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Beth Israel Congregation

   
 
 
 

Beth Israel Congregation Newsletter

November/December 2005
Heshvan/Kislev/Tevet 5766


President's Message
Cantor's Corner
News from the Hebrew School
Midcoast Hunger Prevention Project
Beth Israel Coffee Club
Friday Night Services
Israeli Culture Night
Caravan for Katrina
A Letter from Libby Stern
Write to Robert Gersh
Donations
Social Action
Recipe Corner

NOTE: It is our policy that no personal telephone numbers or email addresses be contained in the web version of our newsletter. If you need to get in touch with one of our members please email us at info1@bethisrael-maine.org.


President's Message

by Marilyn Weinberg

As I greeted many of you during our recent High Holiday services I felt blessed to be part of our Beth Israel community. I had an opportunity to chat with many of the "old timers" and meet newer members. I talked to people who were just visiting and others who were checking us out. The good news is that our little shul is thriving.

As I look at all that we have accomplished and what we plan to continue, I feel nothing but optimism. The programs for our children are expanding. Our youngest ones, along with their parents, will now have an opportunity to participate in the synagogue with five "tot Shabbat" services scheduled this year. Many parents have already mentioned that they are looking forward to these events.

Our teens are also being offered some new opportunities for involvement. Kaela Frank and Maya Tepler have been organizing the Southern Maine Young Judea activities. You will read about their latest project in another article in this newsletter. Their energy and enthusiasm is exciting and they have a lot planned for the year. In addition, Rachel Connelly will be offering our teens a Jewish studies program that will be topical and of interest to our students.

Within the wider community many of you have been very active. Jill Standish and Ed Benedikt have been organizing a weekly pick up for the local food bank. So many of you have offered to participate. And the most recent Catholic/Jewish dialog was a real success. I was so pleased with how many of us turned out for all three sessions. Just last week I received a phone call from a member of the St. Charles Catholic Church asking if we wanted to work together in a community service project. They would like very much to keep our dialog alive.

And finally, the generosity of so many of you has made the capital campaign so successful. We are just $20,000 away from our $300,000 goal. The Minnie Brown Center was painted in early October and the building committee is already coming up with plans to renovate the function room and kitchen in the synagogue. It truly feels like a little miracle.


Cantor's Corner

by Daniel Leeman

Did you ever have a Bar or Bat Mitzvah?

At Beth Israel this year, all adult members who never had a Bar or Bat Mitzvah are invited to participate in a special Bar/Bat Mitzvah study program designed for adults and offered by Cantor Daniel and Barbara Leeman.

Now that our High Holidays are nearing the end, why not make a commitment to Jewish learning that will be a blessing to you and our community.

You will be introduced to the Hebrew language, learn the basic blessings and melodies, be called to the Torah for an aliyah, and learn to feel comfortable on the bima leading portions of the service.

Weekly studies will culminate in a group service and party in honor of the graduates in the spring.

You will receive a cassette tape, a checklist, and a study schedule to help you progress quickly. Weekly preparation will be minimal and the joy and satisfaction of being able to participate fully at services will be a thrill.

Everyone regardless of age, or Jewish background is encouraged to attend. The program will run from November until May with breaks for holidays.

For more information, please contact Cantor Daniel or Barbara.

An informational meeting will be held Tuesday, November 15 from 7:00-8:00 pm at the Minnie Brown Center.


News from the Hebrew School

by Barbara Leeman

Hebrew school began on Wednesday September 14th with much energy and excitement. Our schedule, as last year, includes time for Judaica: Bible, Jewish Holidays and Jewish History; and time for Hebrew language instruction: reading, writing and speaking. Before seperating into classes, our entire school assembles for a short prayer service. Each child becomes more familiar with the afternoon (mincha) service. We assemble again at the end of the school day, and gather upstairs for Jewish Song: Israeli Folk, prayer and holiday melodies.

One of the important components of any children's Jewish education is learning about the need for "tikkun olam" - repairing the world, social responsibility, and making the world a better place. At the Hebrew school, we believe the best way to do this is hands on projects, especially ones that the kids choose or are interested in. Chris Schoenberg initiated and took the leadership on this last year. This year we have a class parent for each class who will be working with the teachers, and parents of their class to come up with their own Mitzvah project. It will be a combination mitzvah project/class event.

Our many thanks go to those parents who have already been so involved and helpful with so many of the extras we normally take for granted. Susan Horowitz has been providing snacks weekly for the kids; Campbell Clegg's expertise in helping to build the school sukkah amongst so many other things; Ann Lewis who has taken on the role of treasurer; Linda Osmun who is recording the minutes of our parent meetings; and Anna Boll has already begun decorating our general use bulletin boards. These are just a few of the many extras we appreciate.

Those parents who stay during the prayer service, or come early to hear the singing leave with nachas and joy at the excitement with which the kids begin and end their lessons. Our teachers are clearly capturing their attention and we all are grateful.

In the coming weeks and months, each of the Hebrew school classes will have a chance to demonstrate their accomplishments by leading a Friday night Shabbat service. Our Vav class will lead on November 18th. This group includes Ethan Blatt, Hannah and Sam Leeman, Rebecca Lewis, Nina Maris, Sarah Neuren, Dylan Osmun and Rachel Schoenberg. On December 9th, the Heh class will lead our Shabbat service. They are Quin Boyd, William Connelly, Sarah Gallimore, Gina Maris and Zachary Miller. We are very excited about this. We encourage every member of our congregation and greater community to attend these special services. Your attendance and support will inspire our students to continue their effort towards a quality Jewish education. Please mark your calendars.

On January 1st (the last day of Hanukkah) our Hebrew school will join with the congregation to celebrate Chanukah together with a community wide Chanukah party. Please cross off the original scheduled date of December 18th. More information on that will be passed along as it becomes available.

For anyone who is interested, there is a parent group that meets at 4:30 pm during Hebrew school, the first Wednesday of each month. The next meetings will be November 2nd and December 7th. Please consider coming to join us. We look forward to a year of learning and fun.

School Break

It's hard to believe that we already have a school break, but between Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot we had a few weeks off from Wednesday classes. Our educational opportunities continued with all of our holiday celebrations.

High Holiday Youth Services

Besides the classroom instruction, Nathan Dinces led our Youth service on Rosh Hashana and on Yom Kippur. Both were well attended, and the kids jumped at the opportunity to participate. We thank him for his thoughtful and interesting leadership of services, and for engaging our young people to participate. Many thanks.

Special thanks also go to Lauri Gallimore who arranged childcare for all the little kids. This was a wonderful opportunity she gave to the parents, to freely enjoy the adult service without distraction.

Linda Osmun also deserves many thanks for baking delicious challah for the kids service. Lenore Friedland made sure that apples were available, Janice Povich provided all the honey, and Chris and Donnie Boyd, set up and cleaned up everything. Yashacoah (good job) to you all.

Sukkot and Simchat Torah

In honor of Sukkot, the children have had an opportunity to build and decorate a beautiful sukkah. We put our school sukkah together on Monday, October 17th, and still had a fair amount of participation considering it was a non-Hebrew school day. Special thanks to the Raker, Osmun, Gersh and Leeman families who made the decorations. The Blatt family added a nice harvest feel to it, with their homegrown gourds. Bill Horowitz (Susan Horowitz's dad) dug up the ground and put in stones at the back door to make sure everyone stayed on strong footing especially during the wet weather. Micki Gersh (Robert Gersh's mom) and Susan Horowitz helped to put up all the decorations on Friday. Our congregation enjoyed having the oneg there, a nice clear night, following Friday night services on October 21.

The following week, we had great participation for our Simchat Torah celebration. Everyone danced around the shul with the Torahs, singing and rejoicing. A pot-luck dinner followed, with good spirit.

A special thank you to Donnie and Chris Boyd who donated a caramel apple making kit, so that each of the kids could have a treat following the celebration.

New Tot Shabbat Services

This year we have scheduled five Tot Shabbat services throughout the year. We are very excited about keeping this as a regular option for families with very small kids. This service will be designed for kids from 1-8 years old. The first Tot Shabbat, October 21, was led by Monica Blatt. A limited number of prayers were introduced to the kids. Some lively singing, and a Shabbat story filled the air. We took a "field trip" down to the Minnie Brown center to celebrate in the sukkah. Hot cocoa and cider, along with many sukkah treats were served, as everyone enjoyed being together on a clear night. Monica even brought flashlights for all the little travelers. Many thanks to Monica for leading this during October. Our next Tot Shabbat is scheduled for December 2nd. Please let anyone who has small kids know of this special service.

Welcome to Our Newest Families

We welcome the Boll family to our school. After a few years break, with the large age gap between kids, we now welcome the Raker family back to our school as well. We welcome back our other returning families. We are thrilled to be back, learning and making new friends.

Welcome Back Teachers

We welcome back our wonderful teachers most of whom return from last year. Susan Horowitz joins us this year, taking over the Gan (Preschool) group, which meets twice a month. Tinker Hannaford goes back to Aleph (1st grade) class. Marina Singer and Alina Shumsky work with our Gimmel (3rd-4th grade) class. Alina Shumsky, Neal Urwitz and Cantor Daniel, are with the Heh/Vav (4th-6th grade) classes.

Post Bar/Bat Mitzvah/ Hebrew school graduates bring a wealth of knowledge. We are fortunate to have several talented student teachers. This is our 2nd and 3rd year for many of them. Alle Boyd, Alec Brodsky, Michael Brodsky, Noah Lumsden, Jane Martell and Alexis Osmun. All bring wonderful spirit and knowledge to our school. We are very fortunate.

Preschool Group

Susan Horowitz is teaching our Gan/Pre-K class, which meets twice each month. The kids enjoy stories, crafts, games and fun. They've already made their own apples/honey plates, Shabbat kits and more. They were also able to join in our Simchat Torah festivities. The next class will be on November 9th. This is new from last year, and has taken over the once-a-month Sunday group.


Midcoast Hunger Prevention Project

by Jill Paperno Standish

Every Sunday, people from the mid-coast Jewish community go to Hannaford Supermarket in Brunswick, pick-up every thing from day old bread to dented cans to meat and bring it across the street to the Midcoast Hunger Prevention Project. Instead of sleeping in and reading the Portland Press Herald, once every two months, they don hats to go in the back side of the grocery store and schlep bundles of food to where it's needed.

Incidentally, the people at the Midcoast Hunger Prevention Center then turn whatever they get into lunches for whoever is hungry. They also give food in boxes for people who meet their income guidelines. Not surprisingly, the numbers of people they feed have grown exponentially. It's amazing how many people really don't have enough to eat.

It may not seem like much to help out once every two months, but it is a commitment of what is usually relaxation time. I'm very grateful to those who have stepped up to do this pretty important work. without complaint (or none that I've heard of) Here are some of their names (not all) since families are often working together.

Joanne Rosenthal, and Josh Katz, Tinker and Reg Hannaford, Jeffrey Cohen, Lori Brodsky, Scott Davidson, Tom and Ellen Froncek, Judy and Danny Gatchell, and Larry Simon, Ed Benedikt and I have worked as coordinators.

If anyone would like to join in this dedicated group, please call me or Ed.


Beth Israel Coffee Club

by Donnie Boyd

All women of the congregation are welcome to attend. No RSVP necessary - just show up. The Beth Israel Coffee Club are having a great time meeting, having a cup of coffee and getting a bite to eat. Our next meetings are listed below:

Remember, no need to RSVP - just show up at 9:00 am.

  • November 11 at the Green Store (on Pleasant Street in Brunswick)
  • November 25 (no meeting because I'll assume everyone is out at after-Thanksgiving sales)
  • December 9 at Cafe Creme (on Front Street in Bath)
  • December 23 at Mae's Cafe (on Centre Street in 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.


Friday Night Services

by Lenore Friedland

The Chai Committee is arranging for a group of very interesting speakers. Leading off this years series is Evelyn Panish. The remainder will be announced later.

Evelyn Panish will be speaking to us on November 4th. In her own words: "I was born in Berlin, Germany in 1930. My family was unable to leave Germany until September 1940 when we escaped via the Trans-Siberian railway to Manchuria, and then by boat to Shanghai, China. I will talk about my childhood in Nazi Germany, our escape, the war years in Japanese occupied China, and our arrival in the US in 1947."

Upcoming services:

  • November 11 - Sheldon Tepler will be leading service at 7:00 pm
  • November 18 - Vav class will help with service at 7:00 pm
  • December 2 - Tot Shabbat service starts at 6:30 pm
  • December 9 - Heh class will help with service at 7:00 pm
  • December 16 - lay led service 7:00 pm

Israeli Culture Night

by Kaela Frank

On Saturday the 24th of September the Bogrim Young Judaea Club met for a fun evening of Israeli Culture. (Bogrim is the 8th-12th grade level of Young Judaea. Young Judaea is the Zionist Youth Movement of Hadassah, the Woman's Zionist Movement in America.) About twenty teens from Beth Israel and Beth El attended. We met at the Minnie Brown center for a potluck, some Israeli dancing, some Israeli music by Idan Raichel and Subliminal, and an activity about the Disengagement.

During the middle of dinner a riot of "blue" versus "orange" erupted. Young Judaeans had to answer tough questions to determine whether or not they were pro or anti disengagement. A brief history of the disengagement was presented and we discussed what it would be like to be an Israeli Solider that had to pull a fellow Jew out of his home.

We are planning to have our next Young Judaea event on Friday, November 18th at 3:00 pm at Beth El in Portland. Young Judaea's "Caravan 4 Katrina" will be coming to pick up relief supplies that Young Judaea has collected. The whole community is invited to help us box up items and show their support in sending the truck down to Jackson, Mississippi. We hope to see you all there! For more information about Young Judaea contact Kaela Frank.


Caravan for Katrina

by Kaela Frank

Young Judaea, the youth movement of Hadassah (Women's Zionist Organization of America) has committed to its part in aiding Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. Young Judaea has pledged to send two 24-foot trucks from two locations in the northeast to relief centers in the gulf coast region. The trucks will be filled with much needed supplies such as food, children's books and toys.

The members of Young Judaea see this project, known as Caravan for Katrina, as an inherent responsibility. "It was a terrible thing that happened to the people of Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississipi," says 17-year-old Elana Rothenberg, president of the New Jersey region of Young Judaea, "and I believe it is the duty of the youth of this country to rise and up and participate in the rebuilding of the gulf coast region."

Long time Young Judaea member, and Caravan for Katrina coordinator, Caroline Marks agrees. "When this tragedy struck, we as Young Judaea, a youth group built on the foundation of social action and community responsibility, felt an overwhelming desire to help those most affected by Hurricane Katrina." Both trucks will begin their journey down to the gulf coast on November 18th. One truck will be stopping in Brunswick, Maine on its way down to the greater Boston area. The truck will be stopping to pick up the relief supplies such as non-perishable foods, and new books, games, and toys collected by students and community members from the Mid-Coast and Greater Portland regions. Local Young Judaeans will be meeting the trucks with dozens of boxes filled with these donated items. It is the goal of the Maine club to raise over $400 and collect over 50 boxes filled with relief items.

If you are interested in donating supplies to Caravan for Katrina, please contact Kaela Frank for more information.


A Letter from Libby Stern (Brown University Student)

Dear Mr. Leeman,

Thanks again for taking the time to speak with me about Jewish life in Maine.

My name is Elizabeth (Libby, as most people know me) Stern. I was Bat Mitzvahed at Beth Israel, and am currently attending Brown University in Providence, RI. This summer I am interning at the Maine State Museum, working on a large permanent exhibit on domestic life in Maine from the 1790's to the 1970's.

One of the areas we are focusing on is showing how Maine is not as homogeneous as many people think it to be. So we are therefore looking at different ethnic, religious, and cultural groups in Maine. I have been doing some work on the Jewish section of the population. The exhibit will not be coming out for at least 2-3 years, so at the moment we are looking to find as much content material as possible and also artifacts themselves. With regard to cultural groups in Maine, particular attention is being placed on immigration to Maine and also the idea of holidays and celebrations. Any information and resources will be greatly appreciated regarding Jewish settlement in Maine. The museum is also looking for donations of artifacts in these two areas especially. Again, items relating to domestic life, objects that were either made in, brought to, or used in Maine. All artifacts are preserved and stored with care at all times. Donations can be written off on one's taxes. And furthermore, any donations would only enhance and enrich people's understanding of Maine's Jewish population. The emphasis is on objects used in the home. Some artifacts we are looking for in particular are items brought over from the "old country" (e.g., pots, trunks, torahs, documents, etc), or objects used for specific holidays or home usage, such as: seder plates; menorahs; kiddish cups; sets of dining ware to keep kosher; yarmulkes; washer for dishes; mezuzah; recipes; prayer shawls, tallit (tallis gadol or tallis katan); and small bibles.

I am only working at the Museum through the summer and will be back at Brown come fall. Feel free to email me or the head curator, Ed Churchill.


Write to Robert Gersh

by Susan Horowitz

As many of you know, Robert has recently arrived in Iraq. However, the previous email that I sent out with his mailing address is no longer correct. If you have mailed anything to him it will be forwarded, but please email info1@bethisrael-maine.org to get the correct address.

Remember, for packages, customs forms do need to be filled out, but you just pay regular US postage.

The kids and I have been able to talk to Robert almost every day, and it sounds like he is next door. Iraq is dusty and HOT (115!!!). Iraq is eight hours ahead of the East Coast, and if any of you really want to give him a call, let me know, and I'll send you his phone number. The number has a VA area code, so it's not charged as if it's an overseas call. A very small benefit.

Drop him a line, and remember to check his website, www.thewebmasterstouch.com/robert or e-mail him.


Donations

Rosh Hashanah Flowers
  • Lynn Frank in memory of her parents Sissie & Dean Milkes
  • Josh & Joanne Katz in memory of Josh's mother, Claire Weinberg
  • Daniel & Barb Leeman
  • Walter & Rita Rubin
  • Denise and Sheldon Teppler in memory of the victims of Hurricane Kristina and hope for peace in the Middle East
  • Marina Singer
Yom Kippur Flowers
  • Lola Lea
Donations from Members of Beth Israel Congregation
  • Irwin & Lori Brodsky
  • Rachel & Michael Connolly
  • Diane Moyer
  • Herb & Harriet Paris
  • Irl & Gail Rosner
Donations from Friends of Beth Israel Congregation
  • Betsy Atkins Bailey Island, ME
  • Alan Barron Newton Center, MA
  • Nettie Friedland Brunswick, ME
  • Robt & Barbara Lenox Califon, NJ
  • Marjory L. Pellegrino Aventura, FL
  • Elizabeth Schnur Brooklyn, NY
  • Albert & Judith Zabin Lexington, MA
  • Anonymous
In Memorium
  • Campbell & Jennie Clegg
  • Norma Dreyfus, in memory of her father, Morris Goldberg
  • Jay & Lenore Friedland, in memory of her father, Israel Itzkowitz
  • Robert Greenblatt, in memory of his parents, Abraham & Sarah Greenblatt
  • Lola Lea
  • Daniel & Barbara Leeman in memory of her father, Albert Goldenstein
  • Dan & Susan Levey, in memory of his parents, Shirley and Leo Levey
  • Rita Gediman Nevins
  • Rea Turet & Sandor M. Polster
  • Walter & Rita Rubin, in memory of his mother, Rose Rubin, and Sol and Kerwin Fingerhut
  • Linda Silberstein & Larry Loeb
  • Sandy Polster & Rea Turet, in memory of father, Martin Polster, and step-mother, Lillian Turet
  • Marina Singer, in memory of her mother, Henriette Shapiro
  • Jill Standish, in memory of her mother, Estelle Paperno
  • Fred and Marilyn Weinberg

Social Action

by Ed Benedikt

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 acknowledgement 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 Marilyn Weinberg for this great holiday recipe.

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

Here is one of Marilyn's favorite Chanukah recipes.

Sufganiyot
(Makes about 30)

  • 3/4 c. orange juice
  • 3 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/4 1b. margarine
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 4 T. sugar
  • 1 T. oiI for bowl
  • 2 pkgs. dry yeast
  • oil for frying

Use of a food processor makes this easy.

In a microwave, combine orange juice, margarine and sugar. Heat until margarine melts. Cool to lukewarm and add yeast.

Place in food processor. Add 2 eggs and do a quick mix. Add flour (1 cup at a time) and mix. You might need to add a little more flour to make the dough workable. Knead for 1 minute in food processor.

Place dough In oiled bowl, cover and let rise 1/2 to 1 hour until double.

Punch down and shape into rings, braids and small balls. Cover and let rise for 15 to 20 minutes.

Fry in hot oil. When done, drain and roll in powdered sugar.