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Beth Israel Congregation


Beth Israel Congregation Newsletter

January/February 2004
Tevet/Shevat/Nissan 5764

President's Column
Beth Israel Gift Shop
Special Speakers
Chanukah Celebration
Hebrew School Committee Minutes

President's Column

During the last month I had the opportunity to visit our Hebrew School in action. The children arrived filled with energy. After a snack they took their seats for the brief afternoon service that begins every session. Sitting with the children as they chanted the songs and prayers, I was filled with a sense of pride and admiration for their accomplishments. Although each child did not know every word, they sat and participated as if they did, putting their effort into it. Their voices were sweet. After the service they headed off to their respective classrooms and the large room was quiet. You could hear muffled voices behind the closed doors of each room as they began their lessons. There was real learning going on.

Later in the month I shared a potluck dinner with the children of one of the classes and their parents before they led their Friday night service. Parents blessed their children and hands were washed with the recitation of another blessing. After the meal we sang songs with enthusiasm before they raced upstairs to lead the service. They were amazing. English and Hebrew readings were read with great skill. They took their roles seriously and impressed us all. Again I was filled with a sense of pride with their accomplishments and attitude.

All of these endeavors could not happen without a great deal of effort on the part of the parents who take the time to drive the children back and forth as well as helping them with their lessons. Our teachers are outstanding. They put in many hours beyond the regular class time in their own study and in preparation for each class. They each bring a feeling of enthusiasm and love to the children. And finally, Barbara and Daniel Leeman have brought a sense of order and thoughtfulness to our school that is wonderful. Of course our children are the best. But it takes all of us to help them discover it within themselves. Thanks to all of you who make a difference to our children.


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Beth Israel Gift Shop

The Beth Israel Gift Shop has some interesting Judaica in stock, including memorial lights, jewelry, children's games, tallit bags, etc. Marina Singer, who is in charge of the gift shop, can easily order anything you might need.

Also, if you would like to put up a memorial plaque on the board at the back of the synagogue, please contact Marina and she will order it for you. The plaques cost $100 and Daniel Leeman takes care of writing out the Hebrew information for each plaque.

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Special Speakers

It is that time of year with the early darkness and the snowy weather that we want to stay home and curl up with a good book. Knowing that it is harder to get out in the winter we have come up with some special reasons to attend Friday night services. Of course the children's services are a great experience and something not to miss. In addition we have lined up some speakers for the next two months with the idea of expansion in the future. These will take the place of the regular "sermon."

On Friday evening, January 23, Rachel Connolly will speak on the topic of "The Jews of China." As you know Rachel and her family have spent a great deal of time traveling in and around China and they have observed a great deal over the years.

On Friday, February 6th, Peter Felsenthal will talk about the Jewish perspective on the environment. Since Tu Bishevat falls at this time, we thought this was an appropriate and timely topic.

And finally, on Friday, February 27, Reg Hannaford will share the story of the first Jewish Ghetto in Venice.

So mark your calendars. You will enjoy and join in with Daniel's beautiful chanting of the Friday night service as well as learn some new perspectives on some interesting topics.


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Chanukah Celebration

Thank you to the Southern Maine Youth Chorus for a wonderful Chanukah celebration on December 20th. The talent the young singers had was impressive. The only problem was that we did not want it to end. Special commendation and thanks to Roz Eberhart and Carl Boyd, our own teens, who traveled weekly down to Portland to attend practices. You were great.

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Beth Israel Hebrew School Committee Minutes

December 3, 2003

Members Present: Roberta Brezinski, Campbell Clegg, Barbara Leeman, and Terri Winneg

Others Present: Marilyn Weinberg

We discussed options for adding to the Chanukkah celebrations planned for December 17th. The Chai Committee has planned the evening as follows:

  • Havdalah
  • Menorah lighting
  • Maine Jewish Youth Chorus
  • Desserts for sale by choir parents
  • Dreidle & Chanukkah gelt for kids

It was decided instead to have a celebration Wednesday, the 17th during Hebrew school pending approval by the teachers. The school celebration will include songs (possibly with guitar accompaniment), a craft, and cookie decorating (cookies to be baked by committee members in advance). There will also be some class time.

Teacher's meeting, December 17 at 6:00 pm. Jill Standish will summarize The Jewish Educators' Conference she recently attended. Alena Shumsky will present information about positive discipline and learning style differences. Other agenda items include:

  • What's working and what isn't
  • Hands on ideas for the holidays
  • Staff changes
  • ThankyYou and good luck to Yaron Eisenberg who will spend his second semester in Israel and Sarah Pelz who has finished her Dartmouth Journalism internship and will be returning to school.

We welcomed a new Hebrew School family today. Rachel and Sarah Gallimore and their brother are the children of Laurie and Brad Gallimore of Brunswick.

Next meeting on January 7 at 4:30 pm at the Minnie Brown Center.

Minutes submitted by Roberta Brezinski

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