This week we launch the first installment of our 15th birthday celebration. Over the coming months, we plan to share many more installments of this special project highlighting major stories and trends that we covered during these years.

Fifteen years is a long time in the world of Jewish publishing, especially the magazine world. Visit a kosher supermarket today, and you’ll find newsstands crammed with a diverse assortment of reading material. Back when Mishpacha entered the market, it was a pioneering step. As the market grew more demanding and sophisticated, we kept developing and maturing too: raising the bar on writing, on graphics and photography, on reporting standards and special projects.

Still, some things about Mishpacha have always stayed the same. In honor of this milestone, I wondered whether we could we isolate those trademark qualities. I started out working as a translator from home, so I wasn’t part of that initial team staying late at night and building a new product. Some of the people who’ve been working here for many years helped identify the ingredients of this weekly enterprise.

The Energy The Mishpacha headquarters has a decidedly young feel. That’s not because of the age of the staff — we have all ages, including some veteran editors and reporters with decades of experience — so much as the energy. It’s a place where people with good ideas and drive are invited to move forward. A place where respect and responsibility are readily offered, even to younger people. The unspoken welcome to those with talent, ideas, and initiative is take your idea, make it happen, and find your place on the team.

The Old Along with that young vibe, Mishpacha is a place that treasures the old, awarding an honored spot to history and nostalgia. I remember quite a few Yom Tov supplements that we’ve done over the years with a historical focus. After sending one of those off to print, I worried that no one would read it: It was too holy, too heavy, too historical. Then the reviews came in: The readers loved the way history had taken on human proportions, color, and shape.

The New At the same time, this publication relentlessly pursues the new. There’s a constant parade of new columns, new styles, new visuals. I don’t know if a year has passed without something new being introduced. It’s exciting, if sometimes dizzying, to constantly live in development mode, to keep questioning whether it’s good enough or ready for a refresh. But our world keeps changing, along with our reading spans and tastes — even our vocabulary and grammar — and so the magazine keeps changing too.

The Compass To help us keep our compass, we’ve always worked closely with a rabbinic board. Our rabbinic advisors review every word and photo that appear in the magazine. Sometimes their comments result in quick changes or deletions, sometimes in long, involved conversations, sometimes in consultations with the leading poskim of our generation. Always, there is the implicit understanding that editorial considerations bow to their discretion.

The Tone Mishpacha is a publication that respects the reader. We’ve always done our best not to preach. That’s probably one of the top reasons to turn down material or send it back for a rewrite. Our writers and editors work hard to produce quality copy — but not so scholarly or elevated that it feels condescending or distant.

The Mandate It’s also not a publication that aims to bash. At one brainstorming session for a tagline encapsulating Mishpacha, we came up with “celebrate the world we share.” That really does sum up a lot of our mandate: to highlight the beauty of our lifestyle, to strengthen the connections between our readers, to point out our shared heroes and victories.

Even when we talk about those aspects of our society that aren’t perfect, it’s not an “unveiling the sordid secrets” type of approach. Instead, we highlight people who have found, or are working to find, solutions. Or we’ll spark a conversation — with the underlying message being “let’s discuss this together so we can make things better.”

One of the most gratifying results of these 15 years of deadlines — more gratifying, even, than seeing those stuffed newsstands that are evidence of an entire industry — is the connective role that Mishpacha has come to play. Not only do readers clip pages for personal inspiration, they call and write to be connected with resources through the magazine. There are support groups that were formed as a result of articles, entire circles of people giving and drawing strength because they read the same words.

This team hasn’t just put out 15 years of magazines. They haven’t just sparked the development of a rich and growing industry. They’ve spun 15 times 50 webs of connection for Jews around the globe.

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 762)