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Beth Israel Congregation


Beth Israel Congregation Newsletter

November/December 2003
Heshvan/Kislev/Tevet 5764

Why Give?
Community Chanukah Party
Family Holiday Workshops
Beth Israel Gift Shop
Hebrew School Tzedakah
Todah Rabbah
News from the Hebrew School

Why Give?

As I greeted so many friends and acquaintances during our recent series of holiday activities and programs I became re-committed to the importance of keeping our synagogue and Jewish community alive and active.

After our appeal for funds during the High Holiday services, a member came up and asked me why we were "running a deficit." They thought we had an abundance of money since we had received the very generous Minnie Brown bequest. I thought this was a legitimate concern that should be responded to publicly.

Minnie Brown's generosity allowed us to purchase our new cemetery as well as the building at 906 Washington St. that now houses our Hebrew school and serves as a function space for our congregation. These costs, along with extra capital expenses (furnace, roof, windows), have used up more than half of the gift. In addition, our beautiful but aging synagogue continues to require constant repair and maintenance. If we continue to use the bequest as we have been doing, it will only last a few more years and we will be left with no savings or safety net to fall back on in case of an emergency.

To ensure our long term sustainability, we must determine a way to augment our current income and donations. We do not want to cut back on services and programs, when our Hebrew school is thriving and people are enjoying our regular services. The option of raising dues exists, but we would prefer to keep them stable and ask those who are able to make additional donations. We must find some supplementary sources of money.

The board will be establishing a fundraising committee that will have multiple functions. Their job will be to seek out different sources of contributions, search for and write grants and organize other community fundraising activities. As you can see this will require a diverse group of people with different interest and skills. If you have any background or interest in any of these fundraising activities, please contact me or any other board member. Your commitment will make a difference to the future of our congregation.


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Community Chanukah Party

We will be having a community Chanukah party Saturday evening, December 20. We will gather together for a pot luck dinner, candle lighting, and have an opportunity to hear the southern Maine Jewish Youth Chorus. Several members are from our own congregation. We will send you more detailed information when the plans are complete.

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Family Holiday Workshops

On Sunday, November 16 from 10:00 am - 12:00 pm at the Minnie Brown Center. Family Workshop on Shabbat. We will bake challah, read stories, sing songs and do crafts.

On Sunday, December 14 from 10:00 am - 12:00 pm at the Minnie Brown Center. Family workshop on Chanukah. Learn how to make Soofganyiot, make Chanukah cards, play dreidle and other fun activities.

If you would like to attend our family holiday workshops please leave your name at the Hebrew School or e-mail or call Marilyn Weinberg to reserve a space.

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Beth Israel Gift Shop

New items have been ordered and are in the gift shop showcase. We now have some children's games and toys, jewelry, mezuzahs for our cars as well as our homes, "shalom" welcome mats like the one that was at the door during the holidays, Kiddush cups, tallis bags and other assorted Judaica. I will be leaving a few catalogs on the showcase for people to look at and have me order for them.

However these catalogs need to stay on the showcase. If you would like to order any specialty item, please email or call Marina Singer. When you order through the Synagogue Gift Shop you help support the Synagogue. Keep in mind that Chanukah is fast approaching. Let me know the types of items you would like to see ordered, and if you need dreidles or chocolate coins let me know so that I can order whatever you need.

Marina Singer

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Hebrew School Tzedakah

Tzedakah money collected from Hebrew school students for the year 2002-2003 has been donated to two worthy causes, one local and one with a global focus. Jewish Family Services, a program of the Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine, has sent a "sincere thank-you to the Hebrew School for their donation to our social service program." Seeds of Peace replies, "on behalf of over 2,500 Seeds graduates, our Board of Directors and our staff in the U.S. and Jerusalem.... (we)... offer you....(our)... deepest gratitude for your support that sustains us through this time."

Roberta Brezinski

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Todah Rabbah

Todah Rabbah...
...for donations to Beth Israel Congregation:

Jean A. Guthery in honor of Bat Mitzvah of Emma Morgenstern
Morganstern-Moser in honor of Bat Mitzvah of Emma Morgenstern
Jay & Lenore Friedland in memory of aunt Adele Davis

In Memory of Sarah Greenblatt:
Carol & Leslie Ziegler
Dr. & Mrs. Greenblatt
Harriet Greenblatt
Daniel Aret Poulos
Barry & Adele Faber
Robert & Dorothy Levine
Bonnie S. Palmer
Literary Ladies of Lyseth Elementary School
Lyseth Elem School, Sunshine Fund
Marilyn and Fred Weinberg

For High Holiday Flowers:
Carolyn Turcio-Gilman
Maurie Libner
Steve and Marina Singer
Sylvia Katz
Janice Povich
Walter & Rita Rubin

Other Donations:
Martin & Betty Welt
D.N. and Fletcher Pam Israel
Karen & Matthew Filler
Norman & Marla Fienman
Dan & Susan Levey for Cantor Leeman's discretionary fund
Dr. Edward F. Sugarman
Carolyn Turcio-Gilman
Sharon Drake

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News from the Hebrew School

News from the Hebrew School

Hebrew school began on Wednesday, September 10th with much energy and excitement. Half our time is used for Judaica instruction and half for Hebrew instruction. Before dividing out into classes, our entire school assembles for prayer. Each child is becoming more and more familiar with the afternoon (mincha) service.

Besides the classroom instruction, the children have had an opportunity to watch a rams horn actually made into a shofar. They have built and decorated a beautiful sukkah, and have had an opportunity to dance around the shul carrying a Torah during the Simchat Torah celebration.

Our Gan/Pre-k class, which meets on the first Wednesday afternoon of each month, had a wonderful start with over 14 kids in the 3-5 year old range. The kids enjoyed stories, crafts and fun. They even made their own challah. The next class will be on November 5th.

Our many thanks go to those parents who have already been so involved and helpful with so many of the extras we normally take for granted. Helping to organize classes, providing snacks weekly for the kids, building the sukkah, providing treats for the kids after the Simchat Torah service are just a few of the many extras we appreciate. Those parents who stay during the prayer service or help with the Gan/Pre-k group leave with nachas and joy at the excitement with which the kids begin their lessons. Our teachers are clearly capturing their attention and we all are grateful.

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. Our Vav class will lead on November 14th. This group includes Sumner Blatt, Allegra Boyd, Michael Brodsky, Rachel Clegg and Max Weiss. On December 12th, the Heh class will lead our Shabbat service. They are Morgan Boyd, David Brann, Michelle Brann, Stacia Brezinski, Patrick Connelly, Sam Franco, Emma Marks, George Mills, Ian Powell, Micaela Tepler and Sari Weiss. We are very excited about this, and hope that everyone in the congregation and school will be able to join us at these special services.

For anyone who is interested, there is a parent group that meets at 4:30 pm during Hebrew school, the first Wednesday of each month. The next meeting will be November 5th and anyone is welcome to join in at any time. We look forward to a year of learning and fun.

Barbara Leeman

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