Beth Israel Congregation Newsletter
New Summer Hours for
Friday Night Services
Torah Scroll Covers - Please
Dike Newell School
News from the Hebrew
Mid-Coast Hunger Prevention
When I first attended High Holiday services at
Beth Israel in the fall of 1976, I met a wonderful
older gentleman (close to 90 years old). He was our
president Abe Kramer and had served in that
capacity for the previous 40 years! His job was to
find somebody to lead High Holiday services (no
easy feat) and run a yartzeit service when needed.
At that time there was a women's group that ran
rummage sales and held suppers to raise money that
was used by the men's group to spend on the upkeep
of the building. There was no board of directors
and no Hebrew school.
Our board is a fairly new institution at Beth
Israel. In our wisdom (or we might say the "Abe
Kramer clause") we have written a term limit into
our by-laws so that no one person has to feel
obligated to serve in a leadership role for more
than two terms. Each term lasts for three years. So
even though we have just lost some wonderful board
members in Nonny Soifer, Tinker Hannaford, Joanne
Rosenthal and Carolyn Gilman, we have gained four
very capable new board members. Peggy Brown, Dan
Levey, Irwin Brodsky and Stan Lane have all agreed
to volunteer their time to serve on the board for
the next three years. They each bring new ideas and
a fresh perspective on how we function.
As we approach the next few months please take
time to say thank you to those who have served on
the board and to communicate your ideas with the
present board members so we can try to make Beth
Israel serve the needs of all of our members. Abe
Kramer would be proud of what we have accomplished
in recent years.
New Summer Hours for Friday Night Services
Please note that the time for Friday night
services has been changed from 7:00 pm to 7:30 pm.
This will continue through the High Holidays with
the chance of continuing next year if the
congregation prefers the later time.
This fall, we will continue having speakers,
hopefully twice a month, starting in October. This
program has been very successful. If anyone would
like to speak on a subject they are comfortable
with, or could suggest someone, please call Lenore
The story of the revolt of Korah and his
followers is about true leadership. Korach poses as
a champion of the people and challenges Moses and
Aaron by accusing them of nepotism.
Moses is ultimately vindicated by the unusual
story of the earth opening up and swallowing Korach
and his followers. Aaron's leadership is also
divinely confirmed by the remarkable story of his
"staff" from the tribe of Levi flowering overnight,
while the other tribal staffs (belonging to the
other 11 princes of each tribe) did not.
The dramatic Divine intervention in these
stories is not as fascinating and beautiful to me
as the simple and refreshing answers of an
impeccable Jewish leader to his critics and
Moses begs G-d not to respect the offerings of
Korach and his followers. He said: "I have not
taken one donkey from any of them, nor have I
wronged them." Numbers 16:15: They could not
justify their accusations of tyranny because Moses
never abused his power! The Bible even attests to
this fact by describing Moses as the humblest of
Over the next several months our country is
embarking one of the most hotly partisan
presidential elections in my lifetime. There will
be many accusations and many responses. It is our
job to judge the responses.
The rabbis describe Korach's revolt, "Shelo
L'sheym Shamayim" (not for the sake of Heaven).
They did not hesitate to condemn the controversy,
which brought so much harm to all concerned. On the
other hand the Talmud is filled with argument and
debate to search for the truth to arrive at what is
peaceful and best for the community. Judaism
recognizes the validity of respectful disagreement
that is rooted in idealism and/or other justifiable
So let's let the Torah and the wisdom of the
rabbis guide us in both the process and parameters
of the future debates that will elect a leader to
our nation's highest office. Let's evaluate our
candidates' leadership ability on how the issues
are framed and the nature of their responses.
Korach was as a master of language. He knew how
to sway and how to persuade with slogans and
As we listen carefully to many speeches and
debates in the upcoming dialogues, let's keep our
focus on the fundamental principles and policies
that will shape our future. Let us be careful not
to allow our ideals to be squashed and replaced
with rhetoric that plays on our fears. And
certainly Israel must not become a pawn in the
Torah Scroll Covers - Please Help
We need your help: Our Torah scrolls are dressed
for the High Holy Days year round. We are in need
of burgundy colored "everyday" mantles for our
Torah scrolls to wear during the rest of the year.
The cost of a mantle is about $250. Please consider
the mitzvah of making a donation to dress our Torah
scrolls. Torah mantles can be embroidered with a
dedication. This is a lovely way to honor a loved
one. If you are interested in making a donation for
a Torah mantle, please contact Peggy Brown or
Fund Raising Committee
As we grow and manage all of our programs and
buildings, we find that we are less able to support
these programs through our annual dues. We will be
forming an activities based fund raising committee
and need people who can participate in the creative
process of conceiving fund raising programs and
help implement your ideas. Any and all suggestions
are welcome. If you are interested in participating
in this committee, please call or e-mail Marilyn
Weinberg or Dan Levey.
Cantor Dan's Visit to the Dike Newell
Daniel was asked to present the cello to the
entire 3rd and 4th grade classes at Dike Newell
School on June 14th. Mrs. Susan Cyr, music
director, asked Daniel to visit.
While there, he presented the cello as an
instrument. In his presentation, he described how a
cello is constructed, its component parts and its
acoustical characteristics. He also performed a
Vivaldi Sonata and was accompanied by Mrs. Cyr.
After he played, he told the students about some
of his personal experiences in orchestras, chamber
music groups, and solo performances around the
One important message that he conveyed to the
children was the importance having a dream and
making a commitment to realizing that dream.
Another key message is that it takes personal
disciple to learn a musical instrument as in any
other life endeavor.
In Daniel's case, he had other dreams as these
students will certainly have, however, it is
important to dream and have goals.
When Daniel was in his early teen years, not
much older than the students in Mrs. Cyr's class,
he had decided that he wanted to be a musician and
began to prepare himself for that career. According
to Daniel, the cello has been a life-long source of
joy and delight for me and he is glad that at that
time in life he had that dream.
Cantor Dan's Visit to Hawthorne House, an
Assisted Living Facility in Freeport Maine
Last week, I received a call from Paula Kappell,
activities director at Hawthorne House. She
explained that there were a number of Jewish
residents there and she asked for a visit from
Although I did not recognize any of their names,
I decided to go see them. It turns out that some of
the residents were grandparents of students of mine
during my years serving in Portland. I stopped in
to spend an hour or two talking with five Jewish
Some of the units housed Alzheimer residents who
had difficulty remembering much of their past
experience. Yet one engineer from Chicago who had
difficulty remembering, had been a prolific writer.
We ended up gathering a small group and reading
several of his delightful Jewish stories from
Chicago in the 40's and 50's. They were about his
beloved rabbi and extended Jewish family.
It was a real pleasure to share time and
hopefully bring a little happiness into the lives
of a few elderly Jewish residents of Freeport.
If anyone would be interested in visiting this
home, please let me know. It certainly would be a
very worthwhile activity for our Hebrew School and
Bar and Bat Mitzvahs.
News from the Hebrew School
Our Hebrew school year has come to an end.
Please email me if you have not had a chance to see
our Web based PhotoShow of the year. We are very
proud of our students, and we have high hopes and
expectations for the future.
On April 28th, Marie Wendt, a local dance
instructor, (and wife of Steve Gruverman of the
Casco Bay Tummlers) came to teach our students some
traditional Israeli dance steps, in honor of Yom
Ha'Azmaut (Israel Independence day). Many parents
also joined in and much fun was had by all. The
kids all learned Hatikva (Israel's national
anthem), with Cantor Daniel teaching, singing and
playing the piano, also in honor of Yom
On May 12th, following Hebrew school, everyone
enjoyed making their own ice cream sundaes. The
weather couldn't have been better, and some
families brought a picnic dinner. The kids
participated in a variety of games across the
street in the Patten Free library park. We have
some very good potato sack jumpers, relay racers,
and the potato catching with a fork was a big hit.
Many thanks to Campbell Clegg for organizing the
Lag B'Omer games.
Our Vav class, which includes; Sumner Blatt,
Alle Boyd, Michael Brodsky, Rachel Clegg, and Max
Weiss officially graduated on May 21st. Most of the
graduating students led the service that evening,
and gave a brief dvar torah describing something
that they enjoyed about their experience at Hebrew
school. As our Hebrew school says "goodbye" to this
group, our congregation says "hello." We look
forward to seeing each of them participating more
in our shul following their Bar/Bat Mitzvah.
All year long the kids have brought in money to
give toward a charity. With many excellent choices
to vote on, the two "winning" charities were The
Mid-coast Hunger project, and a charity that
provides pizza for Israeli soldiers. PizzaIDF.org supports
IDF troops on active duty in Israel. The soldiers
enjoy a special treat of pizza and soda and the
knowledge that people support and care for them.
The pizza is purchased from eleven pizzerias and
eateries which are given business during troubled
times when tourism is nonexistent. The Midcoast
Hunger Project provides food assistance to people
in the Greater Brunswick area. It is nice that the
kids chose one local charity, and one beyond our
borders. Next year we look forward to planning more
tzedakah and chesed projects, with the teachers,
parent committee and student body.
Each charity received a check for $100. Thank
you to all the Hebrew School families who have made
these gifts possible!
We want to extend many thanks to Simone Martell,
a gifted photographer, who came to take pictures of
each class. Thanks so much for helping us.
Also, we are extending a big thank you to
Roberta Brezinski, Campbell Clegg, and Terry
Winneg, who all year long, went above and beyond to
help our school run so effectively. Todah
To all our teachers another big thanks. Rachel
Connelly, Daniel Leeman, Tinker Hannaford, Alina
Shumsky, Marina Singer, Jill Standish, Neal Urwitz,
and our classroom aides, Carl Boyd, Rozi Eberhart,
and Noah Lumsden for inspiring our students week
after week, and teaching about our Jewish heritage
Class pictures are available through email.
Anyone interested in having a copy of his/her own,
please send me an email. There is also a Photo Show
of our school year. This is purposely not being
published on our Beth Israel website because our
policy states that photos will be published onto
the web only with the parent's permission. Since
many of the photos are group shots, it made
publishing these impossible. Please contact me if
you have not received it, and would like a copy
Last day of school
Our last day of school was May 19th. More
information will come shortly to prepare for next
year. To get a jump on enrollment, please print and
fill out an enrollment form. Forms
can be forwarded to Beth Israel Congregation 906
Washington St. Bath, ME 04530.
June 6, 2004
- Introduction from our President, Marilyn
Weinberg. Marilyn introduced the Board of
Directors made sure that everyone understood and
agreed with the agenda.
- Cantor's Report: Cantor Leeman
reported on the year's activities, including:
High holiday and other services, a Passover Seder
and Shavuous services and Weekly Shabbat services
every Friday night and Saturday morning.
Daniel has officiated at several life cycle
events, made hospital calls and pastoral visits
to community residents. He has held adult Hebrew
and language and Introduction to Judaism classes.
In our community Daniel has attended Interfaith
Council meetings, worked with Hospice, and
attended a Rotary meeting. Daniel has implemented
an "open door policy" and welcomes visitors to
- Treasurer's Report: Marilyn Weinberg
presented a report prepared by the treasurer, Rea
Turet. This report included a spreadsheet showing
actual expenses and revenues for 2003-04 and
projections for 2004-05. Specific explanations
noted the costs associated with the replacement
of the windows at the Minnie Brown Center, the
purchase of cemetery plots from the endowment
fund, and the lack of salary to Barbara Leeman
for organizing the school. The budget does not
include any capital improvement items with
minimal amounts set aside for repair of
- Chai Committee: A written report from
Lenore Friedland (read by Marilyn) thanked the
community for hosting weekly onegs. The Chai
committee held a family life program on
Interfaith Parenting, and developed a
questionnaire asking members to rank priorities
for future programs. Next year the Chai committee
will merge with the Ritual committee. Lenore will
continue to chair this committee which meets the
first Monday at Bookland at 5:30. Under
consideration is to resume lay led services on a
- Education: Campbell Clegg, the chair
of this committee, reported that He, Roberta
Brezinski and Terry Winneg have met one times a
month during Hebrew School. The services that
precede classes have become a more integral part
of the weekly routine; monthly Friday night
services with a potluck dinner have been
successful; teachers are needed for next year;
workbooks (as companions to textbooks) have been
requested by Daniel and some of the
- Building Committee: John Martell and
Peggy Brown presented a comprehensive overview of
the building's status with recommendations.
The top outside stairs at 862 have been repaired
for $389.00. Options for a long term solution to
this problem include permanently replacing the
steps with solid granite ($16,000-$17,000),
pre-cast replacement steps ($5,000-$9,000) or
repairing the steps as necessary with sealer.
Other needs identified included a sink upgrade
with plumbing and carpentry at 862 (estimated
cost of $1100; painting at both buildings, boiler
maintenance at both buildings; consideration of
the installation of an alarm system at 906.
Inside painting of trim at 906 is scheduled for
this summer. Roofing options were discussed for
862. John recommended that the painting of the
outside of the Synagogue should become our first
priority. Since the Minnie Brown Center needs a
total paint job as well, the issue of how to pay
for all these items arose and was discussed.
- Handicapped Access: Presentation by Ed
Benedikt. The overall goal of this effort is to
better service the needs of the membership. The
presentation and discussion included information
about different elevator options, code
requirements and the experiences of other
institutions that have installed these units. Ed
concluded that his research led him to the
recommendation that a "chair glide" system be
installed in the side entryway. Such a system
would allow more discreet access to both the
sanctuary and basement from the driveway
entrance. The estimated cost is $10,000. There
was a consensus among the members present that
this should be taken care of soon.
- Membership: Stanley Lane will continue
to chair this committee, but would like someone
to work with.
- Cemetery: Although some plots have
been sold. The number is far less than expected.
Many people said they were interested in buying
plots and as of yet have not come forward. Andy
Hagler has graciously agreed to continue to head
- Finance Committee: Report given by
Jeff Cohen. The committee has met and defines its
mission as follows:
Develop an investment strategy.
Recommend fundraising activities for specific
The committee has begun this process by
reviewing a set of proposals from A.G. Edwards;
"risk adversity" and social responsibility will
be taken into consideration.
- Newsletter: Carolyn Gilman has
resigned; Susan and Dan Levey have agreed to take
on the task. All of us are very grateful.
- Fundraising: This will become a
primary goal of the Board for the upcoming
- Social Action: New members are being
recruited. They will collaborate with the
interfaith group on selected projects.
- New Business: The Board made a motion
to increase the dues structure by 10% for the
2004-05 year. The motion passed unanimously by
the members present.
- Nominations: The following individuals
have served two terms on the board and are
therefore "term limited" off the board following
this meeting: Joanne Rosenthal, Tinker Hannaford,
Nonny Soifer and Carolyn Gilman.
The following individuals were unanimously
elected to the Board: Daniel Levey, Peggy Brown,
Irwin Brodsky and Stanley Lane.
- Other news: Beginning June 11th,
Friday evening services will begin at 7:30. This
will continue for the summer and re-evaluated in
Mid-Coast Hunger Prevention Program
This region has a program to reach out to
individuals and families with not enough food and
household supplies. The program serves meals at
lunch and provides groceries and other essential
supplies for those registered in advance at a food
pantry. Amazingly, the number of eligible families
with needs has been growing consistently
month-by-month over the last few years.
The needs from the community are continually
changing, depending on market resources. The need
right now is for feminine hygiene supplies. I hope
you will see the value of this effort and consider
making a donation. You can drop this off at 84A
Union Street in Brunswick or by sending a check to
me made out to the Mid-Coast Hunger Prevention
Program. I will make sure it is identified as
coming from a Beth Israel Congregant.