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Beth Israel Congregation

   
 
 
 

Beth Israel Congregation Newsletter

November/December 2011
Heshvan/Kislev/Tevet 5772


Cantor's Message
Progressive Sukkot Celebration
Ever Have a Bar or Bat Mitzvah?
Lipman Lecture
Chanukah Shop
Chanukah Party
Hebrew School Fundraiser
Would You Like to Do a Mitzvah?
Hebrew School Scholarship Fund
News from the Hebrew School
Building Committee Activities
The Wandering Beggar
A Special Thank You!
Birthdays and Anniversaries
Welcome to New Members
Flowers for the High Holidays

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 info@bethisrael-maine.org.


Cantor's Message

by Cantor Daniel Leeman

The Veil of Modesty: (Exodus 34: 29-35)

In this Torah portion, Moses returned from Mt. Sinai with a shining face, one that literally emitted light. One of the beautiful elements of the above referenced bible story demonstrates the incredibly modest nature of Moses.

Initially unaware that his face was shining, Moses frightened his brother Aaron with the light. In fact Aaron and the Israelites with him were so scared by the light from Moses' face, they fled. Moses had to call them back. After Moses conveyed his learning to the people, he placed a veil over his face. The text confirms that he removed the veil to subsequently communicate with G-d and also removed the veil to teach the people; but replaced it afterward. How shall we interpret this action?

Rabbi Chaim Potok comments on verses 31-35 as follows:
"In the immediate presence of G-d, Moses' radiance is replenished. When he mediates the word of G-d to the people, his radiance serves to authenticate the divine source of the message. On neither occasion would a veil be appropriate, for it would interfere with his effectiveness as a leader. In his capacity as a private individual, however, Moses veils his face as a matter of course."

One reason for wearing the veil is modesty. Moses did not want to distract the community with his extraordinary appearance, when he was not engaged in learning or teaching.

One may only examine the modest speech of exceptional leaders, scholars, athletes, artists, or philanthropists. High achievers of any kind may in fact preserve the special nature of their achievement, with modest speech. Boastful words or a proud manner may weaken the community's sense of appreciation for a leader. In this event, a leader's sacrifice and hard work to reach valuable, if not extraordinary goals is diminished.

In addition, not surprisingly, the rabbis teach us that anonymous giving is considered one of the highest forms of charity. One may view the anonymity as a "veil" of separation between donor and recipient.

Leaders in our very own synagogue have widely demonstrated this quality. So many wonderful people devote their time, energy, resources and expertise to our Congregation, and never ask for anything in return. In many cases, their good work goes entirely unrecognized. This is a perfect example of true modesty right here in Bath, Maine.

The veil of Moses therefore serves as a symbol of how modesty in words and deed can help us preserve what we hold dear.


Progressive Sukkot Celebration

by Marilyn Weinberg

The sun appeared and the air was crisp as we began our annual progressive Sukkot celebration on Sunday, October 16. More than sixty members and friends of the Beth Israel Congregation broke bread, sipped soup, blessed the booths and enjoyed each other's company.

We began the festivities at the Gersh-Horowitz sukkah in Bath, where we indulged in the most delicious appetizers. Cantor Daniel explained the significance of Sukkot and we said all the blessings. We were able to walk a short distance to the Leeman family sukkah, where we enjoyed three kinds of soup, yummy bread and salad brought by our members. We then traveled to the Ensel-DeChant home for a visit and blessing of their sukkah. It was the first sukkah Lou had built and he did a great job. Isaac Daniel, Lou and Jennifer's son, gave a great speech explaining the meaning of all of their decorations and we were all moved by his sweet words. And of course the desserts everybody brought were sweet as well. The scenery was lovely, the company enjoyable and the food was yummy.

Thank you to the Horowitz-Gersh, Leeman and Ensel-DeChant families for welcoming us and taking the time to build beautiful and unique sukkahs. And thank you to all members of our Beth Israel family who brought delicious food to share, as well as Cantor Daniel for leading prayers, songs, and showing us all how to shake the lulav and etrog. It really has become one of our favorite


Ever Have a Bar or Bat Mitzvah?

by Barbara Leeman

Tuesday, November 15
7:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Minnie Brown Center

Are you Jewish, but never had a Bar or Bat Mitzvah? Have you watched and helped your children have one, but never had the chance to have one yourself? Have you ever wanted to just study for a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, knowing that you would learn a lot more Hebrew, and be able to participate more in the Shabbat services? Were you hoping to get an Aliyah on Rosh Hashanah, but were worried that you didn't know the prayers?

Any adult members of Beth Israel who never had a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, are invited to participate in a special Bar/Bat Mitzvah study program offered by Cantor Daniel and Barbara Leeman.

  • Weekly studies will culminate in a group service in honor of the graduates.
  • 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 bimah leading portions of the service.
  • 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.
  • The program will span over the next year with breaks for holidays.

Now that everyone has thought about New Year's resolutions, why not make a commitment to Jewish learning. It will surely be a blessing to you and our community. Any age or Jewish background is encouraged to attend.

An informational meeting will be held Tuesday, November 15, 2011 from 7:00-8:00 p.m. at the Minnie Brown Center. For additional information, please contact Cantor Daniel at cantor@bethisrael-maine.org or Barbara at education@bethisrael-maine.org


Lipman Lecture

by Lisa Tessler

Wednesdays November 16
7:00 p.m.
Colby College

On Wednesday, November 16, 2011, Colby College will present the 2011-12 Lipman Lecture featuring Jonathan Safran Foer titled "When Jews Laugh at Things That Aren't Funny." Foer is the author of Everything is Illuminated, which earned him a National Jewish Book Award and a Guardian First Book Award and was later made into a film. Other written works by Foer include Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Tree of Codes, and a non-fiction work, Eating Animals.

Free and open to the public, the lecture begins at 7:00 p.m. in Ostrove Auditorium in the Diamond Building on the Colby campus in Waterville, Maine.

Questions? Please contact Board Member Lisa Tessler.


Chanukah Shop

by Marina Singer

Wednesdays, December 7, 14, 21
4:00 - 6:00 p.m.
Minnie Brown Center

Chanukah begins on the evening of December 20, so I'll have Chanukah items, (candles of all kinds, cards galore, wrapping paper, decorations, books, children's gifts, etc.) available for purchase the first three weeks of December. As usual, the Minnie Brown Center Chanukah store will be open during Hebrew School hours (4:00 - 6:00 p.m.) on Wednesdays, the 7th and 14th and 21st of December. If someone wants to purchase an item, they can call or email me (giftshop@bethisrael-maine.org) to shop at another time. Anyone needing large numbers of dreidels or chocolate gelt, please let me know in November, so that I may order those items.


Chanukah Party - Save the Date

by Marilyn Weinberg

Friday, December 23
5:30 p.m.
Synagogue

The Chai committee is busy planning our next Chanukah party. It will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, December 23. There will be great food, songs and menorah lighting. More details will follow.


Hebrew School Fundraiser

by Susan Horowitz

Chanukah gelt, chocolate dreidels and maybe even chocolate Maccabees?

The Bath Sweet Shoppe will once again be creating a selection of custom items for us to purchase as gifts for family and friends.

Goodies will be available for ordering and pick-up in plenty of time to give as gifts for Chanukah.

Watch your e-mail for further details and a complete list of items and prices! There's nothing like chocolate to help keep you warm during those eight cold nights of Chanukah!


Would You Like to Do a Mitzvah?

by Lenore Friedland

Jill Standish, one of our Beth Israel members, organizes volunteers from our congregation to help The Mid coast Hunger Prevention Program. On Sunday mornings, people move donated food from Hannaford's grocery store in Brunswick, across the street to the Mid-Coast Hunger Prevention building. With enough volunteers you only need to donate just one hour of your time, once every eight weeks, to help the less fortunate. If you would like to volunteer or would like more information, please contact Jill at jpstandish@gmail.com


Hebrew School Scholarship Fund

by Robert Gersh

We have just created a scholarship fund to help needy students in our Hebrew School with the cost of their tuition. We are very grateful to Lynn Frank, for her generosity in providing the initial seed money for this fund. It is Lynn's desire for as many students as possible to benefit from these funds.

We understand and recognize that these are tough economic times for many in our congregation, including families with children in our Hebrew School. This Scholarship Fund can and will help these kids now. Hebrew School parents who wish to apply for some of these scholarship funds need only to write to our Treasurer, Robert Gersh, and ask. Scholarship funds will be used to pay Hebrew School tuition until the funds are depleted.

Toward that end, we invite other congregation members to come forward and also contribute to our Hebrew School Scholarship Fund. The religious education of our children is a core value of the Jewish faith. You can make a real difference in our congregation by making a donation to this fund! Simply make your check payable to: Beth Israel Congregation, Treasurer, 906 Washington Street, Bath, ME 04530. Write "Hebrew School Scholarship Fund" in the memo section of your check. Your contribution is tax deductible.


News from the Hebrew School

by Barbara Leeman

Hebrew school began on Wednesday September 14th. It is always wonderful to see the children returning from their summer break, making the Minnie Brown Center come alive.

This year our school-wide theme focuses on the creation story contained in the early portions of the book of Genesis. We are including related Jewish themes of rebirth, renewal, and the protection of our natural world. The creation story is being studied in English and in Hebrew. The children are expanding their biblical Hebrew vocabulary and understanding the beauty of our natural world through these studies. Each teacher is presenting these important themes in their own way.

After graduating a larger class last year, we have a little more flexibility this year with our smaller group. We are able to dive into our studies and make 5772 a year with tremendous growth! One of the major changes in our school this year is a reduction of our enrichment programs, with a focus on our core curriculum. Since we have limited time, maximizing our classroom time and assigning and monitoring homework progress, have become a greater priority.

Our Hebrew school curriculum includes Judaica (Bible, Jewish Holidays, and Jewish History) and Hebrew language instruction (reading, writing and speaking). Before going to classes, our entire school assembles for Tphillah (prayer service). This year we focus on the Kabbalat Shabbat service. This service welcomes in the Shabbat each Friday night. Our students are already becoming more comfortable with the Friday night service, and by year-end, will be confident participating in any synagogue's Kabbalat Shabbat service. In years past, we have spent our time during our Tphillah service focusing on parts of other services including: the weekday morning Shacharit service, the afternoon Mincha service, and the Torah service. After Tphillah, we split into our classes; but we assemble as a school again at the end of the school day, and gather upstairs for the music curriculum, which includes holiday and prayer music.

High Holiday Youth Services

Besides our classroom instruction, during which we discuss the High holidays, we have two dedicated members of our community who have been leading youth services for our kids each year. Our special thanks go to Denise Tepler, who led our youth service on Rosh Hashana and to Jim Raker for our Yom Kippur youth service. Both are giving of their time, and are missing large portions of the adult service to help our young members.

On Rosh Hashana, Denise employed our youth Mahzor creatively as a learning tool, and encouraged many students to help lead the service. The children had a special treat hearing Erica Tepler blow her huge shofar, and each who wanted, was able to try it as well. On Yom Kippur, Jim delighted the kids at the youth service, bringing a variety of interesting stories. Both were well attended. On Yom Kippur, Hannah Leeman led our youngest students (1-6 year olds) downstairs for a special service. We thank Denise, Jim and Hannah for their thoughtful leadership of services, and for engaging our young people to participate.

Sukkot

On October 12th, in honor of Sukkot, the children had an opportunity after school to decorate our school sukkah. Campbell Clegg put the frame together, leaving the decorating fun for the kids. While in the sukkah, Cantor Daniel gave the students an interesting description of what the lulav and etrog represent and then a snack was shared by all. Thank you to Campbell and to all our parents for giving the kids a chance to stay a bit later than usual to enjoy this tradition.

Our Youngest Children

On September 25th we had our youngest students meet at our synagogue building for the beginning of our pre-school (Gan) calendar. Once a month this group of students meets to learn about Jewish rituals, customs, and holidays through games, singing, craft projects and more. Our gratitude goes to Marina Singer, who shares her knowledge and skills with love. Our next Gan class is November 13th at 9:00 a.m. It's not too late to join the fun.

Special Thanks

Susan Horowitz has been working to keep our entire school looking clean each week. She also makes sure that snacks are ready for our very hungry students. Both of these jobs are easy to take for granted. These efforts have not gone unnoticed. Thank you.

What's Next?

  • 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. We encourage every member of our congregation and greater community to attend these special services. Your attendance and support inspires our students to continue their efforts toward a quality Jewish education. Please mark your calendars for our first one of 5772 on December 9th.
  • On December 21st our Hebrew school will celebrate Chanukah together at school, and we will join the community wide Chanukah party on December 23rd. Please mark your calendars. More information on that will be passed along, as it is available.
  • There are a few parents that get together to help plan a few nice "extras" for our students. We have only five meetings over the course of the school year, but we find it gives us a nice chance to chat about what our students are learning in the school as well. Our next meeting is scheduled for November 16th at 5:00 p.m. at the Minnie Brown center. Please consider coming to join us.
  • Parents are always welcome to stay and learn with our students during Hebrew school. The prayer services at the beginning of instruction, or the singing at the end, are perfect times to join our school kids. In addition, our teachers are always available for discussion if you are ever curious about some of your students work. Active Hebrew learners as parents, inspire our students to be more active as well.

Building Committee Activities

by Lee Leiner

The building committee has completed several projects lately:

  • Handrails were added to the bimah stairs prior to the High Holidays. They look great and were the result of a generous gift from Chico and Crissy Swartz
  • The dying maple tree in front of the Minnie Brown Center has been removed
  • Repair of another malfunctioning smoke alarm was completed
  • Repair of the concrete steps in front of the synagogue was completed
  • Arrangements were made for the seasonal maintenance of the boilers in both the Synagogue and Minnie Brown Center buildings

We are continuing to investigate replacing the carpet and improving the ventilation in the upstairs room at Minnie Brown and repairing the front doors at the synagogue.

Due to the generous elbow grease of our Unitarian Universalist tenants, the kneeling rail at Minnie Brown has been removed.


The Wandering Beggar

by Howard Rosenfield

December 2 - 18
Westbrook

Dr. Howard Rosenfield has created a theatrical adaptation of the Solomon Simon stories, The Wandering Beggar or The Adventures of Simple Shmerel. The play will be performed for Acorn Productions at the Acorn Studios, Dana Warp Mill, Westbrook, Maine.

Originally written for children, the book and play move from fun and funny tales to more serious issues dealing with religious persecution and Cossack invasions in the Ukraine region in the 1600's and 1700's. Ultimately, the story is an uplifting one, as well as entertaining!

For more information and tickets go to www.acorn-productions.org. The play will be performed the first three weekends in December.

For questions, please contact Howard Rosenfield.


A Special Thank You!

by Maurie Libner

We would like to recognize and thank Matt Barbour, C.P.A., who works in Brunswick with the firm McLeod/Ascanio, for leading a helpful discussion of recommended financial practices and procedures for the Synagogue. Matt generously provided his services this past summer, without charge. Several of his suggestions have been adopted by the Board and implemented by our Treasurer, Robert Gersh.


Birthdays and Anniversaries

November Birthdays November Anniversaries
1 Sophie Sreden   2 Cristina & Stacey Giulianti
2 Gordon Blatt   28 Ann & Ross Lewis
10 Rachel Clegg      
12 Dennis Westman      
16 Larry Loeb      
18 Eli Schoenberg      
21 Joan Fields      

 

December Birthdays December Anniversaries
2 Jennifer Kaplan   15 Joan & Jeremy Fields
22 Sam Leeman      
27 Ed Benedikt      
31 Cristina Giulianti      

Welcome to New Members

  • Adaia & Abraham Shumsky

Donations

Many thanks to the following people for their donations to Beth Israel Congregation.

Members of Beth Israel Congregation

  • Lynn Frank
  • Robert Gersh & Susan Horowitz
  • Stan Lane & Norma Dreyfus
  • Sharon Drake in memory of Edward Kravitz
  • Richard Smith
  • Robert & Barbara Lenox
  • Donald & Mara Giulianti
  • Jay & Lenore Friedland in memory of Israel Itzkowitz
  • Fred & Marilyn Weinberg
  • Dr. Linda Silberstein & Larry Loeb
  • Stephen & Barbara Baseman
  • Abraham & Adaia Shumsky
  • Jeremy & Joan Fields
  • Barrett & Barbara Silver
  • Diane Gilman
  • Janice Povich
  • Barry & Adele Faber
  • Margaret Brann
  • John & Marilyn Darack
  • Gary Torow & Denise Linet
  • Peggy Brown & John Martell
  • Andy and Deborah Hagler
  • Michael & Ellen Hagler
  • Sandy Polster & Rea Turet in memory of Evelyn Polster (his mother), Martin Polster (his father), Rosaline Lasher (her mother), and Lillian Turet (her stepmother)
  • Beth & Benet Pols
  • Marc & Chrissy Swartz to fund the new Synagogue bimah handrails
  • Betsy Atkins
  • Karen & Matthew Filler
  • The Spiegelman-Boyd Family
  • Jeff Cohen & Nancy Heiser
  • Jerry & Sharon Goldsmith
  • Jan & Joanie Isenberg
  • Dr. Irwin & Lori Brodsky
  • Gordon & Monica Blatt
  • Dr. Aaron & Liza Greenwald
  • Donna & Peter Rubin in honor and appreciation for Cantor Leeman and his naming ceremony for Rose Zigman, daughter of Kara Rubin and Michael Zigman
  • Leslie & Doris Shaw
  • Dr. James Raker & Virginia Van Slyke
  • Mitchell Manin & Joyce Bellevue
  • George & Margaret Isaacson
  • Lee Leiner & Lisa Trembley
  • Michelle Riley
  • Ed & Ruth Benedikt
  • David & Connie Povich
  • Herb & Harriet Paris
  • Marilyn Pressman
  • Judith Weisman in memory of Dorothy Gross
  • Diane Moyer
  • Denise & Sheldon Tepler
  • Lisa Tessler & Mark Ireland
  • Mort & Evelyn Panish
  • Angelo & Rosalind Rossi
  • Steven Stern & Arlene Morris
  • Marina & Steve Singer

Friends of Beth Israel Congregation

  • Anne Marks in honor of Lori & Irwin Brodsky's 25th Wedding Anniversary and Alec Brodsky's graduation from Dartmouth College
  • Marji Greenhut in memory of Priscilla Schwartz (Denise Tepler's mother), Edward Davidson (Scott Davidson's father), and Herman Greenhut
  • Jerry & Michele Silver in honor of the 70th Birthday of their cousin, Barrett Silver
  • Sheila & Raymond Lucente
  • Ansel & Zira Schiffer
  • Gertrude Rosner
  • Judi Rosner
  • The Peace Center of Brunswick
  • Patricia and J.P. Manning
  • Stephen Entman
  • Dr. Arnold Tillinger, MD
  • Dr. W. H. & Hillary Friedman
  • Ken Leroy
  • Bonnie Markey in honor of Heather & Corey Walker
  • Lori Christmastree
  • Joe & Merna Guttentag
  • Portland Chevra Kadisha
  • Dr. & Mrs. Stephen Rochman Advised Fund of Cumberland Community Foundation
  • Dr. Howard Rosenfield in appreciation of Cantor Leeman's performing Dr. Johanna & Tyler Kremberg's wedding ceremony
  • Kara Rubin in gratitude for Cantor Leeman's help with a special naming ceremony for her baby daughter, Rose Zigman.
  • Matthew & Rosalind Budd
  • Robert P. Smith
  • Janice Levitt
  • Gil & Marilyn Prawer
  • Jay & Cathy Rosman
  • Marcia & Lenny Klompus in memory of Dorice Povich Mensh

Flowers for the High Holidays

by Marina Singer

Thank you to everyone who made donations towards the beautiful flower arrangements that graced our bimah for the High Holidays.

Rosh Hashanah Flowers

  • Jim Raker and Virginia Van Slyke in honor of the Raker family

Yom Kippur Flowers

  • Barbara & Robert Lenox in honor of their grandsons Zachary and Jayden Bronstein
  • Karen and Matthew Filler in memory of Gerald and Frances Feldman and Morris and Gladys Filler
  • Barbara and Stephen Baseman in memory of Isadore Baseman, Samuel Axler, Esther Barron and Robert Baseman
  • Robert Greenblatt in memory of Abraham & Sarah Greenblatt
  • Linda Silberstein and Larry Loeb in memory of Helen Nataf
  • Donny and Mara Giulianti in memory of Leon and Bertha Berman and Nicholas and Elaine Giulianti
  • Sharon Drake in memory of Edward Kravitz