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Beth Israel Congregation


Beth Israel Congregation Newsletter

May/June 2018
Iyyar/Sivan/Tammuz 5778

Rabbi's Message
President's Message
Annual Meeting and Celebration
Upcoming Services and Programs at Beth Israel
Shavuot Service
Shabbat Under The Stars
Maine Conference for Jewish Life
Our Graduates
Passover Seder
Purim and a Parade of Volunteers
Hebrew School Students Welcome In Shabbat
Remembrances for May-June 2018
Birthdays and Anniversaries

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

Rabbi's Message

by Rabbi Lisa Vinikoor

Dear Beth Israel Friends

Have you heard the Jewish time-travel story about Moses and Rabbi Akiva? I love this story and want to share it with you in honor of the upcoming holiday of Shavuot.

The story comes from Talmud Menachot 29b where our ancient rabbis teach that when Moses received the Torah from God on Mount Sinai, he saw God affixing each Hebrew letter with beautiful crowns and decorations. Moses wondered about this special lettering and asked God about its purpose. God told Moses that the decorations on each letter represented the future teachings of a scholar who lived in Israel in the 2nd century CE named Rabbi Akiva. Moses begged God to meet this Rabbi Akiva. So God transported Moses, in a kind of time machine, into the future. Suddenly, Moses appeared in Rabbi Akiva's classroom. As he sat and listened to the lesson Moses became distressed because he couldn't understand anything that Rabbi Akiva taught. Finally, one of the students asked a question about the origin of a law and Rabbi Akiva answered that the law came from Moses at Mount Sinai. Moses felt better.

This midrash teaches us the importance of fostering new traditions while honoring the past. When Moses travels to the future, he feels out of place and uncomfortable. Even our great prophet needed to learn something new! Yet Rabbi Akiva, who represents the voice of change, harkens back to the past, given credit to Moses, as the originator of his own innovations.

Whether we have been part of the Beth Israel community for many years, or whether we are brand new, we need each other and in fact we are stronger together. Through compassionate listening, seeking connection and striving for sacred community, we can bring Torah into our lives and work to create more wholeness in our world.

I look forward to studying and praying with you all this Shavuot and beyond.

Rabbi Vinikoor

President's Message

by Marilyn Weinberg

I have been asked by several people who were not able to attend the community brunch on April 8, to share some my "talk" as well as comments and topics discussed. So what you have below is a condensed version of my presentation along with a summary of our discussion.

This is a time to gather. As a board we have always come together to share what is happening and take time to listen to your ideas and recommendations. We have had regular annual community conversations when we started our strategic plan and then adopted it, when we decided to affiliate and when we began our Rabbi search. So this year we wanted an opportunity to share the work of the board with you. We have been very busy continuing the work of the strategic plan: "We are a nourishing place where people learn, study, question, observe, and connect with God and community."

What a wonderful thing it is to have a rabbi with us. Rabbi Vinikoor has brought so much new energy to our congregation. In the first month she was here she shared a meal or dessert with nearly everyone in the congregation. What an amazing way to begin! Then came the High Holidays, the progressive Sukkot party, a shared Shabbaton with Bowdoin Hillel including a concert by the Casco Bay Tummlers and we are only in October. We now regularly have services at least two times a month both Friday night and Saturday morning. Our programs are expanding and people are coming.

Our Hebrew School is growing. We now have 21 children enrolled including 10 in the K-2 grade. We are hoping it will continue to grow. The Rabbi and Alyssa did their part. Shira will start Kindergarten in 2023!

After the high holidays last year the board created four subcommittees, each of which focused on a specific set of tasks: Social Action, Cemetery, Finance and B'nei Mitzvah.

On the social action front, we have signed a "Brit Olam" with the Reform movement's religious action center. In doing so, we agree to "acting powerfully and together to bring upon the world we want—a world filled with justice, compassion and wholeness." Our community service and social action committee is just starting, but will be here for the long term. We know there is a lot of interest.

The B'nai Mitzvah committees updated the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Handbook that you will find on the website .

Stan Lane has agreed to head the Cemetery Committee and the new Cemetery By-Laws are also on the website . If you want to buy a plot you can contact him. In addition we are working on a booklet you will be able access to learn what to do and who you contact if you have a loss in the family.

Another board subcommittee is the Finance Committee, which will remain a standing subcommittee of the board going forward. Right now the committee is made up of Karen Filler, Rachel Connelly, Marty Fox and Lou Ensel. They have been working hard to get our financial house in order.

After a full report from our Treasurer, Karen Filler, with input from Rachel Connelly, it was made clear to us that our annual budget (with present dues and donations) cannot sustain our congregational needs. Even with increased membership this year we are running a deficit. In addition, it is clear that our Hebrew School parents have had to take on additional costs to keep their children enrolled in the religious school. Because we believe that the children of our congregation are the future of Beth Israel, we feel that the congregation should support the Hebrew School and remove that extra expense from their parents.

It was recommended and supported by all present that dues should be raised for the next year and there would be no added tuition for Hebrew School families who are members of Beth Israel. This will be discussed and finalized at the annual meeting.

We asked all present to divide into small groups and take a few moments to consider what are the top three things you want from this congregation.

There was remarkable support and agreement for the future direction of our congregation. They are: Development: Raise money for operating expenses, endowments and capital issues. Add Adult Education Increase our involvement in social action along with adding community outreach.

Our Annual Meeting date will be Wednesday, June 20 at 6:30 p.m. We hope you will be there.

Annual Meeting and Celebration

Please join us on
Wednesday, June 20
at the Minnie Brown Center

6:30 p.m. – Dessert & Annual Meeting

We would like to change things around this year for our Annual Meeting. We will begin our meeting focusing on our future goals and financial decisions and elect new board members for the upcoming year.

We will then take some time to connect with each other, celebrate our first year with Rabbi Vinikoor and applaud all of you who have contributed so much to the welfare and growth of Beth Israel.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Upcoming Services and Programs at Beth Israel


Saturday, May 5
10:00-10:45 am
Tot Shabbat
Led by Rachel Connelly
Minnie Brown Center

Friday, May 11 at 7:00 pm
Shabbat Evening Service
Led by Rabbi Lisa Vinikoor
Oneg: Tepler Family

Saturday, May 12
10:00 am - Shabbat Morning Service
11:00 am - Torah Study
Led by Rabbi Lisa Vinikoor

Friday, May 18 at 7:00 pm
Shabbat Evening Service
Led by Rabbi Lisa Vinikoor
Oneg: Eisman Family

Saturday, May 19
10:00 am - Shabbat Morning Service
11:00 am - Torah Study
Led by Rabbi Lisa Vinikoor

Sunday, May 20
9:30 am Shavuot Morning Service
10:30 am Brunch and Learn about Shavuot
Led by Rabbi Lisa Vinikoor


Friday, June 1 at 6:30 pm
Shabbat Evening Service
Led by Hebrew School Students
Oneg: Greenwald Family

Saturday, June 2
10:00 am - Shabbat Morning Service
11:00 am - Torah Study
Led by Rabbi Lisa Vinikoor

Saturday, June 2
10:00-10:45 am
Tot Shabbat
Led by Rachel Connelly
Minnie Brown Center

June 8–10
The Maine Conference for Jewish Life
Thomas College in Waterville, Maine

Friday, June15 at 7:00 pm
Shabbat Evening Service
Led by Rabbi Lisa Vinikoor
Oneg: Kempler-Rosen Family

Saturday, June 16
10:00 am - Shabbat Morning Service
11:00 am - Torah Study
Led by Rabbi Lisa Vinikoor

Wednesday, June 20 at 6:30 pm
Congregation Annual Meeting
Minnie Brown Center

Friday, June 29 at 6:30 pm
Shabbat Under The Stars
Led by Rabbi Lisa Vinikoor
Oneg: Lenox Family

Saturday, June 30
10:00 am - Shabbat Morning Service
11:00 am - Torah Study
Led by Rabbi Lisa Vinikoor

Shavuot Service

by Marilyn Weinberg

Sunday, May 20
9:30 a.m. - Shavuot Service
10:30 a.m. - Brunch & Learn
Led by Rabbi Lisa Vinikoor

Shavuot is the Hebrew word for "weeks" and refers to the Jewish festival marking the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, which occurs seven weeks after Passover.

Shavuot, like many other Jewish holidays, began as an ancient agricultural festival that marked the end of the spring barley harvest and the beginning of the summer wheat harvest. There are many customs associated with the celebration of Shavuot and at Beth Israel we are going to honor all of them in our own way.

Some synagogues hold a Tikkun Leil where they host learning programs that go on all night, culminating in morning services at sunrise. Since this might not work for all of us we decided to begin our service a little later (9:30 a.m.). Instead of staying up all night, we will have a "study" session along with a dairy brunch following our service, since It is also customary to eat dairy foods on Shavuot because Jewish tradition compares the words of Torah to the sweetness of milk and honey.

What a great way to honor the customs of Shavuot than by having a morning service, a yummy brunch with kugel and bagels (with cream cheese) along with a study session with Rabbi Lisa Vinikoor.

Shabbat Under The Stars

by Marilyn Weinberg

Friday, June 29
6:30 p.m.
Lenox Residence
Orrs Island

By popular request we will be resuming our Shabbat Under the Stars program this summer. Barbara and Robert Lenox have offered their home for our first outdoor service of the season. If you have attended one of these services you know how wonderful they are. If you have not yet had an opportunity to attend in previous years, then make this your first of many.

Maine Conference for Jewish Life

June 8–10, 2018
Thomas College • Waterville, Maine

Join Jews from around the state to experience the best of Jewish learning, culture and life.

For more information and to register:

Our Graduates

Many of the class members who "graduated" from Hebrew School in 2012 are now ready to graduate from High School and leave our community to start a new chapter in their lives. We want to congratulate all of them and share a little information about their achievements.

Tobyn Blatt is graduating in May from the Maine School of Science and Mathematics with dual degrees, a high school diploma and an Associates degree from University of Maine. He will be transferring in over 70 credits to the University of Maine Orono as a member of their Honors College to complete an undergraduate degree majoring in mathematics and financial economics with the intent of then continuing on to graduate school. Tobyn played on the varsity baseball and soccer teams throughout high school, and was captain of both teams for junior and senior years. He won multiple awards for his work on the field for both skill and leadership, including the Butch Shaw Award for two consecutive years. Tobyn also served on MSSM's Student Senate in officer positions, and served as the 2017-18 YMCA Maine Youth in Government's President of the Senate. On top of these activities, Tobyn was also a member of the Maine State All-Star Math Team for the past two seasons and top 20 finisher in the state for regular season. He hopes to continue playing sports and being active in student government in college.

Ethan Boll is the salutatorian of the Brunswick High School class of 2018 and will speak at the graduation. While in high school, he has been active in music, theater and baseball. Highlights of his performances include Thenardier in "Les Miserables" and Thomas Andrews (the ship's architect) in "Titanic." He represented BHS for voice at the All-National festival in fall of 2017 and made appearances at Districts and All-States for voice and clarinet throughout his high school career. Ethan will attend Princeton University this fall and is excited to explore various fields of study including classics, chemistry, theater and more.

Samantha Gersh is graduating from Morse High School and plans on attending Southern Maine Community College in the fall. She was a member of the Wescustago Youth Chorale for 6 years. She also volunteered at the Coastal Humane Society, taking care of dogs and cats. As a result of her work at CHS, we were able to meet and adopt Pinky, our sweet and kooky rescue dog!!! She also enjoys Japanese anime and playing computer games.

Nick Hagler will graduate from Waynflete as a member of the Cum Laude Society and attend Vanderbilt University in the fall to study engineering. He has run cross country and played Baseball all 4 years at Waynflete and served as captain of the Baseball team this year and was awarded the MVP award last year. He has participated on the Waynflete Robotics team and Science Olympiad team and this year is one of the Science Olympiad Team Captains and will travel to Denver as part of the Waynflete team that won the Maine state Championship to compete in the National Championship. He has played drums in the Jazz band throughout High School. He has an amazing group of friends and has been fortunate to have a wonderful and inspiring group of teachers.

Isabella Pols is graduating from Brunswick High School with a 3.7 GPA and will be attending Connecticut College in the fall, where she will run cross country, indoor and outdoor track and working toward a career in either Physical Therapy or Education. Isabella has been a youth track coach for the Brunswick Parks and Recreation Department for the last few summers. During high school she has been in Treble Choir and Chamber Choir. She is a member of the National Honor Society, National Honor Art Society (Vice President), National Honor Spanish Society and Tri-M Music Honor Society. Isabella has run cross country, indoor and outdoor track, all through high school and has been named to the KVAC All Conference Second Team twice. She's been team captain throughout her junior and senior years and received the Coach's Award 5 times. Isabella has done a great deal of community service, much of it at the Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program. She has also served on the CREA board as the BHS student representative and is a board member of RunBrunswick, a non-profit organization working to raise funds for a new track for the community. Isabella received a Scholastic Silver Key Art Award her sophomore year.

Leah Totman is graduating 4th in her class from Morse High School. As an AP Scholar, Leah is a member of the National Honor Society, and has received the KVAC All Conference Swimmer Award, Saint Anslem College Book Award, and many academic awards for outstanding achievement. Leah was on the Morse Swim Team and Morse Field Hockey Team all four years at Morse, and Captain of both teams her senior year. She also participated in lacrosse, tennis, track, and Long Reach Swim Club. Leah has volunteered her time with Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program, Freshman and Senior Community Service Days, and Shipbuilders Committed. She is employed by Sebasco Harbor Resort on the tour boat Ruth. Leah will attend Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida this fall to study Environmental Science and Economics. Her hopes for the future include visiting every continent and gaining a master's or PhD degree in her field of study.

Passover Seder

by Marina Singer

More than eighty members, including family and friends of Beth Israel Congregation gathered at the Minnie Brown Center to tell the Story of Passover, share a beautiful, tasty meal and enjoy fellowship with people we do not get to see often enough.

Everyone pitched in to help with the Seder meal, setting up, cleaning up and sharing in the responsibility of telling the story. A special thank you to Marilyn and Fred Weinberg who organize, shop, set up and clean up with help from lots of friends.

Many of our children were there to hear and read the story and participate in the ritual…especially when it came to hiding the Afikoman and opening the door for Elijah. They enjoyed some new traditions such as a Passover coloring packet that went along with the Seder to keep them interested and learning about the "order" at the same time.

Rabbi Lisa Vinikoor led us in her first Seder at Beth Israel, but everyone participated by reading from the Haggadah, singing the joyous songs, tasting the delicious foods, and enjoying the familiar rituals that help us to feel "as if we went out of Egypt."

Next year at Minnie Brown!

Purim and a Parade of Volunteers

by Camille Kauffunger

Most Mid Coast Mainers are grateful "dressing up" for synagogue, means wearing a nicer shirt with Carhartts or your best denim. When asked to dress up for Purim, however, Beth Israel members and friends are stars! If you missed Rabbi Vinikoor in her pajamas or this year's entertaining rendition of the Megillah reading, staring the Rabbi, Robert Gersh, Peggy Brown, Rosa Ergas, Max Ergas, Laura McCandlish, and TInker Hannaford, definitely watch for our promotion of Purim activities next year, and make note to attend or volunteer.

In addition to an amusing Megillah reading, our Purim celebration included a costume parade to the Minnie Brown for pizza, home-made hamantaschen, carnival games, face painting, helium balloons and prizes, all organized and executed by a generous Purim team of volunteers, including Susan Horowitz, Robert Gersh, Rachel Connelly, Peggy Brown, Marilyn and Fred Weinberg, Julie Meyer, Jason Lou, students of the Bowdoin College Hillel and more. There's no doubt, our Purim party was a big team effort and a great success!

Hebrew School Students Welcome In Shabbat

by Camille Kauffunger

As a member or friend of our intimate Beth Israel community, you may find yourself dancing with the Torah during Simchat Torah, rolling Torah back to Genesis, lighting the Shabbat candles to begin Friday Evening Service, or other tasks and activities that offer the chance to connect to ritual, history and Jewish spirituality more fully. Most definitely, as parents of children in the Beth Israel Hebrew School, you will have the proud occasion of seeing your young student(s) on the bimah leading an entire Friday Evening Shabbat Service, as our Hebrew school students accomplished on March 23.

Students began preparing for the job of delivering Shabbat service in January, first with Morah Alina and Substitute School Director Marilyn Weinberg, and later with Rabbi Vinikoor. Our wise teachers took full advantage of this experiential learning objective by building in opportunities for students to select their prayers and English readings, assigning older students the leadership role of teaching younger students the blessings, and even sending the sounds of Shabbat home. So students could practice, Rabbi Vinikoor emailed families the links to the Shabbat songs the children were learning in school and sent personalized emails to older students with individual recordings of her reading the blessings or singing the prayers.

In our household, this approach and direct communication from the Rabbi gave my two students a feeling of importance and an increased confidence in their service roles. It introduced Shabbat prayers into our interfaith home, and we frequently found ourselves spontaneously humming and singing prayers during the days leading up to the service. As a parent new to synagogue life, I was learning along with my children and getting more comfortable too!

A parent and new Beth Israel member recently shared that at her previous synagogue, the Hebrew school didn't mix with the rest of the congregation, and children were discouraged from being seen or heard at synagogue gatherings. At Beth Israel we value the involvement of young families and want our children, like all our congregants, to feel an emotional connection to Judaism and a sense of ownership and pride toward our synagogue community. These feelings were present in March as our students bravely took to the bimah to demonstrate their learning and welcome in Shabbat for a sanctuary full of encouraging faces.

Mark June 1 on your calendar for the next student-led Shabbat service. Hopefully Beth Israel Hebrew School parent Andrew Lardie will return with his guitar. Regardless of age or whether you have a student in the school, you won't regret sharing in the learning of our young Beth Israel leaders.

Remembrances for May-June 2018

May their memories be for a blessing

WE REMEMBER Hebrew Date Calendar Date (2018)
Hilda Blaker Kempler 16 Iyyar May 1
Lucille Hershenhart 19 Iyyar May 4
Rose Millstein 19 Iyyar May 4
Seymour Pfefersteinh 25 Iyyar May 10
Ida Gersh 27 Iyyar May 12
Edward Kravitz 1 Sivan May 15
Bruce Louis Pfeferstein 4 Sivan May 18
Asher Pfeferstein 7 Sivan May 21
Sam Shapiro 8 Sivan May 22
Roslyn Fuerman 9 Sivan May 23
Dr. Rose Goldberg 9 Sivan May 23
Victor Shapiro 11 Sivan May 25
Nicholas Giulianti 12 Sivan May 26
Robert Libner 14 Sivan May 28
Edward Friedland 15 Sivan May 29
Marion Darack 18 Sivan June 1
Frederic Morganstern 18 Sivan June 1
Donald Povich 19 Sivan June 2
Joan Greenwald 21 Sivan June 4
David Raker 23 Sivan June 6
Phillip Lurie 27 Sivan June 10
Harry Goldstein 27 Sivan June 10
Bertyl Metz 29 Sivan June 12
Celia Lurie 2 Tammuz June 15
Jean Malman Becker 3 Tammuz June 16
Rose Popper Roman 6 Tammuz June 19
Mary Petlock 10 Tammuz June 23
Dr. Morris Goldberg 11 Tammuz June 24
Joseph Stendig 11 Tammuz June 24
Alice C. Meyer Tammuz June 26

Birthdays and Anniversaries

May Birthdays May Anniversaries
1 Bob Nusbaum   10 Barbara & Barrett Silver
6 Daniel Giulianti   18 Rabbi Lisa Vinikoor & Alyssa Finn
9 Stephen Singer   21 John & Marilyn Darack
12 Connie Povich   22 Rosa Ergas & Steven Baer
12 Rachel Schoenberg   23 Pauline & Erich Haller
15 Denise Tepler   25 Barbara & Robert Lenox
17 Peggy Brown   27 Susan Horowitz & Robert Gersh
17 Jacob Kaplan   29 Mara & Donny Giulianti
18 Heather Gilman-Davis   29 Martin & Betty Welt
19 Ruth Benedikt   31 Beth & Benet Pols
20 Arthur Davis      
31 Marilyn Darack      


June Birthdays June Anniversaries
1 Lenore Friedland   1 Susan Kamin & Ben Crystal
3 Mara Giulianti   6 Todd & Teresa Gandler
7 Rosa Ergas   7 Marilyn & Fred Weinberg
5 Katherine Bouttenot   7 Peggy Brown & John Martell
8 David Povich   14 Karen & Matt Filler
9 Paul Linet   14 David & Connie Povich
16 Isabella Pols   18 Katherine & Rachel Bouttenot
19 Theodore Stone   18 Richard Monica & Gordon Blatt
25 Rachel Tefft   19 Richard Jablow & Anne Hebebrand
28 Rea Turet   21 Denise & Sheldon Tepler
      22 Christina & Andrew Schoenberg


Memorial Gifts
  • Margaret Brann in loving memory of her mother, Ruth Charney
  • Jon and Lorna Lichter in loving memory of his father, David Lichter
  • Paul Linet and Jackie Soley in loving memory of Bunny Samiljan
  • Lynn Frank in loving memory of her father, Dean Milkes and her sister, Cheryl Milkes
  • Karen and Matthew Filler in loving memory of her father, Gerald Feldman
  • Erich and Pauline Haller in loving memory of his father, Edward Haller
  • Richard Jablow and Anne Hebebrand in loving memory of his parents, Norman and Carol Jablow
  • Suzanne and Robert Nusbaum in loving memory of her mother, Virginia King
  • Ellen Hagler in loving memory of her mother, Sarah Goldman
  • Donald and Mara Giulianti in loving memory of his mother, Elaine Giulianti
  • Shelia Cohen in loving memory of her mother, Helen Freedman Cohen
  • Barbara and Robert Lenox in loving memory of her father, Mishael Selig and her brother, Edward Selig
  • Erich and Pauline Haller in loving memory of his grandparents, Josef and Marie Haller
  • Peggy Brown and John Martell in loving memory of her grandmother, Sonia Wernick
  • Robert Gersh and Susan Horowitz in loving memory of his father, Fred Gersh
  • Winnie Silverman in loving memory of her sister, Elaine Leighton
  • Micki Gersh in loving memory of her husband, Fred Gersh, her sister, Ellen Leavy and her father-in-law, Benjamin Gersh
  • Matthew and Karen Filler in loving memory of his parents, Morris and Gladys Filler
  • Shari Sage in loving memory of her parents, Rita and Seymour Pepper and her brothers, Bruce and Asher Pepper
  • Stanley Lane and Norma Dreyfus in loving memory of his father, Jesse Lane
  • Marc and Crissy Swartz in loving memory of is father, Albert Swartz
  • Peggy Brown and John Martell in memory of her father, Harold Hershenbart
  • Robert and Barbara Lenox in loving memory of his mother, Mildred Lenox
  • Stephen and Barbara Baseman in loving memory of his father, Isadore Baseman
  • Marcia and Leonard Klompus in loving memory of her son, Jeffrey Robert Cherner
  • Andrew and Chris Schoenberg in loving memory of their parents, Elayne Schoenberg and Doris Leonard
  • Marilyn and Fred Weinberg in memory of Michael Hagler
  • Lenore and Jay Friedland in memory of Michael Hagler
  • Karen and Matt Filler in memory of Michael Hagler
Building Fund
  • Robert Vinikoor
In Support of the Synagogue
  • Shelia Lucente
In Support of the Hebrew School
  • Marilyn and Fred Weinberg
  • Pauline and Erich Haller