Sieger was a sports writer before he came on our staff many years ago. He served as part of our missionary staff and then worked with a Bay Area public transit company before returning as a full time writer/editor with us in 2008. Among other things, Matt is one of our broadside writers as well as the editor of ISSUES, our bimonthly publication for Jewish people who are willing to know why we believe in Jesus. He also put together our most recent book of testimonies, Stories of Jews Who Believe in Jesus. Matt has a good eye for detail and a good nose for sniffing out a story.
Rich Robinson* is our senior researcher at Jews for Jesus headquarters. Intellectual? Yes. Zany? Absolutely. He has been with our ministry since the mid-seventies, having served as a missionary in several of our U.S. branches, as well as traveling a couple of terms with the Liberated Wailing Wall. He’s been working at our headquarters since 1990. Rich wrote several songs featured on our recordings; more recently he co-authored Christ in the Feast of Pentecost with David Brickner and is currently writing a book about the Sabbath. Rich also wrote the “Welcome to the Jews for Jesus Bar” broadside included with our June newsletter.
Emmanuel Mebasser is in charge of our web department. Emmanuel has been on our staff since 2007 but he also served with us for a couple of summer internships before joining us full time. He has a tremendous passion for advancing the cause of Jewish evangelism through the Internet, and has loaded our website with opportunities for Jewish seekers to explore the gospel through written articles, videos, flash animations and more. Emmanuel is what you might call quietly quirky. He is the creator of our animated Kosher Joe series (featured on our website) and the voice of the lead character.
Sean Trank is one of the newer members of our staff, having come aboard in 2010. However he is not new to Jews for Jesus, having grown up in our Camp Gilgal and having served with us on short-term evangelistic projects like Massah (featured in last month’s newsletter). Sean is our multi-media man. He is tech-savvy and a real social networker with a million ideas and a lot of initiative. He spearheaded our “Journeys of Faith” series, featuring over three dozen evangelistic testimonies on Youtube. He and Emmanuel share an office and work on numerous projects together.
Carolyne Rohrig was a journalist for years before coming on our staff in 2001. She is our Co-Laborer in Messiah (CLIM) coordinator, which means that she trains and oversees our network of volunteers. She is always advocating for creative new ways to equip said volunteers to do evangelism. She also keeps a sense of community among volunteers who live far from one another through an internal publication just for CLIMS called Shtickel. Carolyn does not merely encourage others to do evangelism; she has participated in many of our outreaches, including a Behold Your God, Buenos Aires.
Ruth Rosen* I’ve served with Jews for Jesus since the 70’s. I have done quite a bit of “Jewish Gospel Drama” as well as regular missionary work, while always gravitating toward writing and editing. I edit our monthly print newsletter and our electronic publication, RealTime, in addition to writing broadsides, story books and booklets. I also give input/help with editing a variety of my colleagues’ books and projects. My strength is seeing connections between ideas or images that may seem disparate. I am often whimsical or playful in our Thursday meetings, which is good because sometimes I get overly serious when left to myself.
If you think about it, pray for us on Thursday mornings, at about 10 A.M. Pacific Time. Ask God to help us with our little piece of cutting-edge creativity and the part we play in bringing the gospel to the attention of all people—and especially Jewish people.
*Susan, Rich and I remain as missionary staff, though we serve in administrative roles. That means that, like our branch missionaries, we are responsible for raising our support.