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Beth Israel Congregation

   
 
 
 

Beth Israel Congregation Newsletter

September/October 2003
Elul 5763 Tishri/Heshvan 5764


President's Message
Cantor's Corner
Minyan Needed
Yizkor Booklet Reminder
Yahrzeit Dates Needed
Are You Missing Your Hebrew Name?
Donations for High Holiday Flowers Needed
New Member Service
High Holiday Youth Program
Hebrew School Enrollment
Onegs
Progressive Sukkot Celebration
The Newsletter
Next Newsletter Deadline
Dues are Due and Much Needed
Windows Available
Plots available!
Condolences
Mazel Tov!

President's Message

By the time you receive this newsletter, our summer vacation, with time filled with visitors and visits, will be over and we will be back into a more regular routine. As the days get shorter and the nights cooler we are very aware of the changing seasons. What a perfect time for the High Holidays, with such an obvious awareness of change in the air.

As the days before Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur draw near, I always feel blessed that we are given an opportunity to "take stock" of where we are and decide on those things we want to change. Personally, I value the instructions we are given to make peace with our friends and neighbors and apologize for any "wrongdoing" whether intentional or unintentional.

It is also a time to come together as a community and think about our focus and commitment. We have undergone quite a bit of change over the last few years and as Cantor Daniel Leeman leads us into the new year, things will again be a little different. It has been wonderful to have Shabbat services every Friday evening this summer. With the coming of September Daniel will be adding Saturday morning services to provide even more options for us. Since so many of us live far apart from each other, it is only through attending services that we often can connect. So many people comment on "missing some of that old sense of community" that we used to have. I think we can gain it back if many of us try to attend services or some of our functions. Better yet, volunteer to work on a committee. (OK, maybe I am being too optimistic). Plan on coming to our "welcome new members service " on Friday, September 19 to reconnect and make new contacts.

May this year bring you and your family only the best.

L'Shana Tova
Marilyn

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Cantor's Corner

I hope everyone has been enjoying a healthy, peaceful summer. I am looking forward to a fun, exciting year to share with you. The High Holidays are fast approaching. The month of Elul, the last month of the Jewish Year, is a time for introspection and forgiveness.

During my candidacy, I think I was viewed by many as one with good Jewish credentials and a proven track record, who wanted to be in Maine with a genuine affection for Beth Israel. But one great reservation was: "Is he too traditional?" Lately there are rumors that some characterize me as a cross between a fundamentalist bible thumper and a Halachic Neanderthal.

There is no question that I see the world through the prism of my orthodox experience. Part of me is galvanized by Mordecai Kaplan's idea that "tradition has a vote, but not a veto" in our community practice. I understand that I am now serving a congregation who proudly examines rabbinic law and even Torah law and asks: "Does this work for me?"

For me this is unfamiliar territory. My questions always have been: "How shall we understand this? Why is it written that way? How have the rabbis interpreted this? How can we integrate this into our lives today? What are its implications for our future right here, where we live and work?"

Our synagogue has a strong core value of inclusiveness that I respect and embrace as a wonderful and welcoming idea. I hope it will include a traditionalist like me who wants to look thoroughly at rabbinic opinions and understand them.

At Mt. Sinai, our response to receiving the Torah was "Na'aseh V'nishmah." Most translate this as: "We shall abide by the mitzvot and then we will understand." One interpretation of this verse is that only through study and experience of Torah do we develop understanding. This interpretation says: "Shabbat is not an idea. It is an experience. Our actions, not our belief systems, ultimately characterize our Jewish identity."

In the end I believe we share the idea that our purpose in reading the Torah and its commentaries is so that we can become better people and help each other. I am happy that you've chosen me to help facilitate this process, and I am happy to help teach your children about Jewish values and customs. Those of you who know me realize too, that I'm happy just to be in Maine. Please bear with me, as I am likely still to stomp around a bit with my strict ideas. Please help by communicating directly with me if you have questions or concerns. We will find our way, G-d willing, together.

I wish everyone an enjoyable end of summer and a healthy, peaceful and prosperous New Year.

Shabbat Shalom
Cantor Daniel Leeman

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Minyan Needed

On Tuesday, September 23, at 6:30 pm there will be Yahrzeit service for Judyth Gatchell's father, Sy Chamoff. Following the service, we will prepare the shul for the High Holidays, including the change-over of books. Please come and help us make sure we have a minyan for the service.

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Yizkor Booklet Reminder

Lola Lea has once again generously agreed to put together the Yizkor booklet for the High Holidays. If you wish your loved ones to be included in this booklet, please send your name, the English name of the deceased, and their relationship to you to Lola Lea.

Please note that donations for the Yizkor booklets should be mailed to Rea Turet.

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Yahrzeit Dates Needed

Please send the dates of any Yahrzeits that you may have to Marilyn Weinberg. These dates are for saying Yizkor on the anniversary of the passing. Note that the Yiskor book that Lola Lea is doing for the High Holidays is intended as a fund raiser and is separate from this. Those persons wishing their loved ones to be listed on Yom Kippur still need to contact Lola Lea.

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Are You Missing Your Hebrew Name?

For those who do not have a Hebrew name or do not know what it is, and would like to have one, please Cantor Daniel Leeman. He will be glad to discuss a naming ceremony that would occur on the holiday of Simchat Torah on Sunday, October 19.

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Donations for High Holiday Flowers Needed

The High Holidays are coming late this year. Erev Rosh Hashanah is on Friday, September 26. We are seeking donations for flowers for the two days of Rosh Hashanah services and for Yom Kippur. Please send all such donations to Treasurer Rea Turet.

Cantor Daniel Leeman

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New Member Service

We have a number of new and prospective members who have joined us throughout the year. We would like to welcome them at a special Shabbat Evening Service on Friday, September 19 at 7:00 pm. If you haven't attended a Friday evening service this season, please come to this one to welcome new and prospective members. We will have a large oneg with lots of goodies to follow the service.

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High Holiday Youth Program

We will hold a special youth service on the first day of Rosh Hashanah (September 27) and on Yom Kippur (October 6). The service will be geared for young people between the ages of 7 and 11 and will be held from 11:00 am until noon at the Minnie Brown Center. Young people attending will participate in reading and singing. Immediately following the service, anyone who isn't picked up by his or her parents should expect to return to the main synagogue building.

For those parents interested in childcare during the High Holiday services, please contact Campbell Clegg who will be arranging supervision.

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Hebrew School Enrollment

The first day of Hebrew School will be Wednesday, September 10. This will be a great time to meet new teachers and new classmates as well as our new Cantor, Daniel Leeman.

Packets of information including a calendar and registration forms mailed out on August 25th to all parents who have children previously enrolled in school or who have called Campbell Clegg. If you don't receive a packet, you may download a registration form and other pertinent information from our web site at www.bethisrael-maine.org.

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Onegs

It is that time of year to build the oneg calendar assignments for the upcoming year. Marilyn Weinberg will be hard at work making this year's list as equitable as possible. Please let her know if you have a preference of dates or companions. Because services will be held more frequently this year, most families will be asked to sponsor an oneg twice. Thanks goes out to all those people this year that made the effort to attend their designated service and provide us with a little "sweet" for Shabbat. It is a little amount of work that makes a huge difference to the cohesiveness of our congregation. If you have any suggestion on how to make this "mitzvah" work more efficiently, please let us know.

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Progressive Sukkot Celebration

We are planning to hold our Sukkah Hop on Monday (Columbus Day) October 13, from 3:00-5:30 pm. This has been a wonderful opportunity for members and friends of all ages to come together to "bless" each sukkah and enjoy good food and good company. If anyone would be willing to be one of the hosts for this event, please contact Lenore Friedland. More information will follow with a special mailing.

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The Newsletter

Now that the web site at www.bethisrael-maine.org is up and running we are able to post much of the newsletter on line. In order to save money this will be that last newsletter that will be mailed to our entire mailing list. All members will continue to receive the full newsletter through the mail. Nonmembers who would like to receive it can do so by making a donation of $18. All others can receive relevant information on the web. In any event, we encourage all recipients to mail in a donation to the synagogue just to keep us alive.

Marilyn Weinberg
President

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Next Newsletter Deadline

The deadline for copy for the next newsletter is October 15. This is five days earlier than usual because I am leaving for vacation shortly after Simchat Torah. Please send all copy for the next newsletter as early as you can.

Carolyn Turcio-Gilman
Newsletter Editor

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Dues are Due and Much Needed

As 5764 begins, we will be sending out letters about the dues. To be a member in good standing at Beth Israel Congregation, the dues are:
    Family: $500
    Family (both members over 65): $400
    Single: $375
    Single (over 65): $300

These dues are modest by comparison to other Congregations in Maine. We do not ask you to disclose your income, so that it is tithed. If you are having financial difficulties, we are sympathetic, and ask only $18 a month or $216 a year.

Like all other nonprofit, we too are undergoing some financial crunches. We have a new Hebrew School Building. While we did not ask money towards a building fund to buy the building, operating the Minnie Brown Center costs money for heating, electricity, cleaning and general maintenance. The Hebrew School is an essential part of Beth Israel Congregation, but the tuition covers only the Hebrew School teacher salaries. Tuition will be billed in October, after school has started.

So we are asking and setting up additional categories of membership:
    Benefactor: $1,000
    Donor: 750

At the beginning of September, we will be sending out a bill for membership. We hope to see you at High Holiday Services. Le shanah tovah!

Rea Turet
Treasurer

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Windows Available

There are still windows available: in memory, in honor, whatever. Only $1800!

Rea Turet

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Plots available!

$750 each at Beth Israel Congregation Cemetery in a beautiful tree lined spot in Bath. We just want you to buy the plots, not fill them.

Rea Turet

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Condolences

To the Singers and Greenblatts, and to our entire congregation on the passing of Sarah Greenblatt on Saturday evening, August 23, 2003. Donations in her memory can be made to Beth Israel Congregation.

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Mazel Tov!

To Dan and Judy Gatchell on becoming proud grandparents once again. Samuel Caleb was born to their daughter Kate and her husband Colin Foye on Tuesday afternoon, August 19th.

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