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Beth Israel Congregation

   
 
 
 

Beth Israel Congregation Newsletter

September/October 2005
Av/Elul/Tishri 5765/5766


President's Message
High Holiday Change Over
High Holiday Flower Contributions
Hebrew School Letter to Parents
Women's Group Formed at Beth Israel
Social Action Committee Needs Assistance
Tot Shabbat
Kindergarten/Preschool Classes
Last Hebrew School Year in Pictures
Yiskor Book Reminder
Annual Pot Luck Progressive Sukkot Event
Cantor's Corner
Membership and Information
Robert Gersh in Iraq
New Oneg List
Capital Campaign Update
Synagogue Gift Shop
Social Action Seeking Volunteers
Recipe Corner
Donations and New Members

President's Message

by Marilyn Weinberg

By the time you receive this newsletter, our summer, filled with visitors and travels will be ending 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 to apologize for any "wrongdoing," whether intentional or unintentional. As Jews we do not retreat into cloistered seclusion for this introspection. On the contrary, we celebrate Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in public, as a community. This is an opportunity to look not just at ourselves, but also at our community and think about our focus, direction and commitment.

We have much to be thankful for this year. Our capital campaign has been very successful primarily because of the overwhelming generosity of some of our members. The bequest from Sadie Davis and the challenge grant from Robert Smith feels like another little miracle has come our way. If you haven't had an opportunity to contribute, it is not too late to be part of this major undertaking. The building committee is already hard at work with plans to update and renovate our lovely little synagogue.

Our Chai committee has also been busy making plans for the upcoming year. Our speaker series will resume after the holidays and the Hebrew school classes will continue to lead services once a month. We plan to add a "tot Shabbat" for families with young children. Make a New Year's resolution to attend some services this year.

So many of you have contributed in some form to our synagogue during the past year. The beauty of a small community is that you have an opportunity to make a real difference. Each one of you is important to the survival of our synagogue. May this year bring you and your family only the best.

L'Shana Tova

High Holiday Change Over

by Lenore Friedland

On Sunday, October 2 at 10:00 am we will be changing over the books and readying the synagogue for the High Holidays. If you could possibly help, please come. The more hands we have, the easier and faster it will be.


High Holiday Flower Contributions

If you would like to contribute toward the flowers for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, please contact Marina Singer.


Hebrew School Letter to Parents

by Cantor Daniel J. Leeman

I hope you are enjoying your summer break. Our first day of school will be Sept 14th. I look forward to working with you this year to make a wonderful Jewish experience for your whole family. We will have a special parents meeting at 4pm on Sept 14th to complete all forms and review plans for the year.

Our continued theme for this year will be Prayer through song. Learning Hebrew language through Prayer has been a long-standing successful method of Hebrew language instruction. The music of the service, has always been a source of joy and inspiration to beautify and amplify our Jewish experiences. The weekly sabbath and holiday melodies will be introduced and taught at the end of our Wednesday classes. Their selection will be based on the holiday cycle and the most widely known sabbath and holiday tunes. The purpose is for students to learn to be able to fully enjoy and participate in all aspects of Jewish observance.

We aim to provide a loving, safe learning environment that will make your child enjoy coming to Hebrew school and be proud to be Jewish. Our desire is to instill a love of G-d, of the Torah, of the Jewish people and of the land of Israel.

The basic curriculum will be much as previous years and will focus on Hebrew language through Prayer, Bible, Holidays, History and Life Cycle. Each grade will be assigned a Shabbat service during the course of the year and every student will have an opportunity to share some of the prayer skills they've learned in class at that Friday evening service. We will work with class parents to organize a Shabbat dinner for each class at the synagogue in honor of their special Shabbat service.v

We are fortunate to have capable and thoughtful teachers guiding you and your child in your Jewish learning. Wednesday afternoon classes have been scheduled a bit longer to extend from 3:45-6:00 pm. Please respect the fact that this is a very limited time for study and should not be shortened by late arrivals or early departures for sports schedules or other activities.v

We are fortunate to have a wonderful building. We thank everyone who has helped to care for our facility. Please volunteer to help to care for it, under the able leadership of our board and building chair, and guide your children about the proper care and maintenance of our facility.

If you have any questions please don't hesitate to call me. Our website, put together by Fred Weinberg, has much current information, including a curriculum guide, program dates, and much more. That website is www.bethisrael-maine.org. Our Hebrew school committee chair is Campbell Clegg. Please feel free to also call him with any comments or questions.

Tuition is $375 per child. The third child is $150. All families are required to have membership at Beth Israel synagogue. Please send checks to Rea Turet, our treasurer. If you will be paying in installments, please reply to that effect. Please call Rea at with any questions regarding financial aid.

Snow policy: if Brunswick public schools are cancelled or let out early due to weather, Hebrew school is cancelled. If school is not cancelled, but Hebrew school is, you will be notified most likely by a class parent.

We look forward to seeing you on our first day of Hebrew School, Wednesday, Sept. 14 at 3:45 pm.


Women's Group Formed at Beth Israel

by Donnie Boyd

During the summer, some of the women of Beth Israel congregation have been meeting on Fridays to chat, have a cup of coffee and have a nosh. Because of its success, we are now establishing a Beth Israel Coffee Club. The club will meet every other Friday at 9:00 am (locations to vary). All women of the congregation are welcome to attend; no RSVP necessary - just show up. Our next meetings:

September 2 Wild Oats Bakery (Brunswick)
September 16 Southgate Restaurant (Bath)
September 30 Mae's Cafe (Bath)
October 14 Fairgrounds Cafe (Topsham Fair Mall)
October 28 Starlight Cafe (Bath)

If you have any questions, feel free to call Donnie Boyd, Barbara Leeman or drop an e-mail to Marilyn Weinberg. Hope to see you soon.


Social Action Committee Needs Assistance

by Joanne Rosenthal

Meals are needed for a member of our community. Please contact Joanne Rosenthal if you are able to help. Thank you.

The Sunday morning food project with the Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program is underway. More volunteers are needed for a once a month commitment. Please contact Jill Standish to learn more.


Tot Shabbat

Tot Shabbat is coming to Beth Israel. On Friday, October 21, at 6:30 pm we will hold our first family Shabbat service. This will be a special program geared for families with young children, although all ages are welcome to attend. We will learn some prayers, sing songs and listen to a story. For this October service we will have our "oneg" in the synagogue's sukkah. It should be a lot of fun. This program will take the place of our regular Friday night service. Our next scheduled Tot Shabbat service will be December 2.


Kindergarten/Preschool Classes

Our Kindergarten/Preschool class (Gan) will begin September 14 at 4:00 pm. Susan Horowitz will be teaching this program and is looking forward to getting started. This is a wonderful opportunity for any families with younger children to have time for Jewish learning through crafts, songs, cooking, stories and more. The class will be meeting twice a month this year on Wednesday afternoons. Tuition will be $200 for the year.

If you are interested in enrolling your child, please call Susan Horowitz or Barbara Leeman so that we can get an accurate count of class size.


Last Hebrew School Year in Pictures

Daniel and Barbara Leeman have compiled pictures from many of our activities throughout the year, and we thought you may all enjoy seeing our Beth Israel Hebrew school in action. There are close to 200 photos, so get ready for about 10 minutes of entertainment. Feel free to send the link to anyone who you feel may be interested in sending their children to our school, or anyone who may be interested for other reasons.

We take pride and joy in seeing our students in their many activities. We delight in seeing them learn and develop as all our teachers aspire to nurture their young Jewish souls. We want you to share in the vitality and varied activities that are taking place at our Hebrew school. Enjoy!

To view the slide show go to our web site and click on the Hebrew School picture.


Yiskor Book Reminder

Lola Lea will be putting together the Yiskor Book for us again this year. If you have a loved one you'd like remembered, please send the name and relationship to you to Lola by September 26.


Annual Pot Luck Progressive Sukkot Event

On Sunday, October 23, we will celebrate Sukkot with our Annual Pot Luck Progressive Sukkot event. This year's program will begin at noontime. We will share food and bless three different sukkahs. You will be receiving a special flyer in the mail with the details. We have something out of the ordinary in store for you.


Cantor's Corner

By Daniel Leeman

Over the past couple of years I've gotten to know Rev. Steve Concannon, a Catholic priest from it. Charles church in Brunswick. He's been an enthusiastic participant at a number of our "Brunswick Area Interfaith Council" meetings. Rev. Steve approached me recently about creating a dialogue in our community between Catholics and Jews.

As a result of his initiative, St. Charles of Brunswick and Beth Israel of Bath will be hosting two thinkers from the Christian-Jewish Learning Center at Boston College to come to our area and facilitate our community's dialogue.

Over the past couple of years the National Council of Synagogues has felt a keen need to respond to the changes in the core values of the Catholic church as it refers to its relations with the Jewish people. This initiative is part of an ongoing effort by the Catholic Church to change its view of Judaism and right some of the wrongs of history. Catholic leadership made significant statements regarding Jews on a number of levels. These changes include: recognizing the role of the Church in the persecution of Jews, rejecting any ancient claims of Decide and accepting the Jewish Covenant with G-d. Catholics now say that they view Judaism differently. They now refer to the Old Testament as the First Testament so to respect the fact that Judaism is not some antiquated history of Christianity, but a living, breathing, people, alive and practicing actively today. The Catholic Church is making a concerted effort to stop the teachings of ‘contempt' for Jews. This teaching, which effectively fostered a desire to place Jews at the margins of society, is no longer part of the Vatican's official policy. They appear to want to be sincere and active partners with us in community efforts.

I feel we are compelled to respond to these new and powerful changes in Catholic ideology towards Judaism, and consider your attendance at this meeting part of a new obligation to change the ‘arms-length', post WWII rabbinate's traditional response towards Christian-Jewish dialogue.

Because we expect this series of three meetings to be a dialogue of some substance, I would encourage those of you who are interested in this process to contact me to say you would like to volunteer to participate. I would like to have a meeting at the synagogue so we can prepare ourselves in an orderly fashion to engage our Catholic neighbors appropriately. I would like to briefly present the subject categories, and topics to be discussed. In this way, no one will be surprised by any topics, and our Jewish participants will be well enough informed to be comfortable with the candid conversations. Please look up the Jewish-Christian Learning Center at Boston College on the internet for more information about the overall format we will be using.

http://www.bc.edu/research/cjl/


Membership and Information

by Rea Turet, Treasurer

In early September, you will be getting your Beth Israel Congregation bill. Because many of you are contributing to the capital campaign, the Synagogue Board has agreed to keep the dues at the current level. Beth Israel Congregation still offers the most reasonable membership dues in the state of Maine. The dues are as follows:

Benefactor $1,000
Donor $750
Family membership $550
Couples over 65 $440
Single Member $400
Single member over 65 $330

A small Hebrew School tuition increase of $25 was approved at the annual meeting. The new tuition is now $375. This is the first Hebrew School tuition increase in four years. It was deemed necessary due to soaring fuel costs and teacher salary increases.

As always, we offer installment payments. If there is a financial problem, please let me know. And if you pay in advance of your bill, you won't receive one!

Any questions or problems, e-mail me. Or call. Thank you!


Robert Gersh in Iraq

Please write to him and let him know we are thinking about him.

Robert Gersh is being stationed in Iraq for the next six months. Before he left he gave us his address. If you would like to write to him you can request it from info1@bethisrael-maine.org.

He also has a web site. The address is http://www.thewebmasterstouch.com/robert/index.htm

After qualifying with a pistol, they "all pitched in to clean up the brass shell casings, which the military recycles."

Here's an additional note from his wife, Susan Horowitz that she sent on August 14, 2005:

We said goodbye to Robert this morning, putting him on a plane headed for Ft. Bliss, Texas. He will be there for about two weeks before heading to Iraq at the beginning of September for six months.

A friend will be setting up a website where you can all go to check in on how and what he's doing, and I'll send the address out just as soon as we've actually posted something!

If you mail a package, you DO have to fill out a customs form, but you DO NOT have to pay extra postage.


New Oneg List

Marilyn, our President will be making up the new "oneg" list for the upcoming year in just a few weeks. She is going to assign just one family per week so that nobody will have to do it twice. If you have any dates you prefer, please let her know as soon as possible.


Capital Campaign Update

by Jeff Cohen, Chair, Capital Campaign

As many of you know, we are in the midst of an ambitious capital campaign for Beth Israel Congregation. We announced the campaign at last year's High Holidays, setting a goal of $250,000. We earmarked about $150,000 of this amount for much needed and long-delayed capital improvements at the synagogue and the Minnie Brown Center, with the balance to be used to boost our existing endowment.

Thanks to the remarkable generosity of many members—several of whom have pledged up to $10,000 each toward the campaign—as well as a major gift from a Boston benefactor, Robert Smith (who has ties to the Bath Jewish community), I am pleased to report that we have now exceeded the $250,000 goal in pledges to the campaign.

Although we are delighted to have reached our goal ahead of schedule, there are still many members of the Beth Israel community who have yet to be solicited for the campaign. We would like everyone to have the opportunity to participate in this effort. As a result, the Campaign Committee has modified the fund-raising goal: we are now committed to raising an additional $50,000, which will be used to create a scholarship fund for the Beth Israel Hebrew School. Through this fund, all Jewish children in our community will have the chance to attend our Hebrew School, regardless of their families' ability to pay tuition. We are very excited about creating this opportunity for the families we serve.

To meet our new goal, we need your help. We are asking you to pledge as generously as possible to make the scholarship fund a reality. We understand that there are many worthwhile charitable organizations seeking your support. But Beth Israel Congregation has been an invaluable resource to the mid-coast Jewish community since the 1920's. And what better way to keep it viable for generations to come, than to help fund a program that will allow all of our children to receive a meaningful Jewish education? We are asking you to make a gift to Beth Israel Congregation commensurate with the importance of this goal.

Please send your pledge contribution to Jeff Cohen. Please note that this is a three-year campaign, so you may spread your payments out equally over that period. All we ask is that you pledge as much as you can, and that you make your first payment by the end of this calendar year. This will allow us to fulfill our campaign goals on schedule.

On behalf of the entire Congregation, I thank you for your support. If you have any questions about the campaign, please feel free to call me or our President, Marilyn Weinberg. With your help, Beth Israel will remain a vital source of Jewish life and community in mid-coast Maine.


Synagogue Gift Shop

Going to a wedding or Bar Mitzvah and need a gift? As many of you know, Marina Singer is in charge of our synagogue gift shop. She can order many things for you through her catalogs. The synagogue makes a profit and you are often charged less than you would be if you bought it yourself.

She has a new source and the price is right:

http://jewishsource.com/

The name of the catalog is: The Source for Everything Jewish.

However, if you order through the synagogue you will get a better price.

Just get in touch with Marina and she will let you know how to proceed. Profits go to the synagogue instead of the company (well they probably make a little too.


Social Action Seeking Volunteers

For the last eighteen months, the Mid-Coast Collaborative for Access to Transportation (A Brunswick-Topsham Community Action Group) has been looking at the issues related to transportation in the Brunswick and Topsham area. Particularly we have been focusing on the needs of individuals who have difficulty or inability to drive themselves, for whatever reason. We are now in a position where we know much more than we did at the outset about the issues and have proposed some possible solutions that includes partnerships with non-profit and religious groups.

There is a widespread acknowledgment that the lack of public transportation has effects that are deeply felt throughout our communities. We heard from people who felt isolated and unable to participate in the activities that make for a meaningful life because they could not afford a ride.

One solution that has been suggested would address the off hour, weekend and more spontaneous needs that have been repeatedly raised by many residents. This solution could take a number of forms, but it would develop a volunteer network, and the capacity to link people needing rides with those providing them. The Town of Brunswick, the Maine DOT, Coastal Transport , many community groups and the Brunswick Area Interfaith Council ( on which I represent Beth Israel) has been wonderfully supportive throughout, and we believe a successful partnership using volunteers can happen here.

Are any members of our congregation from Brunswick or Topsham willing to provide rides to those less fortunate?


Recipe Corner

Thanks to Denise Tepler for these wonderful recipes.

Please send us your favorite recipes so that we can share them with our members.

These are two of Denise's Israeli-style recipes:

ISRAELI SALAD

Ingredients:

  • 2 cucumbers
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes
  • 1 large green bell pepper
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 2 tsp. crumbled dried mint leaves
  • Juice of one or two lemons (to taste)
  • 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Dice all veggies into as small pieces as you have patience for (Sheldon's aunt says mine are too big because I am lazy.)
  • Crumble dried mint over salad.
  • Dress with lemon juice and olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss.

BABA GANOUSH

Ingredients:

  • 2 large purple eggplants
  • 3 heaping tablespoons tahini
  • 3-4 cloves of raw garlic
  • Juice of two lemons
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 pinches cumin powder

Directions:

  • Prick eggplants in several places with fork.
  • Broil in oven or, even better, on outdoor grill (tastes better and doesn't heat up the house) until exterior is somewhat blackened and flesh is very soft.
  • Cool eggplants until you can peel them and place the cooked de-skinned eggplant in a food processor.
  • Add other ingredients and process until fairly smooth.
  • Serve with pita toasts and Israeli salad.

Donations and New Members

We welcome as new members, Noah Feldman and Jeannie Suk; and Mort and Evelyn Panish.

We'd like to thank the following people who contributed to Beth Israel Congregation

  • Rabbi Joel & Aviva Schwab of Middletown, NY, in memory of his father
  • Roy & Penny Feldman of New York City, in honor of their grandson
  • Roberta and Eugene Hosansky of Briarwood, N.Y. in honor of Robert Gersh, now serving in Iraq
  • Janice Povich in memory of Harry Goldstein, father
  • Janice Povich in memory of Don Povich, husband
  • Dr. Daniel Morgenstern in memory of his father, Frederick Morgenstern
  • Dan and Susan Levey in memory of Milton Applebum, father
  • Dan and Susan Levey in memory of Shirley and Leo Levey
  • Fred and Marilyn Weinberg in memory of Lucille Hershenhart
  • Jay and Lenore Friedland, in memory of Lucille Hershenhart
  • Jay and Lenore Friedland, in memory of Edward Friedland, father
  • Walter and Rita Rubin, in memory of Rose Rubin, mother
  • Marilyn and Fred Weinberg in memory of Max Isacoff, father
  • Marilyn and Fred Weinberg in honor of Aaron Weinberg and Emilie Wiesner who received their PhD's
  • Marina Singer, in memory of Henriette Shapiro, mother
  • Norma Dreyfus, in memory of Dr. Morris Goldberg
  • Rea Turet and Sandy Polster in memory of Lillian Tauber Turet, step-mother and Frances Turet, aunt
  • Jay and Joan Isenberg