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Beth Israel Congregation


Beth Israel Congregation Newsletter

November/December 2017
Heshvan / Kislev / Tevet 5778

Rabbi's Message
President's Message
Ladies' Dine Around
We Need a Projector
Upcoming Services and Programs at Beth Israel
Special PJ Library Tot Shabbat Program on November 4
Community Chanukah Party
Hanukkah and Judaica Sale
Christmas Dinner for the Tedford Shelter
Mid Coast Hunger Prevention
Midcoast New Mainers Support Group Seeks Housing for Refugees
Building Committee Report
Simchat Torah Service
Progressive Sukkot Celebration
News from the Hebrew School
Remembrances for November-December 2017
Birthdays and Anniversaries
Welcome New Members

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

A few days ago, I had the privilege of representing our congregation, at a convening of clergy at the Gathering Place in Brunswick. The organization, founded in 2011, today provides people who are homeless or poor with daytime shelter, friendship and confidence. The Gathering Place does not provide what we might typically assume are services offered at a shelter: hot meals, clothing or healthcare. Instead, they offer things that people who are homeless may struggle to experience: compassion, dignity and community. When a person walks out of the Gathering Place, they don't leave with a new jacket or a basket of food but instead they leave with energy and hope. The sixty committed volunteers who serve at the Gathering Place donate through the spiritual practice of being present. These volunteers "fill lonely daytime hours with positive energy, respect, and possibility." I am inspired by the work of this organization and wanted to share it with you all. If you are interested in learning more, go to their website at

The value of creating a welcoming space for people to gather is attributed to our ancient ancestors Abraham and Sarah. In early November we'll read parashat Vayera. There, in Genesis 18, we'll learn the story Abraham and Sarah who welcomed three travelers into their tent. According to the ancient rabbis, Abraham sat at the entrance of his tent, despite the heat of the day, in order to see passersby and welcome them in. When Abraham sees the three men he encourages them to come inside and Sarah prepares a meal. Abraham and Sarah are considered exemplars of the Jewish value hachnasat orchim-welcoming guests.

Whether it is welcoming guests and being present for others, or giving our time and energy to people who are poor or homeless, my prayer is that during this bit of downtime between the High Holidays and Chanukah, we have the opportunity to take the values and ideas that we pray about and make them a reality. Since we are not in shul praying and fasting, we can be out in the world, working for justice, seeking peace and building our community.

Rabbi Vinikoor

President's Message

by Marilyn Weinberg

The fall holiday season is now over, and I am thankful for the lovely memories that all of these celebrations leave with us. I look back and I am amazed at all the absolutely wonderful and meaningful celebrations we enjoyed together. Yet, as the holiday-packed weeks recede, we welcome the holiday-starved month of Heshvan in its place. Heshvan is the only month of the Jewish year completely devoid of holidays or fast days. Some have called it "Sad Heshvan" from its dearth of celebrations, but I prefer to call it "take a deep breath month" to take time to reflect on our pathway ahead.

The board has decided to use this time to set up some new committees to look at our policies and examine current guidelines. We have set up four new committees. Our most important one will examine our financial challenges and strategies. We are also organizing a group to look into social action and community engagement options. We will be updating our Bar Mitzvah guidelines and are even reviewing our cemetery by-laws. Once these groups develop new goals and guidelines, we will organize a community wide event to share our information and proposals and get your input.

Meanwhile, we still have many lovely Shabbat services to participate in and programs to plan. We welcome your thoughts and contributions.

Part of what we learn every year during the holiday season is how wonderful it is to be together. Let's hope for a year filled with joy and fulfillment as we celebrate and gather together during the year.

Ladies' Dine Around

by Crissy Swartz
All are welcome to join in.

Date: Wednesday, November 15
Time: 6:00 p.m

Place: Frontier Restaurant
Fort Andross
14 Maine Street
Brunswick, Maine
(207) 725-5222

Please RSVP Crissy Swartz by Tuesday, November 14.
Final head count needs to be phoned in.

We Need a Projector

by Marilyn Weinberg

The Chai committee would love to sponsor some films throughout the year. And the Hebrew School has access to films, but no way to show them. We need a projector and a screen that would work in a large room. If you have one to donate or would like to contribute towards one please let us know. It would be used by multiple groups and provide many options for programs and activities for all.

Upcoming Services and Programs at Beth Israel


Saturday, November 4 from 10:00-10:45 am
Tot Shabbat
Led by Rachel Connelly
Minnie Brown Center

Friday, November 10 at 7:00 pm
Shabbat Evening Service
Oneg: Swartz Family
Led by Rabbi Lisa Vinikoor

Saturday, November 11 at 10:00 am
Shabbat Morning Service and Torah Study

Friday, November 17 at 7:00 pm
Shabbat Evening Service
Led by Rabbi Lisa Vinikoor
Oneg: Isaacson Family

Saturday, November 18 at 10:00 am
Shabbat Morning Service and Torah Study


Friday, December 1 at 7:00 pm
Shabbat Evening Service
Oneg: Hebebrand-Jablow Family
Led by Rabbi Lisa Vinikoor

Saturday, December 2 at 10:00 am
Shabbat Morning Service and Torah Study

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

Friday, December 15 at 7:00 pm
Shabbat Evening Service
Oneg: Schoenberg Family
Led by Rabbi Lisa Vinikoor

Saturday, December 16 at 10:00 am
Shabbat Morning Service and Torah Study

Saturday, December 17 from 3:00-5:00 pm
Community Hanukkah Party
Minnie Brown Center

Special PJ Library Tot Shabbat Program on November 4

by Rachel Connelly

On November 6, Andrea Krasker Gavin, the Jewish Family and PJ Library Program Coordinator of the JCA of Southern Maine, will be joining us for our monthly Tot Shabbat program. Andrea will bring enrollment forms for PJ library with her and will talk to parents about the PJ Library resources while also sharing books and crafts with the little ones. I will be on hand as well as will Rabbi Vinikoor.

The theme for the program will be "Welcoming the Stranger" as Abraham and Sarah did to the three strangers who came to call. (We are in the neighborhood of that parsha in early November.) One of the many ways children can relate to our honoring the Sabbath is to observe that we often welcome guests to our Sabbath meal tables. In keeping with this theme it would be great if families could bring one food staple to donate to the JCA food pantry.

PJ Library is a national program, administered on the local level, to bring books with Jewish content into the homes of parents and grandparents of Jewish children. The kids love receiving books in the mail every month and the parents (and grandparents) enjoy that they are free. PJ Library also offers small grants to Jewish parents to bring children together in fun ways. We were the beneficiaries of this program last summer thanks to the work of Anita Lichman and Camille Kauffunger. You can read more about PJ Library at or at

Tot Shabbat is a monthly program at Beth Israel, usually the first Shabbat of the month. We meet from 10:00–10:45 a.m. in the basement of Minnie Brown. No sign up is needed. Come every month or once in a while. The program is aimed at children ages two to four but younger and older children are also welcome. The program is low-key with time to play, sing, eat and make a mess.

Tot Shabbat Dates for the rest of the Academic Year:
November 4
December 2
January 6
February 3
March 3
April 7
May 5
June 2

Community Hanukkah Party

by Marilyn Weinberg

Sunday December 17
3:00 p.m.
Minnie Brown Center

It's been so mild it's hard to believe that Chanukah is not that far away. Please join us for latkes, games, music and candle lighting as we celebrate Chanukah together.

We will start the festivities with delicious potato latkes made by Donnie Spiegelman Boyd and her frying team. You can bring a salad to go along. The celebration will be on the 6th day of Chanukah so we will be lighting the six candles together. Bring your menorah and candles. The stage will be glowing bright!

We look forward to seeing you.

Hanukkah and Judaica Sale

by Marilyn Weinberg

We have two opportunities coming up to do some Hanukkah shopping.

Hanukkah Store

The Synagogue HANUKKAH STORE will be open Thursday, November 16, 30 and December 7 during Hebrew School hours (4:00-6:00 p.m.) at the Minnie Brown Center.

This is an opportunity to buy wrapping paper, bags, dreidles, candles, decorations, chocolate gelt, and games for the holiday.

If you have special requests, please call Crissy Swartz.

Judaica Sale

There will also be a JUDAICA SALE on Saturday December 2 from 4:00-6:00 pm beginning with Havdallah and potluck cold snacks.

There will be original art, books, candlesticks, jewelry, and Jewish symbols in everyday objects. Consider contributing some Judaica you might have at home that you are not using. 60% of the money goes to the Synagogue.

This will be held at the Greenhut Studio (short end of Fort Andross - go up one flight over the flea market.) All parking spaces are open on the weekend.

Drop off donations Wednesdays at 11:30 am or call Marji for an individual time.

Christmas Dinner for the Tedford Shelter

by Joanne Rosenthal

As in previous years, Beth Israel will provide Christmas dinner on Monday, December 25 for the guests staying at the Tedford Homeless Shelter in Brunswick.

Early in December we will be sending out a menu on SignUpGenius where you can sign up for what you would like to bring. The guests and staff of Tedford really appreciate the delicious home cooked foods provided. If you want to participate but driving to Brunswick is not convenient, we will work with you to coordinate with folks who can make the delivery. If you have any questions beforehand, please call Joanne Rosenthal.

Mid Coast Hunger Prevention

by Jill Standish

I would like to thank Chris Schoenberg, Debbie and Kermit Smyth, Karen Totman, Lynn Frank, Bill Kohut, Marty and Thyle Fox, Peggy Brown, Susan Horowitz Jeffrey Cohen and various family members for keeping our Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Project going. I think we are one of the longest lasting groups to contribute volunteer labor.

This is a project that takes 45 minutes once every two months. It is simple and directly benefits people who are hungry. We would love to have your volunteer help at Midcoast Hunger Prevention Project. This is a good time of year for thinking of Tikkun Olam. I really thought about it during Yom Kippur, and I'm very grateful that I don't have to be hungry.

We roll boxes of food from Hannafords in Brunswick to Midcoast Hunger Prevention Project right across the street. Then we store and label the boxes in the soup kitchen facility. Lastly, we record how much we have of each box. Volunteers need to be in reasonably good shape as the carts are heavy to push. I am happy to teach new help how to do the job.

Please consider volunteering your services.

Jill Standish

Midcoast New Mainers Support Group Seeks Housing for Refugees

by Joanne Rosenthal

You may recall that Beth Israel is part of an interfaith group whose purpose is to provide resettlement support to asylum seekers and refugees in the Midcoast area.

Three families are currently being resettled in Bath, with the possibility—and hope that more will be able to relocate here. Many of these families are currently homeless due to a lack of affordable and available housing in Portland. We are reaching out to the Beth Israel community to ask if you or someone you know has a rental unit that could be made available for a single person, a small family, or a larger family. Any potential tenant has funding for a deposit and the ability to pay reasonable rent. Some have been granted the right to work, while others are still in process.

Among the people in need of housing recently were: a single woman from Burkina Faso, a single woman with two children from Burkina Faso, another single woman with two children from Burkina Faso, a woman with a 30-year-old son with disabilities from Burundi, and a large family of two parents and five older children from Burundi.

As families begin to arrive additional opportunities will include person-to-person friendship connections, mentoring, transportation, furniture collection and other needs as they arise. For more information, please contact Joanne Rosenthal. The Midcoast New Mainers Support Group is in partnership with the Brunswick Area Interfaith Council, a 501(c)(3) organization.

Building Committee Report

by Marty Fox

The Annual Clean Up Day before the High Holidays was a success, with much cleaning done. The central room in the Hebrew School was painted a nice blue. So many of you came to help. Thanks to all of you and special thanks to Todd Gandler for organizing the event for the third year in a row.

Some important building projects have also been completed.

  1. A new Synagogue door has been installed, and the locking mechanism has been repaired. In addition insulation was installed around the doors. The door now opens from the left side.
  2. Two rotten Synagogue basement sills have been replaced and insulation around the windows was added.
  3. A new door with a window has been installed in the Rabbi's office.

Funding is still needed for the Minnie Brown master plan including a handicapped bathroom and redesign of Hebrew School classrooms.

Simchat Torah Service

by Marilyn Weinberg

An enthusiastic crowd of adults and children led by Rabbi Vinikoor and Abby Halpern enjoyed a fun time at Simchat Torah services on October 12.

After singing and dancing with the Torahs upstairs and downstairs, leaving some of us slightly out of breath, everyone was able to have an Aliyah during the Torah readings. We learned some new tunes and new dances and enjoyed pizza and sweet treats together. It truly was a joyful holiday celebration.

Progressive Sukkot Celebration

by Marilyn Weinberg

With the rain pouring down we sadly had to change our venue for our Progressive Sukkot Celebration. Yet, Beth Israel members rallied and brought their appetizers, soups and breads and yummy desserts to the Minnie Brown Center where we mingled and chatted with friends broke bread, sipped soup, and enjoyed each other's company.

The good news is that the rain stopped with enough time for us to go out to the Hebrew School Sukkah and say the blessings together. Everybody had an opportunity to shake the lulav and etrog in the sukkah. it truly was a joyous time. And of course the desserts everybody brought were sweet as well. Thank you to all of our Beth Israel families who brought delicious food to share, Next year the sun will shine.

News from the Hebrew School

by Abby Halpern

At Hebrew School we have all been enjoying the usual flurry of activity surrounding the High Holidays, Sukkot, and Simchat Torah. We kicked off the year with a family activity to discuss family goals and Hebrew school goals. It was very busy but enjoyable to get to know all of our new families. For Rosh Hashana, students in all grades enjoyed making new year's cards (practicing their Hebrew writing), braiding round challah, and a Hebrew "cakewalk" game. We had quite a few students blow the shofar successfully!

Our Sukkot and Simchat Torah celebrations both included skits by the older students (grades 3-6) about the meanings of the blessings and prayers we say for those holidays. This was their opportunity not only to learn, but also to teach the younger students and model the blessings. On Simchat Torah I was very proud of how our students participated in the service and festivities. It was a lot of fun to have young and old celebrating together.

Please follow Beth Israel Congregation - Bath Maine on Facebook to see the latest events as well as photos of student work and activities

Remembrances for September-October 2017

We know we are missing many names from this list. Please send them to us so that we can add your loved ones to this list.

May their memories be for a blessing

WE REMEMBER Hebrew Date Calendar Date (2017)
Minnie Brown Heshvan 14 November 3
Abaham Travers Heshvan 15 November 4
Selma Shapiro Blatt Heshvan 16 November 5
Isadore Singer Heshvan 16 November 5
Nettie Friedland Heshvan 19 November 8
Esther Itzkowitz Heshvan 25 November 14
Isidore Panish Heshvan 25 November 14
Ida Krassner Heshvan 29 November 18
Irving Benjamin Isaacson Heshvan 29 November 18
Judith Krasner Kislev 2 November 20
Esther Friedman Kislev 4 November 22
Arthur B. Levitt Kislev 5 November 23
Sidney Lasher Kislev 6 November 24
George Schoenberg Kislev 10 November 28
Sylvia Greenberg Kislev 11 November 29
Samuel B. Becker Kislev 11 November 29
Samuel Soifer Kislev 16 December 4
Sophie Stendig Kislev 19 December 7
Lillian Goldstein Kislev 22 December 10
Hans Meissner Kislev 22 December 10
Morris Greenberg Kislev 24 December 12
Hershel Stendig Kislev 28 December 16
Theresa Lobis Tevet 1 December 19
Myrtle Leavy Tevet 5 December 23
Benjamin Kaplan Tevet 5 December 23
Morris Torow Tevet 6 December 24
Irving Weisman Tevet 10 December 28
Solomon Wernick Tevet 13 December 31
Fanny Panish Mutterperl Tevet 13 December 31
Morris Petlock Tevet 13 December 31

Birthdays and Anniversaries

November Birthdays November Anniversaries
2 Gordon Blatt   2 Cristina & Stacey Giulianti
10 Rachel Clegg      
11 Judy Wolfe      
15 Alva Gandler      
16 Larry Loeb      
18 Eli Schoenberg      
21 Joan Fields      
21 Kathy Reissmann      
25 Laura McCandish      
25 Erich Haller      
27 Rabbi Lisa Vinikoor      


December Birthdays December Anniversaries
2 Bob Lobis   15 Joan & Jeremy Fields
2 Jennifer Kaplan      
6 Todd Gandler      
7 Nicholas Hagler      
13 Karen Filler      
14 Sarah Meyer-Waldo      
19 Marty Welt      
31 Christine Giulianti      

Welcome New Members

  • Alan Mayer and Patricia Brennan
  • Ralph and Joanna Jacobs
  • Kenneth Rosen and Ellen Kempler
  • Marty and Betty Welt
  • Lisi-D'Alauro Family


Building Fund
  • Marty Fox and Thyle Sharter
Hebrew School Scholarship Fund
  • Marcia and Leonard Klompus in loving memory of Jeffrey Robert Cherner
  • Helen and Elliot Lerner in loving memory of Jeffrey Robert Cherner
  • Marilyn and Fred Weinberg
  • Robert Vinikoor
  • Shelia Lucente
  • Kenneth and Ellen Kempler Rosen
In Support of the Synagogue
  • Brenda and Peter Jon Fides
  • Charles Newman
  • Jane Levison
  • Paul Linet
  • Joshua Waletzky
  • Mitchell Hollander
Rabbi Fund
  • Norma Dreyfus and Stan Lane
  • Barrett and Barbara Silver
  • Chris and Andy Schoenberg in honor of Fred and Marilyn Weinberg
  • Susan and David Kertzer in honor of Rabbi Simeon Maslin
  • Susan Jablow McMillan
Rabbi Discretionary Fund
  • Richard and Debra Finn in honor of Rabbi Vinikoor's first High Holiday Services
High Holiday Flowers
  • Erich and Pauline Haller in honor of Rabbi Vinikoor
  • Matt and Karen Filler in honor of their parents, Gerald and Frances Feldman and Morris and Gladys Filler
  • Robert and Barbara Lenox in honor of their grandsons, Zachery and Jaydon Bronstein
  • Sharon Drake in honor of her grandmother, Lizzie Kravitz
  • Larry Loeb and Linda Silberstein
  • Shelia Cohen in loving memory of Sarah Cohen
  • Donny and Mara Giuilianti in honor of Rabbi Vinikoor
  • Barbara and Barret Silver in loving memory of Jean, Sam and Robert Becker and Rose and Milton Silver
  • Thyle Shartar and Marty Fox in loving memory of Sarah and Harry Shartar and Thelma and Max Fox
  • Stephen and Barbara Baseman
Memorial Gifts
  • Jeremy and Joan Fields in loving memory of his mother, Ruth Fields
  • Judith Rosner in loving memory of her parents, Gertrude and Francis Rosner
  • Judith Weisman in loving memory of her mother, Dorothy Gross
  • Marina and Stephen Singer in loving memory of her mother, Henrietta Shapiro
  • Micki Gersh in loving memory of her father, Harold Leavy
  • Adelle Rubin in loving memory of her parents, Harold and Dorothy Rubin and her brother, Peter Rubin
  • Doris Weinberg in loving memory of her husband, Miles Weinberg
  • Marcia and Leonard Klompus in loving memory of her mother, Dorice Mensh
  • Michael and Alexandra Gissin in loving memory of Sophia Tsitsarko
  • Richard Smith in loving memory of his mother, Sara Smith
  • Leonre and Jay Friedland in loving memory of her father, Israel Itzkowitz