Verizon removed the category headings titled "Temples & Synagogues – Jewish-Messianic" and "Temples & Synagogues – Judaic" from their SuperPages.
The move came as a result of the persistence of concerned Jews like Steven L. Lubetkin, 48, a resident of Cherry Hill, N.J., who contacted Verizon explaining that listing Messianic synagogues under a Jewish heading might erroneously lead worshippers to Christian institutions.
"I hit the ceiling," said Lubetkin, vice president of membership and public relations for Temple Emanuel in Cherry Hill, as well as vice president of government and public relations for the Jewish Community Relations Council of Southern New Jersey.
Although Verizon recently refined their listing with the headings "Synagogues – Judaic" and "Synagogues – Messianic," they plan to go even further.
Starting with editions coming out later this year in Manhattan and Gloucester County, N.J., the new category headings will be "Synagogues" and "Synagogues – Messianic," according to Vanessa Banks, who works in public affairs for Verizon SuperPages.
The phone books for Camden and Burlington counties will follow suit in 2006.
The company is considering making the change for the Philadelphia-area directory as well.
"We have no plans to make this change nationwide since we realize the needs of consumers and advertisers vary from market to market," said Banks via e-mail. "We'll continue to evaluate changes on a book-by-book basis, based on the requirements of customers and consumer preferences."
After Lubetkin's initial complaint, Verizon did not respond, so he decided to go to the top.
"The most effective way to get a company's attention is to go to senior management," said Lubetkin who obtained chairman and CEO Ivan Seidenberg's e-mail address on the Internet and wrote him about the issue.
"Within 24 hours, I got a response from his office," he said. "They understood the concern."
Though Lubetkin would prefer that Verizon list "Messianics" in a Christian section, he's okay with the outcome: "We got the word 'Jewish' out. That's a major win."