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Beth Israel Congregation

   
 
 
 

Beth Israel Congregation Newsletter

March/April 2006
Adar/Nisan/Iyar 5766


President's Message
Jewish Medical Ethics
News from the Hebrew School
Social Action Committee
Synagogue Auction
Synagogue Choir
Dump and Run
The Tedford Shelter
Help with Rides
Kayla Frank wins JCA Scholarship
Young Judaea - An Overview
Young Judaea New Years Gathering
Donations

NOTE: It is our policy that no personal telephone numbers, email addresses or mailing 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

So many wonderful things have been going on at Beth Israel. Our community Shabbat dinner and our wonderful speakers make Friday nights special. Our Hebrew school Tu B'Shevat seder was inspiring for all involved and our childrens' led services have been fun. So much more is coming up.

During these next two months we will be celebrating Purim and Passover. These two holidays, although ancient in origin, are relevant to modern day issues affecting all of us. Purim is our joyous way to celebrate our victory over oppression and have a celebration of freedom. Help us to drown out the voices of tyranny at the Megilla reading and join in the fun at the carnival. Passover takes on a more serious note. Egypt is where much of the story takes place. Our Passover Haggadah uses the word "mitzrayam" (Hebrew word used for Egypt) and defines it as "the narrow place - the place that squeezes the life out of a human soul and body." So many people in the world are still living in a "mitzrayam" and it's important each year to celebrate our search for freedom and to never forget all those whose lives and minds are ruled by fear. Please come to our community seder on the second night of Passover, to share this tradition of remembrance and hope together.

There is another special event you do not want to miss. Dr. Irwin Brodsky has put together our first ever forum on Jewish medical ethics. If you find our holidays and traditions too ancient to feel any significance in your life, this conference will help you discover how our teachings and traditions connect to significant choices we make on a regular basis. We are all faced with ethical dilemmas, and for physicians these decisions can be of life and death proportions. This event will provide thought provoking and riveting presentations. I hope you will come.

And finally, our gala spring auction will provide another opportunity to get together in an informal way. Start planning what you would like to donate. Bring your checkbook and invite your friends to our grand synagogue auction on April 29th. Raising money for the synagogue and having fun is a win-win proposition.


Maine Community Conference on Jewish Medical Ethics

by Irwin Brodsky

On Sunday, March 26th, 2006, Jewish religious leaders and medical experts from several Maine communities will gather to discuss and debate the application of Jewish principle to medical ethical questions. Audience participation is expected and encouraged. The conference will take place at the Beth Israel Congregation Education Center at 906 Washington Street in Bath, Maine.

The conference will be moderated by Irwin Brodsky, MD, MPH, from the Maine Center for Diabetes at Maine Medical Center in Portland, Maine. Medical cases will be presented by Richard Kahn, MD (Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Central Maine Medical Center and St. Mary's Regional Medical Center, Lewiston, Maine), Jerrold Olshan, MD (Pediatric Endocrinology, Maine Medical Center, Portland, Maine), and James Raker, MD (Internal Medicine, Mid-Coast Hospital, Brunswick, Maine).

Jewish religious leaders discussing the cases will be Rabbi Carolyn Braun of Temple Beth-El in Portland, Maine, and Cantor Daniel Leeman of Beth Israel Congregation, Bath, Maine. Their evaluation of the cases and application of Jewish scholarship will be integrated with audience comments and questions.

The cases to be discussed include several vexing medical and social matters, including dementia, end-of-life decisions, treatment of short-stature children, depression, assisted suicide, and family relationships during illness. Refreshments will be served when the doors open at 9:30 am. The conference will begin precisely at 10:00 am and will end at 11:30 am. All are welcome free of charge.

This is a very important event for Beth Israel. It will be advertised in the Voice and on the JCA web site. Please try to attend this conference.


News from the Hebrew School

by Barbara Leeman

Apple trees planted in January

Despite the cold temperatures that January brought, we managed to hold a Tu B'Shvat seder during Hebrew school. The kids tried many fruits all representing different types of personalities. Some with hard skins and some with hard pits. Ask them to describe this for you. They mixed juices representing the different seasons. All classes participated and each of the students planted their own apple tree following the seder. Many parents helped to make this a success. Our special thanks go to Deb Hagler who shopped for all the supplies we needed, Campbell Clegg and Ann Lewis who helped to set everything up with Deb, Susan Horowitz who was especially helpful to the kids planting the trees and to Anna Boll who cleaned up almost everything. Many thanks to all our teachers and all others who chipped in. What a great team!

Each class has had a potluck dinner prior to the service. We have our traditional washing before the meal, our blessings over the food, and lots of zmirot (Shabbat melodies) following the meal. 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. Our next class Shabbat will be the Aleph class (1st graders) on March 24, 2006.

Class Shabbats

On January 13 the Heh class did a fantastic job leading our service. This service was led by Quin Boyd, William Connelly, Lucy Daly, Sarah Gallimore and Gina Maris. Zachary Miller is also part of this class. Each year, these students are eager to take on more parts, and lead with more confidence. In February, with very little time to prepare, we were also able to bring in Shabbat with the Gimmel class. Shira Gersh, Julian Ireland, Jacob Schoenberg, Maisie Silverman, and Sophie Sreden led our service in a most wonderful way. Jacob Hagler, Elliott Pressman, and Myles Silverman are also members of this class. Mazel Tov to all!

Some News from Israel

We were fortunate to have Drs. Abraham and Adaia Shumsky join us for one week during January to talk about life in Israel. It is always a treat to hear from Alina's wonderful parents, while they share their knowledge with our students. The Shumsky's have authored many Hebrew and English books.

Tot Shabbat During January Well Attended

Our January Tot Shabbat was led mostly by Rachel Schoenberg. What a nice treat for the little ones to have someone closer in age leading them so nicely. Special thanks to Rachel and Chris Schoenberg for helping to make this special for our youngest shul goers. Our next Tot Shabbat is scheduled for March 3 at 6:30 pm. They last just over one-half hour and usually have a Shabbat story for the kids.

Jewish Youth Magazine

Thanks to the Boyd family, BabaGaNews has continued to be a favorite amongst the kids. They have wonderful magazines each month designed for the grade 3-7 age group, and a website (www.BabaGaNews.com) that all ages can enjoy. If you are interested in seeing the BabaGaNews publications, and did not receive them through the school, please call the office and we will try to get you a copy.

What's in Store for March

The Purim carnival, always a favorite event amongst the kids, is scheduled for March 19. We will be making Hamantashen on March 15 at Hebrew school, and decorating Shalach Manot bags for the kids to bring home and fill. They will bring back the bag to exchange with other students on Sunday during the carnival. The Megillah reading begins at 10:00 am (at the synagogue). Bring your noisemakers! We will parade down in costume to the Minnie Brown center for the carnival (approximately 11:15-1:15 pm).

With the Purim carnival fast approaching, we could definitely use some help. Are there any members that would like to volunteer? Your help would be greatly appreciated. Areas with which we need help are:

  • set-up, run booths
  • assist with pizza
  • balloon making for the kids
  • face painting and clean up

Please contact Lauri Gallimore if you can help. Also, Lauri suggests that we could try something different this year to fulfill the mitzvah of giving. She will be collecting donations the day of the Purim carnival and making up a couple of baskets to donate to a family at The Tedford Shelter.

Some contribution ideas would be:

  • non-perishable food,
  • shampoo and other toiletries,
  • pre-paid phone cards,
  • books, cards, etc

Thanks and hope to hear from some of you soon.

Passover Model Seder

Again we will have a school model seder. This year our seder will be a bit early due to April vacation. The Model seder will be on April 5, during Hebrew school (4:00-6:00 pm). For those younger kids not yet coming each week, please make time and feel free to join us.

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. Our next meeting will be March 1 and then again on March 29 so as not to conflict with the Passover seder. Purim and Passover will be on the agenda. Please join us.


Social Action Committee Needs Assistance

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.


We Are Having An Auction

by Marilyn Weinberg

Please save April 29 on your calendar for our fantastic upcoming auction. If you came to our auction last year, you know how much fun they can be. We hope this one will be even better. We need to raise money to help pay the oil bill and other expenses that we are challenged to meet. Start thinking now about what you might be able to donate. It can be a service you can offer, some artwork or maybe a vacation weekend at your family retreat. You will be hearing from our committee soon.


Synagogue Choir

by Evelyn Panish

Do you like to sing? Do you enjoy the songs and chants that we sing during our Shabbat services? Evelyn Panish was a member of the choir of her previous synagogue and would like to see one launched at Beth Israel. Cantor Dan is willing to help and work with the group. We just need singers. You do not need to be able to read Hebrew. If you would like to be part of this new group, please contact Evelyn Panish.


Call for Volunteers - Dump and Run

by Barbara Leeman

It's that time of year again - time to start planning for Bowdoin's Dump and Run 2006 - the big end of the year student move-out program. As students are clearing out their dorm rooms, and returning home for the summer, they find there are many items they don't need or want. These items get donated by the students, and then collected, sorted and sold by volunteers (us), and then the whole community benefits. Depending on how many volunteer hours we are able to provide, will determine how big a percentage of the profits come back to Beth Israel. For those of you who have participated before, you know it is a lot of work, but a great way to raise money for our congregation while also keeping a lot of usable goods out of the Brunswick landfill. It also provides great deals for people in the community - it's really a win-win situation.

The "call for volunteers" letter from Bowdoin will go out in early March and shifts will begin to fill up very fast. It is best to have a list ready to submit. There will be 3.5 hour shifts, similar to last year: 9:00 am-12:30 pm and 1:30-5:00 pm, starting on May 18, and going through June 9. The actual day of the sale is Saturday, June 10. As volunteers, you are invited to attend the pre-sale on Friday, June 9. In an effort to have many Beth Israel people there on the same day, I propose filling June 1, 2, 4, and 5 first if you are available for one of the shifts on one of those days. If not, please pick any other time, and let me know as soon as possible.

Many people were able to give of their time generously last year. We earned over $1000 for Beth Israel. This was really wonderful, since everyone put in only a few hours each. Some had so much fun, they took more than one shift. I hope many will consider helping this year. Maybe we can even double our earnings.

Please email me as soon as you know that you can make a commitment to help.


The Tedford Shelter: Homelessness to Hope

by Ed & Ruth Benedikt

The Tedford Shelter "Homelessness to Hope" initiative represents a giant step forward from the traditional shelter programs which provide temporary lodgings for the homeless. Anyone working in this field quickly learns that a significant portion of the homeless population cycles in and out of such last-hope facilities, as their fragile grip on housing repeatedly falls before the same personal problems and inadequacies. This new project in the Bath-Brunswick area is designed to combine rooms or apartments with centrally based counseling and referral services that help address problems of substance abuse, mental illness, lack of job skills and behaviors, illiteracy, etc.

It is a basic tenet of tzedakah that the highest and noblest form of charity is to enable people to be self-sufficient. For that reason, although many members of Congregation Beth Israel have already been involved in the Tedford Shelter's ambitious project to combat homelessness, we think it would be helpful and appropriate for the Beth Israel Congregation to give a warm endorsement of this project.

Since many of our members live in the communities in which these new units will be built, this could be, in part, a gesture of welcome. Every one of us must make our own choices on the amount and the recipients of our personal charitable contributions, but we can all be a part of endorsing this remarkable project and of expressing our organizational approval and support.

Let's get involved. Contact Ed or Ruth to find out how.


Seeking Volunteers to Help with Rides for the Less Fortunate

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?


Kayla Frank wins JCA Scholarship

We are all very happy to announce that Kayla was awarded a JCA scholarship. This grant is to help defray some costs for a year in Israel that is sponsored by Young Judaea.


Young Judaea - An Overview
The Youth Zionist Movement of America

by Kaela Frank

Young Judaea is the Youth Zionist Movement in America. We are the daughter movement of Hadassah. Young Judaea is based on Five Pillars: Zionism, Jewish Identity, Pluralism, Social Action, Peer Leadership. We function on the levels of Club, Convention, Summer Camp, Israel Programs (in the summer and study abroad). Young Judaea is divided into three age groups: Ofarim (3-5th grade), Tsofarim (6th-7th grade), and Bogrim (8th-12th graders). The goal of Young Judaea is to educate and empower the Jewish Youth of the Nation to get in touch with their Jewish roots, connect with Israel, and participate in social action in their community. The Maine Chapter of Young Judaea was formed in the fall of 2004 by Kaela Frank and Maya Tepler. Currently we have only a functioning Bogrim Club. We meet about once a month for club events and four times a year for conventions with the rest of New England. So far we have had events such as: Israeli Culture Night, Trip to the Jewish Film Festival in Portland, Lag B'Omer Picnic, a Chanukkah Potluck, as well as a Hadassah Hospital Fundraiser and a Caravan 4 Katrina Fundraiser. For more information see http://www.yjnation.org or http://www.youngjudaea.org.

Upcoming events include:
March 3-5 Spring Camp (Convention for Ofarim/Tsofarim at Camp Sprout Lake, NY) March 17-19 Social Action Convention for Bogrim in West Hartford, CT April 6-9 Bogrim Spring Convenion at Camp Tel Yehuda in New York April 29-30 Not On YJ's Watch: Rally to End Genocide in Washington, DC May 18-21 Spring Convention for Bogrim at Camp Tel Yehuda, NY June 20 Young Judaea Summer Camps begin for all ages (Camp Tel Yehuda, NY) June 26 Young Judaea Israel Summer Programs Begin (11th graders only).

Current Fundraisers:
We are selling T-Shirts that say: "Social Action: Be a Hero" "Hakoach V'Yodecha (The Power is Yours)" with a picture of Captain Planet on them. They come in Adult S,M,L and they come in Light Green, Teal, and Forest Green. They cost $15 and $3 of those dollars goes to our "Recycling/Plant a Tree Campaign."

We are also selling blue fleece scarves made by Maine Judaeans with YJ embroidered in white on the corner to help raise money to support ME Young Judaea.

Contact Kaela Frank for more information or to purchase.


Young Judaea New Years Gathering
A Successful Club Event!

by Maya Tepler

Maine Young Judaea recently had a great event to kick off the New Year! We had a very special guest travel all the way up here despite the horrible weather, our very own shlicha (Israeli representative), Lihi! She started off with a discussion about Israel and how it means different things for different people. This lead into a workshop working with what we all know is one of the most significant elements of Jewish and Israeli culture...food! We all split into groups and all made a traditional Israeli dish. Afterward, we enjoyed the fruits our culinary skills. The dishes we made were hummus, flavored Israeli cheeses, chocolate balls and an orange and lemon salad. We had a great turnout of about fifteen people, including three who had never been to a YJ event before! Maine club looks forward to the great year ahead of us! For more information about joining Young Judaea and upcoming events please contact Kaela Frank.


Donations

The following members have made donations to Beth Israel Congregation. We thank them for their generosity:

  • Rachel and Michael Connolly
  • Jay and Lenore Friedland
  • Jay and Jan Isenberg
  • Norma Dreyfus and Stanley Lane
  • Dan and Susan Levey
  • Maurie Libner
  • Linda Silberstein and Larry Loeb
  • Barry and Karen Mills
  • Herb and Harriet Paris
  • Janice Povich
  • Irl and Gail Rosner
  • Walter and Rita Rubin
  • Steve and Marina Singer
  • Hal and Mary Sreden
  • Steven Stern and Arlene Morris
  • Sheldon and Denise Tepler

We thank the following friends of Beth Israel Congregation for their generosity:

  • Anonymous
  • Alan Barron
  • Ruth Belchetz
  • Johanna Bryant
  • Nathan & Rebecca Dinces
  • Sheila F. Greenberg-Ramer
  • Robert Greenblatt
  • Lillian and Paul Karass
  • Karen Kleinkopf
  • Mora Katz
  • Bruce & Cindy Nimhauser
  • Marjorie Pellerino
  • Elizabeth Schnur
  • Sarah Stendig-Wood
  • Michael Ramer
  • Jacob Goldberg
  • Ross Goldman
  • Kyle Rieger