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Beth Israel Congregation

   
 
 
 

Beth Israel Congregation Newsletter

November/December 2014
Heshvan/Kislev/Tevet 5775


President's Message
Strategic Planning Session 2
Family Shabbat
Musical Shabbat During Thanksgiving Weekend
Progressive Sukkot Celebration
Simchat Torah
News from the Hebrew School
New Beginnings and Wise Choices
Chanukah Shop
Hanukkah Recipes
Birthday and Anniversaries
Welcome to New Members
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.


President's Message

by Marilyn Weinberg

The fall holiday season is now over, but I am thankful for the lovely memories that all of these celebrations leave with us. I value our services with their meaningful liturgy and songs for each holiday. I also especially appreciate the time it gives us to be together as a community. Our Rosh Hashanah luncheon, Yom Kippur breakfast, Sukkot progressive luncheon and Simchat Torah dinner provide an important bond to connect on a different and personal level.

During this busy time we held the launch for our strategic planning process. Fifty members joined together on Sunday, September 28, to brainstorm ideas of how to keep our congregation a warm, inviting, vibrant Jewish community. Two hours flew by as we identified all of those areas we want to explore and focus on during this yearlong process.

Although there is a team of members working on this process, it is in actuality the entire membership's input and concern that will make this plan go forward. There will be multiple meetings for the entire congregation throughout the year. No plan or final decisions will be made without your feedback and responses.

Planning

Our next full congregation Strategic meeting will be held on Sunday, December 7 at Minnie Brown Center. We are excited to have Rabbi Liza Stern come to talk with us. Rabbi Stern is the spiritual leader for Congregation Eitz Chayim, a non-affiliated congregation in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is a dynamic and inspiring speaker and I think will help us in our search for making Beth Israel an inclusive, vibrant Jewish community. The major question we will be asking is "what kind of Jewish community do you want us to be."

The only plan that will work for all of us is one that you help create. Please mark your calendars and let us join together on December 7 for our next strategic planning session.

Blessed are you, Adonai our God, who has hallowed us with mitzvot and commanded us to engage ourselves with the needs of the community.


Strategic Planning Session 2

What kind of Jewish community do you want Beth Israel to become?

Speaker: Rabbi Liza Stern

Sunday, December 7
Minnie Brown Center
9:30-11:30 a.m.

child care available


Family Shabbat

By Barbara Leeman

Friday, November 14
5:30 p.m.
Beth Israel Synagogue

Family Shabbat services continue at Beth Israel Congregation. These "family style" Shabbats take place at 5:30 p.m. and are designed for families with young children. We will begin with a potluck vegetarian/dairy dinner. We say the appropriate blessings, sing songs and listen to a story. Services last approximately thirty minutes, and are a great way to introduce young children to our Jewish community. This program takes the place of our regular Friday night service.


Musical Shabbat During Thanksgiving Weekend

By Barbara Leeman

Friday, November 28
7:00 p.m.
Beth Israel Synagogue

For those of you that know the extended Leeman family, you know that there is always music at their family simcha's and other celebrations. Thanksgiving is no different. There will be additional music and singing on Friday, November 28 at 7:00 p.m. during services. We will have special Shabbat Zemirot (melodies) modified into 2 and 3-part harmonies. It is a great chance to learn many of these beautiful songs while observing Shabbat. Cantor Daniel's siblings are no strangers to Beth Israel. They would love to say hello to many of their old friends while meeting many of our new members. Some of you may be with families out of town. For those of you, who are here in Maine hosting, please bring your families along for a relaxing way to unwind after a big Thanksgiving celebration.


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 12. Beth Israel members and friends 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 home of our new member, Allen Norman. The Sreden family helped build the sukkah at his house. Here we enjoyed three kinds of soup, yummy bread and salad brought by our members. We then traveled to the Ensel-DeChant home. Lou and his children did a great job building their sukkah. Isaac Daniel and Eric filled it with abundant decorations, Isaac gave a great speech explaining the meaning of all of their decorations and we were all moved by his knowledge and sincerity. And of course the desserts everybody brought were sweet as well. The scenery was lovely, the company enjoyable and the food was delicious.

Thank you to the Horowitz-Gersh, Norman 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 celebrations.


Simchat Torah

by Maurie Libner

About fifty people were present for our Simchat Torah celebration, including at least 15 children. After a nice supper consisting of pizza, fruit and salads, we davened for Shabbat, and then finished the annual cycle of Torah reading with the end of Deuteronomy (Devarim), the last book of the Torah; and promptly opened our other scroll to read the story of creation in Genesis (Berashis). Then came what is the highlight of the occasion, for many of us, especially the children. We marched around the shul many times holding our Torah scrolls, chanting 'Annanu' and waiving Israeli flags. The final 'hakafa' brought us outside, onto the sidewalk, symbolizing our obligation to spread the light of Torah to the outside world. After a brief conclusion to the Shabbat service, we adjourned to the basement for dessert. The occasion was very spirited and enjoyed much by all participants.


News from the Hebrew School

by Barbara Leeman

We have had a very busy two months. Hebrew School began on Wednesday, September 3. We are happy to return to our studies and have our students back from summer break. Our Hebrew School curriculum includes Judaica (Bible, Jewish holidays, and Jewish history) as well as Hebrew language instruction (reading, writing and speaking). Before going to classes, our entire school assembles for Tphillah (a short prayer service). We continue using "child-friendly" prayer books. Following Tphillah we have been reading a Jewish short story each week. We assemble again at the end of the school day, and gather upstairs for our music curriculum, which includes Jewish songs (Israeli folk, prayer and holiday melodies).

Our Teachers

We have four very dedicated teachers that come each week. They prepare lessons to guide our students in their Hebrew learning. They instill the love of Judaism, helping our students learn to enjoy being a part of our Jewish community. Yasher Koach to Cantor Daniel, Alina Shumsky, Marina Singer and Susan Horowitz. Yasher Koach literally means, "May your strength be firm!" It's an idiom meaning, "Good job!" and it carries with it the hope that this mitzvah will give the strength to carry on to future mitzvot.

High Holiday Youth Services

Denise Tepler led the Rosh Hashana youth service while Marina Singer and Monica Blatt led the Yom Kippur youth service. The students were engaged in discussion while following along in the High Holiday Mahtzor (prayerbook). Thank you to Denise, Marina and Monica for your thoughtful and interesting leadership of services.

Sukkot

Many thanks to Campbell Clegg, Lee Leiner, Robert and Susan Gersh who put the frame together for our school Sukkah on October 5, giving the kids an opportunity to decorate it and have a Sukkah party on October 8 during Hebrew school. We enjoyed a snack inside the Sukkah as Cantor Daniel discussed the holiday, and gave an explanation of the lulav and etrog and what they represent. Alina's class presented a fun skit for us all to enjoy and learn about Sukkot. Todah Rabah.

Simchat Torah

On October 17, we celebrated Simchat Torah. We began with a pizza party prior to the service. After lighting our Shabbat candles, we symbolically washed our hands, made Motzi (blessing over the food) and then benched (thanking G-d for our sustenance). We all headed upstairs where we marched around our sanctuary with our Torah scrolls dancing and singing in honor of Simchat Torah. We had quite a large crowd, young and old. Everyone who wished took a turn carrying the Torah during one of the seven hakafot. Hakafot has been compared to traditional Jewish weddings, where it refers to the bride's circling the groom seven times. Many regard the hakafot of Simchat Torah as wedding circuits, symbolizing the marriage between Israel and the Law. We began the year by starting the reading of the Torah over. Some of our students prepared a Ki Mitzion presentation ("Because from Zion comes the Torah") for all to join in and learn. Thank you Alina, for preparing our students for this special presentation. Each of the groups (men, women and children) was called up to receive the honor of an Aliyah. The children received a special blessing under a giant Tallit.

Some Classroom Activities

Our younger students took a field trip to the synagogue and had a treasure hunt, looking for many religious items. They made small round challot before Rosh Hashana and an edible sukkah during Sukkot. They unrolled a mini Torah before Simchat Torah, and looked inside to discuss the contents.

During Tphillah, our young students are working on: Hinei MaTov, Shema and Modeh Ani.

During music, some of the new songs we've learned are: Tapuhim Ud'vash, Hayom T'amtsenu, V'al Kulam and Avinu Malkenu. In honor of Sukkot, we practiced: Uforatzto, Lama Sukkah Zu and Sisu V'simhu.

Bagels & Blocks Playgroup

Our first "Bagels & Blocks" drop-in playgroup started on Monday October 27. This is from 10:00–11:00 at the Minnie Brown Center. This is designed as an opportunity for our young Jewish couples with young kids to meet each other while relaxing and enjoying some coffee and bagels. Our preschool kids (1–5 years old) will have a chance to play with some blocks, toys and of course, each other. Our next meeting is November 17, from 9:30–11:00. Please contact Teresa Gandler at tsagandler@gmail.com or Barbara Leeman at education@bethisrael-maine.org for information and input.

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 student's work. Active Hebrew learners as parents, inspire our students to be more active as well.

Special Thanks

Has everyone been downstairs in the Minnie Brown Center? If not, you are in for a big surprise! Teresa Gandler (with Susan Horowitz's help) painted the Bath, Maine version of the Kotel. It is amazing. We are trying to figure out how to give our students a chance to leave notes in the wall, or pray at the wall as if they were in Jerusalem. Yasher Koach. GREAT job.

During Sukkot we had two teenage mentors helping our younger students. Yasher Koach to Nadia Leiner and Arielle Leeman. We look forward to some of our other teenage mentors joining us for other special Hebrew school activities as well.

Hanukkah is Coming

Last year our Hebrew school sent out a Hanukkah surprise package to each of our members. If you have any of your Hanukkah cards left; now would be the time to pull them out. Please remember to share your Hanukkah joy with your friends and family.

Our Hanukkah celebration at Hebrew school is scheduled for December 17 when we will have a chance to create some Hanukkah crafts and enjoy some treats.

Hebrew School Wish List

Our students continue to collect food/dry items to bring to the food bank. The food pantry has mentioned that the following items are most helpful: pasta (in boxes), canned pasta, canned meat, bottled juice, cereal, coffee (regular) and diapers (disposable). However, all items are accepted and appreciated. There is a box placed in the hallway of the Minnie Brown Center for the collection of the items.

New Students

We are always happy to welcome new students. This year we have a chance to welcome Molly and Isla Tefft, and Ana Kelly. If you find that your son or daughter is ready for Hebrew school or you know someone that may be interested in additional information regarding a Jewish education, please contact us at education@bethisrael-maine.org.


New Beginnings and Wise Choices

by Cantor Daniel Leeman

It was wonderful to see everyone over the High Holidays. The month long series of holidays began with a period of reflection, renewal and purification that we observed on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The holidays ended with the joyous celebration of Sukkot and Simchat Torah. It was a pleasure to share all of these lovely autumn festivals with you.

It's no accident, in my opinion, that we complete the month long process of renewal with a fresh look at Genesis, the creation story. All new beginnings are difficult, whether it be a new home, a new school, or a new job, even a new direction for our synagogue. They always require a lot of choices. The wisdom of our choices are often based on the distinguishing choices we've made in the past. As we begin our new path in 5775, let's examine our future options through the lens of the Torah, and in accordance with the values and wisdom of our rabbis and sages.

There are two lessons from the creation story that I want to share with you. I believe they exemplify the "Havdalot" (distinguishing processes) G-d made at the beginning of the world, and illustrate a path for wise choices that we may take in the coming year. One lesson comes from the very first element of creation, light. The other is among the last elements of creation, the first human being.

As soon as G-d created light, the first thing G-d did was to distinguish light from darkness, day from night, symbolically good from evil. This is true at all new beginnings. There are a lot of choices and distinctions to make. Out of the formless void came light. Out of the chaos of our daily lives, we extract the most valuable elements. Through our study and practice of Judaism, we separate the light from the darkness.

When G-d created the first human being, Adam, it was at the end of the sixth day, before the Sabbath. Oddly when G-d began the process of creating the first human being, G-d began to speak in the plural: "Let's make Adam in OUR image, after OUR likeness…" Genesis 1:26 Why does this question take such a curious form? What's the significance of the use of the plural? What does the statement really mean? Who was G-d addressing?

Our sages suggest that G-d was speaking to the animals saying: Together let us fashion a unique creature in our image, yours and Mine. Like you, the animals, the first human may need to eat, sleep, and mate. But like Me, G-d, let's make him capable of compassion, creativity, morality and self-awareness.

It's as if G-d was saying: "Let's make humanity distinct from the rest of the animal world, the culmination of creation, with the capacity for divine qualities." Beyond only animal characteristics, humanity was created WITH the ability to distinguish and to choose wisely. We have the capacity to act nobly, more like G-d than the animal world. This is a critical distinction.

So, as we all start 5775, let's become the type of human being that was truly created in the image of G-d. Let's become the human being that G-d imagined us to be. As we plan to make changes in the future year, let's act wisely not only for our families, and ourselves but also for the sake of our entire synagogue, and community. By doing so, we may reflect both the light of Torah, and the highest ideals for humanity. By doing so, we may sustain the holy ideals that we were created to embody.


Chanukah Shop

by Marina Singer

Wednesday, December 3, 10, 17
4:00–6:00 p.m.
Minnie Brown Center

Chanukah begins on the evening of December 16, so I'll have Chanukah items, candles of all kinds, cards galore, wrapping paper, decorations, books, children's gifts, and more available for purchase.

The Minnie Brown Center Chanukah store will be open during Hebrew School hours (4:00–6:00 p.m.) on Wednesdays, December 3, 10 and 17. If someone wants to purchase an item, they can email me at giftshop@bethisrael-maine.org to shop at another time.

Anyone needing large numbers of dreidels or chocolate gelt please let me know by the end of November, so that I may order those items. When you buy your Chanukah products from the Congregation gift shop, the Congregation benefits!


Hanukkah Recipes

by Lynn Frank and Marilyn Weinberg

Potato Latkes and Sufganiyot are eaten on Hanukkah because they are cooked in oil. That reminds us of the miracle of the oil. Below are recipes that children can make with adult supervision.

Potato Latkes

3 potatoes
2 eggs
1 onion
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 tsp. matzoh meal, chicken fat, or cooking oil
applesauce or sour cream
  • Grate the potatoes. Squeeze out the water.
  • Grate the onion.
  • Beat the eggs.
  • Mix together the potato, onion, and egg.
  • Add 3 tsp. matzoh meal.
  • Add 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper and mix together.
  • Form into pancakes.
  • Fry in chicken fat or cooking oil until brown on both sides.
  • Serve with applesauce or sour cream.

Sufganiyot
(Makes about 30)

3/4 c. orange juice
3 c. flour
1/4 lb. margarine
2 eggs, beaten
4 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. oil 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. Yum!

Birthdays and Anniversaries

November Birthdays November Anniversaries
1 Sophie Sreden   2 Cristina & Stacey Giulianti
2 Jill Cooper      
2 Gordon Blatt      
10 Rachel Clegg      
11 Judy Wolfe      
15 Alva Gandler      
15 Joyce Bellevue      
16 Larry Loeb      
18 Eli Schoenberg      
21 Joan Fields      

 

December Birthdays December Anniversaries
2 Jennifer Kaplan   15 Joan & Jeremy Fields
2 Bob Lobis      
6 Todd Gandler      
7 Nicholas Hagler      
13 Karen Filler      
22 Sam Leeman      
27 Ed Benedikt      
31 Christine Giulianti      
31 Michele Riley      

Welcome to New Members

  • Wayne and Amy Gould
  • Ben and Stacy Koenig
  • Rachel and Nathan Tefft
  • Lynda and Greg Kelly
  • Allen Norman
  • Micki Gersh
  • Glen and Beth Eisman
  • Shari Sage

Donations

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

Members and Friends

  • Evelyn and Mort Panish in loving memory of her father, Henry Chaim
  • Marcia and Leonard Klompus in loving memory of her father, Benjamin Mensh
  • Marcia and Leonard Klompus in loving memory of her mother, Dorice Povich Mensh
  • Rea Turet in loving memory of Lillian Turet, Rosaline Lasher, Martin Polster and Evelyn Polster
  • Judith Weisman in loving memory of her mother, Dorothy Gross
  • Marc and Crissy Swartz in loving memory of his mother, Janet Lee Swartz
  • Thyle Sharter and Marty Fox in loving memory of her mother, Sarah Sharter
  • Stephen and Marina Singer in loving memory of their mothers, Bessie Singer and Henrietta Shapiro
  • Rick Smith in loving memory of his mother, Sara Smith
  • Lenore and Jay Friedland in loving memory of her father, IsraeI Itzkowitz
  • Aaron and Liza Greenwald in loving memory of his mother, Lillian Greenwald
  • Seth and Victoria Lobis in honor of their daughter, Claudia Esther Lobis
  • Sanford and Cynthia Boxerman
  • Paul and Lillian Karass
  • "A friend" in honor of Linda Silberstein's birthday
  • Jay and Lenore Friedland
  • Betsy Atkins
  • John and Marilyn Darack
  • Stephen and Barbara Baseman
  • Mitchell Manin and Joyce Bellevue in honor of Cantor Daniel Leeman
  • Linda Silberstein and Larry Loeb in honor of Marilyn and Fred Weinberg and their work on the Bath Jewish history project
  • Marilyn Pressman for a speedy recovery of Kathleen Navasette
  • Jerrold Lurie in loving memory of Celia and Phillip Lurie
  • William and Marilyn Horowitz in honor of Robert, Susan, Shira and Avi Gersh
  • Rita and Keith Spiro and Adrienne Baum in honor of Janice Povich
  • Sheila Cohen in loving memory of the Cohen family
  • Diane Moyer
  • Diane Gilman
  • Richard Garrity
  • Raymond and Sheila Lucente
  • Bruce Kampner
  • Stephen and Lisa Clark
  • Phyllis B. Clark for the roof fund in memory of Ricky Leigh Mensh
  • Norman Cherner
  • Rachel Trockman
  • George Schoenberg
  • Judith Rosner in memory of her parents, Francis and Gertrude Rosner
  • Marcia and Leonard Klompus for the roof fund and lovely High Holiday services
  • Elliot and Helene Lerner for the roof fund and lovely High Holiday services
  • Sharon Drake for a donation to the Hebrew School Scholarship Fund
  • Marcia and Leonard Klompus for a donation to the Hebrew School Scholarship Fund in memory of her son, Jeffrey Robert Cherner

Flowers for the High Holidays

  • Mitch Manin and Joyce Bellevue in memory of Milton and Annette Manin and George Bellevue
  • Barbara and Robert Lenox in honor of their grandsons, Zachary and Jayden Bronstein
  • Barbara and Stephen Baseman in memory of Isadore Baseman, Esther Barron, Samuel Axler, and Robert Baseman
  • Crissy and Marc Swartz in memory of HR Autz
  • Marty Fox and Thyle Shartar in memory of Sarah Shartar and Thelma and Max Fox
  • Judy Weisman in memory of Milton and Dorothy Gross
  • Sharon and Jerry Goldsmith in memory of their parents, grandparents and Jerry's brother
  • Lenore and Jay Friedland in memory of Edward and Nettie Friedland and Israel and Esther Itzkowitz
  • Sharon Drake in memory of her father, Edward Kravitz
  • Sheila Cohen in honor of the Cohen family
  • Sheila Lucente