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Beth Israel Congregation

   
 
 
 

Beth Israel Congregation Newsletter

May/June 2004
Iyar/Sivan/Tammuz 5764


President's Message
Cantor's Corner
Saturday Morning Services
Special Shavuot Service
Remember a Loved One with a Window
Lag B'Omer Picnic
Interfaith Council Social Justice Group
News from the Hebrew School
Honoring Our High School Students
Tzadaka Opportunity
Newsletter Editor Wanted

President's Message

So what are you doing on June 6th? Hopefully you will be joining us at the Beth Israel Congregation Annual Meeting. We have had a full year. Our Hebrew school is thriving and we have a summer filled with upcoming Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebrations. Services throughout the year have been interesting and varied with the children leading services and members sharing their personal experiences.

Yet we are still a small congregation trying to meet the needs of many people with different views of what it means to be Jewish and how a synagogue should function. How do we proceed? What should our priorities be? How do we raise the money to support all of our programs? The Annual Meeting is your opportunity to share your views and help shape our future direction. If you know of something you would like to change, be part of the solution. Come!

The Annual Meeting will be held on Sunday, June 6th at the Minnie Brown Center. Bagels, juice and coffee will be at 9:30 am. The meeting will begin at 10:00 am.

Marilyn


Cantor's Corner

Support Israel in her quest for peace. Israel is our homeland.

I trust everyone had a peaceful and good Passover holiday. I want to thank all who took part in making our Sedarim, both at the synagogue and our school, such lovely occasions.

Each year during Passover we linger over the concept of freedom. What is freedom? Does it mean that one can have the power to do anything one wants? No. It was and still is a gift from G-d. We have the power to abuse that gift or uphold it with gratitude day after day, year after year.

The purpose of Judaism is to bring goodness to our lives and to those around us. We learn and we observe in order to improve ourselves and our world.

Each year we remember the horror of the Holocaust around this time and we try our best to draw the lessons that we can glean from such an awesome tragedy. When the war ended both Jew and gentile, whether in the religious community or secular, joined together with a majority of nations around the world to call for a Jewish state. We, together with many others, created a homeland to shield and protect the Jews of all nations from the abuses we've endured through centuries of persecution and exile.

Israel was and still is our hope for a better world for all humankind. In the Israel National Anthem it reads "Leehiyot Am Hofshi B'artzeinuÉ., to be a free nation in our own landÉ." This was our dream come true.

Look what we've accomplished. We've cleared swamps and planted forests, we created agri-businesses and formed high-tech firms. We've developed all manner of value added export businesses that caused us prosper. We've built homes and roads, hospitals and schools, libraries and museums. Thousands of Jews from around the world found a haven and home in Israel. We made the desert bloom.

And yes we built an arsenal, a good one. Of this we should also be proud, despite its unfortunate necessity.

I was very concerned when the PA (Palestinian Authority) was formed. Land we won in bloody war was returned without shame in the hopes for a better neighbor. We gave the PA Gaza and Jericho, most of Hebron and dozens of cities throughout Judea and Samaria. We shared critical water sources all in the hopes of security and peace.

I've traveled to these places, looking forward to seeing progress at PA security training camps, hoping the hundreds of millions of dollars, delivered through international negotiations would help them build their infrastructure. I was hoping for real and reliable forces, roads, schools and hospitals, etc. Instead there was nothing. Nothing but embezzlement of public moneys, and more talk of stopping "the evil Israel oppression." The only new work seemed to be grade school curricula teaching hatred of Jews and the most damaging ways to launch suicide bombings. I don't believe in the wall, but would never presume to openly condemn its builders. Nevertheless, we must ask ourselves, have the Palestinians used their freedom wisely?

Yom Hazikaron is the day before Israel Independence Day. It provides us a chance to remember the men and women in Israeli uniform who have paid the ultimate price. They died in six different wars within 56 years to ensure our Jewish freedom in Israel. Their blood together with that of the six million is calling out to Jewish Americans who condemn Israeli leaders for their security policies.

I can only imagine how some of our neighbors would respond with tighter security, if it was their son or daughter killed at a check-point two miles from their home by some misguided teenager.

I beg you, as our current administration repeats regularly urging the leaders of the Middle East: SHOW RESTRAINT! You can surely exercise your political privilege in Israel with your feet. Get on a plane and support and defend her. While there you can fight about policy with the Knesset leaders all you want.

But when it comes to Jewish blood being spilled overseas, lets focus on helping keep our Jewish freedom alive. I can assure you the Holocaust victims paid the price for it and our Israeli pioneers and fallen soldiers earned it back for us. We in America have only lavished in the luxury of a great and peaceful nation. Let's show some compassion and gratitude for our freedom, both here and in Israel.

May we privileged to witness a time of peace and cooperation between Jews and Arabs, where each can live under his or her own vine and fig tree and raise a family in dignity and serenity.

Shalom
Cantor Daniel J. Leeman


Saturday Morning Services

I would like to make sure all of you are aware of our Saturday morning services. We have been drawing a regular group of participants to discuss the torah portion and interesting tidbits about the prayers, as well as the practice and meaning of Judaism in our lives. Cantor Leeman conducts a service that is very inclusive, welcoming and heimisch. Afterwards, thanks to Dick Garrity, we have usually been enjoying a nosh of bagels and lox, with our Kiddush. More congregants are enthusiastically encouraged to try us out and see if we can add some Jewish fellowship and spirituality to each other's lives.

Maurie Libner


Special Shavuot Service

Please join us on Thursday, May 27th from 9:30-11:30 am for a special service for Shavuot. Yiskor and the Torah reading will be followed by a light lunch of blintzes and sour cream.


Remember a Loved One with a Window

Plaques for the windows that were bought in the Minnie Brown Center are in the process of being ordered and will hopefully be up soon. There are still many windows available if you would like to make a donation and have a loved one remembered or honored. Each window is $1800. Checks can be sent to Rea Turet. You can contact Lenore Friedland with the information you would like on the plaque.


Lag B'Omer Picnic

We will be having a Lag B'Omer picnic on May 12th, at 6:00 pm, directly after Hebrew school. The picnic will be across the street from the Minnie Brown center, in the Patten Free Library park. The entire congregation is encouraged to join in. There will be approximately thirty minutes of games, and then we will enjoy a picnic following. Each family should bring a picnic for their own family, and desserts will be provided. Any questions, please call Campbell Clegg.

The "Omer" was the offering of new barley brought to the Temple on the second day of Passover. Fifty days separated the going out of Egypt from the giving of the Torah. We are commanded to count each day, preparing ourselves each day more than the day before, to be ready to receive the Torah anew.

Lag B'Omer is the 33rd day in the Omer counting period. "Lag" represents the combined numeric value of two Hebrew letters,"lamed" equals 30 and "gimel" equals 3. On this day the plague that had decimated Rabbi Akiva's disciples during the Second Century C.E. came to an end. This is a day of rejoicing.


Interfaith Council Social Justice Group

Ed Benedikt and I attended the Brunswick Area Interfaith Council. Ed is the treasurer. About ten churches of different denominations and the synagogue were represented. We went around the room each telling what social justice outreach each group did. Although I know members of the Beth Israel Congregation contribute money and time individually, as a synagogue we had little to report. Some churches helped support a number of the same initiatives like the Tedford Shelter, the food bank, Habitat for Humanity plus individual good works.

I suggest that we could also do some of these very easy things.

  • Every Shabbat bring food for the food kitchen to the synagogue and deliver it to the food bank when we have enough. All we need is a box in the entrance way.
  • As a synagogue donate to the Tedford Shelter. Yes Jews become homeless. Tedford is also developing a way to give very low interest loans to the needy. These loans will help people obtain enough money to give the necessary deposits on an apartment.
  • Collect blankets to bring to the 7th Day Adventist Center, which sends them to places facing a humanitarian crisis. They have the shipping and handling mechanism so we don't have to do it.
  • Join with the Methodist Church on Baileys Island to collect old pill bottles, and vitamin bottles. A box at our entrance hall is all that is needed. These are useful at clinics where drugs are dispensed.
  • Put notices in our newsletter of talks and activities at area churches that may be of interest to our members.

Some of these religious organizations are undertaking very impressive projects such as giving free medical care, mentoring Junior High and High School students, and sending members to other countries to help build clinics. Individuals from the synagogue could also participate in some of these or similar projects as representatives of our community. We are all, in a sense, ambassadors for Jews everywhere and it is important that our neighbors know us as the generous and charitable people we are.

Marji Greenhut and Ed Benedikt


News from the Hebrew School

      by Barbara Leeman

By the next bulletin, our school year will have ended. I for one, can not believe how fast it went. We have had a busy year so far, and we look forward to next year with our school growing in size. It was a nurturing time for Jewish learning and spirituality for the Beth Israel Hebrew school. In fact, it wasn't just the kids who were learning.

Purim Carnival a Success

For all who came to the Megillah reading and purim carnival, I know we can all agree that the spirit and enthusiasm with which our children joined in, made all the planning worth it. Our biggest thanks go to Chris Schoenberg, who spent much time planning and organizing the carnival and got many members involved. Cantor Daniel read the Megillah, engaged everyone in questions, and enthusiastically led us in joyful singing. The kids paraded in costume to the Minnie Brown Center where they had games, face painting, crafts, fortune telling, and refreshments. The kids and parents alike had shaloch manot exchanges and items were also collected for the Tedford shelter. The Wednesday right before the carnival, the kids made their own Hamentashen at Hebrew school. The Gan/Pre-K class was also with us that week, so flour was flying in every direction. Everyone enjoyed tasting their efforts. We thank all involved. It was a wonderful community effort.

Heh Class Purim Plays

Our fifth grade class created three different plays about Purim. They presented them to each other, and then the following week were able to give our parents a show. We applaud their creativity and enthusiasm. Many thanks to Rachel Connelly and to Rozi Eberhart for guiding them.

Aleph Class Shabbat Service

Our youngest class led us beautifully in our Shabbat service on March 19th. This class consists of Jacob Hagler, Elliot Pressman, Myles Silverman, and Sophie Sreden. Our Aleph class teacher is Tinker Hannaford who the kids adore. Even though we could barely see them over the podium, their sweet wonderful voices could be heard clearly. Many thanks for a job well done.

This is the last of our class Shabbat meal/services. There has been some interest in continuing these into April, May and beyond. Please call me if this is something you would like to participate in.

Special Guests and Speakers

In March/April we had many special guests/speakers to our school.

  • Rabbi Albert Leeman, Cantor Daniel's father, visited the school and gave the Vav and Daled class an opportunity to hear some new things about Passover.
  • Rozi Eberhart gave the school some insight into what a gathering of over 400 Jewish choral singing teenagers was like. She had an opportunity to attend the HaZamir Jewish choral festival in NY where Jewish teens from all over the world gathered to learn, and perform Jewish choral singing.
  • Tinker Hannaford also shared some of her experiences with the school, regarding her recent trip to England, and was able to tell the kids about some of the differences between Purim here and there.
  • Rabbi Moshe Wilansky ran a "matzah factory," where the kids were able to make and taste their own matzah. We enjoyed his stories as well.
  • Carl Boyd also spoke about opportunities within scouting for Jewish youths. He described some of the religious awards the scouts can earn.
  • Ed Benedikt came to share some of his experiences with the children in the older grades about his exposure to the Holocaust with Kindertransport, and how this has affected his life.
Substitutes

During March, we had a number of situations where our teachers were unable to be with us during Hebrew school. We are very grateful for those who were able to step in and help, sometimes at the very last minute. One of those substitutes, Karen Filler, an active member of Adas Yoshurun, and a wonderful friend, helped the Aleph class to review for the Aleph Shabbat service, as well as teach and prepare them for passover. Alina Shumsky took on more than her share of classes and involved some classes in translating the four questions as well as building a model of the second temple.

Passover Seder

On March 31st, our school began to get into the Passover mood by having a model Seder. Daniel led the seder, while each class participated with their own parts. There were many learning opportunities and we were able to go through much of the Hagaddah while having fun in the process. Special thanks to the teachers who always go above and beyond to make sure our children are learning and well cared for. What really impressed me was the amount of involvement from our school families. It was a wonderful joint effort. Roberta Brezinski and Deb Hagler came early to set up the room, flowers and all. The Mills family made a delicious charoset for the entire school and Debs' homemade macaroons finished our meal with sweetness. The Boyd, Brann, Lewis, Powell, Raker, Simmons and Winneg families also brought food, drinks and supplies for the seder, and all was very much appreciated. The list of families who helped to clean up is also VERY long. I know I didn't even see everyone who helped, but a HUGE thank you to all.

Yom Hashoah Observed

On Wednesday, April 14th, the grades 4-6 had a special memorial service to remember Yom Hashoah (Holocaust remembrance). Six candles were lit, one each for the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust. A film called "Maine Holocaust Survivors Remember" was shown and discussion followed. Ed Benedikt was also there to talk about some of his own experiences during these years and to answer some of the kids questions.

Coming soon, Israeli Dancing

On April 28th Marie Wendt will be teaching our students some traditional Israeli dance steps in honor of Yom Ha'Azmaut (Israel Independence day). Any parents, members or friends of the congregation eager to learn along with our children are welcome to attend. Grades 4-6 will be from 4:30-5:15 and grades 1-3 will be from 5:15-6:00.

Many Thanks

Peggy Brown and John Martell have on many occasions come to the aid of the school with many needed repairs and have also restocked needed supplies. The ease and good spirit with which they help is commendable and admirable. Our thanks go out to you both. Fred and Marilyn Weinberg and Rea Turet have been working consistently and tirelessly to make sure our school (and of course our synagogue) has whatever little needs arise. We are very grateful.

Join Our Parent Group

The next parent group meeting is at 4:30 pm on May 5th during Hebrew school at the Minnie Brown center. Anyone is welcome to join us.


Honoring Our High School Students

Please help us honor our graduating high school students. Before they go off to college, we will be presenting them with a special gift at the service on May 21st.


Tzadaka Opportunity

Please note this date. On May 8 the US Postal Service is sponsoring a food collection service for local needy families.

Canned food or other nonperishable food containers can be put next to your mailbox for pickup. This is an annual program and I urge everyone to not only participate but to also remind their friends.

Ed Benedikt


Newsletter Editor Wanted

Due to changes in my work responsibilities, it is becoming increasingly difficult for me to continue being newsletter editor. I am therefore requesting a volunteer to take over the job. It takes about four hours every two months, and requires that you have a computer and a word processor. Now that all copy is submitted electronically, it's really just a matter of copying and pasting the articles into a reasonably decent format and getting it to the printer. Lenore Friedland does the mailing.

If you are interested in becoming editor of the Beth Israel newsletter, please contact either Carolyn Turcio-Gilman or Marilyn Weinberg.

Carolyn Turcio-Gilman