When Yossi Kahan, 22, goes out on Friday afternoons, he takes handfuls of Chabad.org’s weekly print publication with him.
A Chabad-Lubavitch rabbinical student in Manalapan, N.J., Kahan has a regular route where he visits Jewish business owners and engages them and their customers in discussions about that week’s Torah portion and other aspects of Judaism. Many of the men don the prayer boxes known as tefillin when Kahan produces a pair, and the women learn about when to light candles to usher in the Sabbath.
The handouts also leave an impression, says Kahan, who calls the publication – known until this week as Think Jewish – an invaluable resource.
“It gives them something more for when they have time, when they have a chance to sit down and read,” explains the 22-year-old. “They actually appreciate it very much.”
Culled from inspirational articles and scholarly texts available on Chabad.org, the four-year-old Think Jewish has grown into a customizable brochure people across North America have learned to look for on a weekly basis, whether at their synagogues, their children’s day schools, or from the friendly rabbi who walks in off the street. Thousands of copies hit the presses each week.
But on Friday, readers will encounter a completely revamped – and renamed – publication. Called The Scroll, the new handout is designed to get even more people reading, says Mendy Cohen, Chabad.org’s director of publications. Part business card, part learning tool, anytime read and conversation piece, it features local Sabbath times, Chabad House contact information, and a slew of helpful hints and tips.
As for the name, it was an easy choice, pointing to both Judaism’s central text and the Web experience found in the act of scrolling.
“The Scroll evokes a Torah scroll, which is the foundation of Jewish life,” says Cohen. “Through this publication, we are helping people engage their heritage and learn more about Jewish life.”
For Baruch Gorkin, who led the redesign, the project is all about “finding form that is in keeping with the very contemporary spirit of Chabad.org, thereby reaching a new audience for whom the previous visual tone and name didn’t necessarily resonate.
“This redesign makes the publication more relevant for a young audience; it’s more in line with its contemporary content,” continues Gorkin, whose portfolio includes rebranding campaigns for several major corporations. “It’s all about giving you a glimpse into the vast content that exists on Chabad.org. It’s a digest that invites you back into the site.”
Because The Scroll is available for bulk orders and and can be tailor-made for local institution unique communities, a QR code on the bottom of the first page allows readers to navigate their smartphones to any site a distributor wishes. Web addresses at the bottom of each article also point readers to places where they can get more information about a specific topic. (To order a subscription to The Scroll, click here.)
“With all the smartphones today, we really frequent our computers less and less. So we’ve added a QR code in each customization,” explains Cohen. “If you hand it out to people, they’ll scan it, and their browser will bring them to your own site for more information.”
Printed in Brooklyn, The Scroll has stepped up to a five-color as opposed to a four-color layout, mixing a bright orange to give the publication a special look.
“There’s a lot of technical work that goes into making the piece look so good,” says Cohen.
Cohen’s staff prints and sends out three issues at a time, and also sells direct subscriptions for $50 a year. All of the content is aimed at keeping people up to date and connected to Judaism, packing everything into a small and informative selection in a meaningful way.
Reader Norman Rosen says he’s saved every edition since the first day he received them.
“I absolutely love it,” he says. “I read it probably two or three times on Shabbos.”
Rabbi Levi Wolosow of the Chabad of Western Monmouth County, N.J., says that when yeshiva students go out on their routes to meet community members, he’s glad they’ll be giving out the new pamphlet.
“It’s a great thing to give people,” he says. “It doesn’t look too long or too big.”
Handing out the literature gives students a way to better connect with the community and to leave them with something other than just wishes for a good Shabbat. More than that, people look forward to it.
“It looks different and catchy and modern,” states Wolosow. “People are going to want to open it up.”
Gorkin sees the goal as creating something “modern and sleek” to draw people in.
“This is about quality Jewish content reaching a new level of its audience,” he says. “People who want to look at something that speaks their language: less didactic, more whimsical, more contemporary.”