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Beth Israel Congregation

   
 
 
 

Beth Israel Congregation Newsletter

January/February 2014
Tevet/Shevat/Adar I 5774


Cantor's Message
Beth Israel Tu B'Shvat Community Seder
Chanukah Hoedown
News from the Hebrew School
Birthdays and Anniversaries
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 info@bethisrael-maine.org.


Cantor's Message

by Cantor Daniel Leeman

From Prison to President: Was Mandela Like Joseph?

The entire Jewish world was studying the Joseph story during the extensive media coverage of Mandela's state funeral. As world leaders converged on Johannesburg to honor the memory of South Africa's spiritual father, Jewish people around the globe were studying the life and times of Joseph, one of our spiritual fathers. The parallels in the lives of the two men, Mandela and the biblical Joseph, is so remarkable that it gives one pause to ponder what lessons the comparison can offer.

Here is a quick rundown of the elements: Rolihlahla, Mandela's middle name given at birth, means "troublemaker." Joseph, the favorite of his father, and dreamer of dreams, was certainly a troublemaker. The bible describes Joseph as a "tattle tale." Mandela tended the herds of his prominent father as a "cattle boy." Joseph, also the son of a prominent leader came from a family of shepherds and herdsman.

Joseph was targeted by his older, more powerful brothers and sold into slavery. As a direct result of his dreams and ideas, he was eventually jailed unjustly. Mandela too, was targeted by those in power and ended up in prison for his visions and ideas.

Mandela showed leadership skills even in prison and rose to lead his country, inspiring millions with hope in the face of oppression and despair. Joseph was selected for his leadership skills, even in jail, and eventually became a leader of millions, not only in Egypt and its surrounding region, but also as a future legacy for the Jewish people. Both men rose to power and prominence, and were in a position to take revenge on those who unjustly oppressed them. Instead, incredibly, they created opportunities for repentance and forgiveness, truth, reconciliation and peace.

One of the most powerful remarks Mandela made in one of his speeches, in my opinion, that gives insight into his deep sense of purpose and strength of character, was when he said: "We won peace standing on our feet, not kneeling on our knees." When he rose to power he sought the same thing he wanted all along as a great leader, equality and peace.

Neither Mandela with the racist Afrikaners, nor Joseph with his reckless brothers, reconciled through power or coercion. Neither was their opposing side forced to make a deal based on the desperation of political defeat with no alternative. But rather, both men reconciled from a position of equality and dignity. When afforded the option to mete out strict justice on their tormentors, both leaders, Mandela and Joseph chose rather to forswear justice for practicality, and thereby create a better world. By doing so, they created a better outcome for themselves, their families and their communities.

Both Mandela and Joseph demonstrated courage, conviction and resolve in the face of tremendous challenges, obstacles, suffering and injustice. They did not allow the injustices they endured to thwart their righteous visions for a better world. When both men survived humiliation and despair, they pursued practical, successful outcomes. They led through the power of their ideas and convictions, not their physical strength. When their leadership skills were finally recognized and they prevailed politically, they used their power for good.

One lesson to learn from the lives of these great men is to remain steadfast to our noblest ideals, even in the face of injustice. By doing so, we too can overcome adversity and achieve great things, and thereby help not only ourselves and our families, but also the whole world.


Beth Israel Tu B'Shvat Community Seder

by Marilyn Weinberg

January 17, 2014
5:30 p.m.
Synagogue

Let us join together for a Tu B'Shvat Seder followed by a potluck dinner (no meat, but fish is OK).

Celebrate the New Year of the Trees. Sing songs and learn more about this Jewish environmental holiday!

We are supposed to eat fruits and grains grown in Israel. If you can bring something containing barley, dates, figs, grapes (or raisins), pomegranates, olives or wheat that would be great. Almonds and carob are also good options.

Contact Marilyn Weinberg at info@bethisrael-maine.org by January 8 to reserve your space. There will be a fee of $5.00 per person or $10.00 per family to cover our costs.


Chanukah Hoedown

by Lenore Friedland

The Chanukah Hoedown was great fun! About forty people ate delicious latkes prepared graciously by Donnie Speigelman and Susan Horowitz. We lit the menorahs, sang, and then formed several squares and danced and laughed and danced some more! Thanks to George Krassner for doing a wonderful job getting all to participate and have a wonderful time.


News from the Hebrew School

by Barbara Leeman

November and December gave our kids the chance to get more involved with the Hebrew school curriculum after many weeks of being busy with the High Holidays. With Hanukkah and Thanksgiving coinciding, there were some interesting discussions. Everyone had Hanukkah fun with dreidel spinning, cookie decorating, and other Hanukkah crafts. And did anyone see the gigantic menorah that our young kids made? It is worth the look. Thanksgivukkah 5774 will go down in history books.

Special Shabbatot

Our first Family Shabbat for 5774 was on November 15, 2013. We had a potluck dinner, some ruach (spirit), and singing with a short service. These services are perfect for our young families with kids.

This year our first school led Shabbat service will be on February 28, 2014. These services are always nice to attend even if you do not have students in the school. Please join us as we share peaceful moments bringing in Shabbat together.

Our Purim carnival is right around the corner. Save March 16 for a little carnival fun. More information will follow. We accept new students throughout the year. If you find that your son or daughter is ready for Hebrew school, and would like additional information, please contact us at education@bethisrael-maine.org.

Purim

Our Purim carnival is right around the corner. Save March 16 for a little carnival fun. More information will follow.

We accept new students throughout the year. If you find that your son or daughter is ready for Hebrew school, and would like additional information, please contact us at education@bethisrael-maine.org.


Birthdays and Anniversaries

January Birthdays January Anniversaries
2 Liza Greenwald   21 Diane Gilman & Arthur Davis
2 Daniel Leeman   21 Denise Linet & Gary Torow
6 Barbara Leeman   22 Ellen & Michael Hagler
7 Julia Pols   27 Michele & Ed Riley
9 Mark Ireland      
15 Isaac Daniel Ensel      
17 Stacey Giulianti      
20 Eric Arthur Ensel      
24 Ellen Hagler      
25 Robert Gersh      
26 Marc Swartz      
27 Gabriel Maseptic      

 

February Birthdays
17 Julian Ireland   7 Crissy & Marc Swartz
19 Mitchell Manin      
21 Sharon Bouchard      
27 Avi Gersh      
28 Christina Schoenberg      

Donations

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

Members of Beth Israel Congregation

  • Jeremy and Joan Fields in loving memory of her mother, Selma Shapiro Blatt
  • Morton and Evelyn Panish in loving memory of his father, Isidore Panish
  • Jay and Lenore Friedland in memory of Jeff Cohen's mother, Evelyn Cohen
  • Fred and Marilyn Weinberg in memory of Jeff Cohen's mother, Evelyn Cohen
  • Barry and Adele Faber to the Hebrew School in appreciation for the Chanukah cards
  • Marina and Stephen Singer in loving memory of his father, Isadore Singer
  • Jay and Lenore Friedland to the Hebrew School in appreciation for the Chanukah cards
  • Lynn Frank in loving memory of her cousin, Esther Friedman
  • Dr. Linda Silberstein and Larry Loeb in honor of the birth of Marilyn and Fred Weinberg's grandsons, Sebastian James Weinberg and Levi Adam Mecklenburger
  • Morton and Evelyn Panish in loving memory of his mother, Fanny Panish Mutterperl
  • Gary Torow in loving memory of his father, Morris Torow
  • Peggy Brown and John Martel in loving memory of her grandfather, Solomon Wernick
  • Fred and Marilyn Weinberg in celebration of the birth of their grandsons, Sebastian James Weinberg and Levi Adam Mecklenberger
  • Betsy Atkins in loving memory of her father, Jacob Fishkind

Friends of Beth Israel Congregation

  • Karen and Andrew Jacobs in appreciation for the High Holiday services
  • Diane Moyer
  • Ann Isacoff in celebration of the birth of her great grandsons, Sebastian James Weinberg and Levi Adam Mecklenburger
  • Deborah and Kermit Smyth in celebration of the birth of Sebastian James Weinberg and Levi Adam Mecklenburger
  • Deborah and Kermit Smyth in memory of Jeff Cohen's mother, Evelyn Cohen