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Beth Israel Congregation


Beth Israel Congregation Newsletter

May/June 2005
Nisan/Iyar/Sivan 5765

President's Message
Volunteers Needed
Bowdoin College Dump and Run Event
Cantor's Corner
News from the Hebrew School
Friday Night Guest Speaker Events
Capital Campaign Update
Purim Carnival Thank You's
Torah Dedication at Bowdoin College
Young Judaea Spring Convention
Organizing a Young Judaea Branch
Social Action

President's Message

by Marilyn Weinberg

So what are you doing on June 12? 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 an upcoming summer filled with services and Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebrations. Services throughout the year have been interesting and varied. Our Hebrew School children have led services every month and we have had interesting and thought provoking presentations from members and guests.

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 12 at the Minnie Brown Center. Bagels, juice and coffee will be at 9:30 am. The meeting will begin at 10:00 am.

Volunteers Needed

by Marilyn Weinberg

We have come to realize that even with our capital campaign there will be a regular need to augment the annual budget. We want to come up with some fun ideas to make this happen. Several people have mentioned the idea of our selling food during Bath's Heritage Days. Possibilities mentioned were falafel, hummus and even potato pancakes. Other people have mentioned a goods and services auction. If you have any ideas or experience in any of these areas, please let us know. Contact Marilyn Weinberg or Campbell Clegg.

Bowdoin College Dump and Run Event

by Barbara Leeman

Shalom everyone...

Are you ready to volunteer for a good cause?

We can raise money for Beth Israel, do a mitzvah, by helping to slow down the waste that fills the Brunswick landfill, and we can even get some incredible bargains in the process.

Each spring (June actually), Bowdoin College runs what is called a "Dump and Run. As students are clearing out their dorm rooms, and returning home for the summer, they find there are many items they don't need or want. These items get donated by the students, and then collected, sorted and sold by volunteers (us), and then the whole community benefits. Depending on how many volunteer hours we are able to provide, will determine how big a percentage of the profits come back to Beth Israel.

I want to reserve some spots now, since they fill up quickly. If none of these times are good, Please contact me, so that I can reserve some alternate dates. I would like five people for each of the following dates and times:

Sunday, May 29, 9:00-12:30 pm
collecting day may involve heavy lifting
(If you have a truck that can be used to help collect items from the dorm rooms, the hours the truck is used also count.)
Sunday, June 5, 9:00-12:30 pm
sorting day
Monday, June 6, 9:00-12:30 pm
sorting day
Tuesday, June 7, 9:00-12:30 pm
sorting day
Wednesday, June 8, 9:00-12:30 pm
sorting day
Thursday, June 9, 9:00-12:30 pm
sorting day
Friday, June 10, 9:00-12:30 pm
sale begins for anyone who has already given volunteer hours
Sunday, June 12 9:00-2:00 pm
cleanup, Bowdoin will provide you lunch

I picked mostly the sorting days, so that there wouldn't be much heavy lifting, for anyone in our community. I picked some Sundays, for those working during the week. I also picked mostly mornings, to accommodate those with kids in school. On Sunday, we would finish with plenty of time to spare to prepare for Shavuot which comes in that evening.

I can sign up for additional hours, but did not want to lose the best hours available. Please email me back as soon as you know your schedule, to let me know which of the times (or other times listed on the letter below), that would be convenient for you.

Many thanks, and I hope we have some success in this win, win, win opportunity.

Cantor's Corner

by Daniel Leeman

I recently attended a regional Jewish professionals group in Portland. It included rabbis, cantors, educators, counselors, geriatric workers, camp directors, administrators and more. It was an interesting and productive agenda. We discussed possibilities for a number of combined activities for the future. This included a gathering of all the regional Hebrew School students for an Israel Independence Day party and parade.

I am hopeful that this will be a useful advisory and working group for the Jewish Community Alliance and other Jewish institutions state-wide in the future. It is also an opportunity to share information and resources. During these types of gatherings, Jewish professionals have an opportunity to compare notes and exchange experiences on an informal basis.

Last month I spoke at the Hospice Volunteer Center in Brunswick. I was part of a panel of three clergy. This included a local Protestant Chaplain and a Buddhist leader. We presented different traditions regarding visitation of the sick, end of life issues, and images of the "after-life."I presented some Jewish legal texts from the Shulkan Aruch, on the subject of visitation. It was difficult to summarize such complex topics into a condensed panel discussion environment, but I felt as if the volunteers found it useful. These dedicated individuals are regularly faced with interactions that involve profound and serious topics. The volunteers shared their experience in a frank and candid manner. Also, the panel ably fielded some excellent questions. I want to take this opportunity to thank all the panelists and volunteers for their sacred work, easing the burdens of individuals and their families at these most challenging and difficult times, when Hospice is needed.

News from the Hebrew School

by Barbara Leeman

By the next bulletin, our school year will have ended. Despite regular battles with the snow, we have had a busy year. This year was an opportunity to move forward on many of the programs that had success in the year before, and try out some new things as well. As we move forward next year, we will again send out a survey, and take feedback to help our Hebrew school continue to grow better each and every year.

Passover Seder!

On April 13, our school began to get into the Passover mood by having a model Seder. Cantor Daniel led the Seder, while the kids participated in leading parts. We were able to go through much of the Hagaddah while having fun in the process. Our Heh class (Rachel Connelly's class) prepared a special play, and kept us laughing as we reviewed the story of Passover. Special thanks to Deb Hagler, who came early to set up the room, flowers and all. Debs' homemade macaroons finished our meal with sweetness. A huge thank you to all who helped cleanup.

Class Shabbat Services!

Our Bet class led us beautifully in our Shabbat service on March 18th. Those who participated were: Shira Gersh, Jacob Hagler, Elliot Pressman, Jacob Schoenberg, and Sophie Sreden. Our Bet class teacher is Tinker Hannaford and Jane Martell is the student helper in the class. As always, we enjoyed a wonderful Shabbat meal prior to the service, with zmirot (Shabbat melodies) and all. Mazel Tov to everyone!

Our Aleph class (kindergarten class) will lead our service on May 20. We look forward to celebrating Shabbat with this wonderful group. Lauri Gallimore is their teacher, and Alexis Osmun is the Aleph class student helper. Deb Hagler who has been helping this class each week as well, have been wonderful with this group all year.

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. It was a wonderful success. Our biggest thanks go to Lauri Gallimore, who spent much time planning and organizing the carnival, and got many members involved. Chris Schoenberg's expertise was also invaluable, and she helped Lauri each step of the way. Cantor Daniel read the Megillah in both English and Hebrew, 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 pennies continued to be collected for Mid-Coast hunger. The Wednesday right before the carnival (March 16), the kids made their own Hamentashen at Hebrew school. Everyone enjoyed tasting their efforts. We thank all involved. It was a wonderful community effort.

Special Thanks

We had a few substitutes during the last two months, who deserve some special thanks. Susan Horowitz and Chris Schoenberg both stepped in to cover a class in time of need. The kids definitely benefited from their wisdom and enthusiasm. Noah Lumsden, Michael and Alec Brodsky have also had opportunities to not only lead our prayer service at the beginning of classes, but have also taken on more individual responsibilities in the classroom.

Mitzvah News

The Mitzvah Club has been doing more mitzvot during the month of March and April. There is now a large water bottle located at the Minnie Brown center to collect pennies for Mid-Coast hunger. Please be on the lookout for upcoming events.

Yom Hashoah Observed!

On Wednesday, April 27, the grades 3-6 had a chance to meet Manli Ho. She had an opportunity to share her story with many adults during our Friday Shabbat service in November, but few students were able to benefit from this information then. Manli Ho's father, Dr. Fen Shan Ho, helped Jews escape from Austria during WWII. He was one of the first diplomats to help Jews by issuing them visas to escape the Holocaust. He was the Chinese Consul General in Vienna following the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany in March of 1938. Ho is listed as one who is "righteous Among Nations."at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. This program was a great opportunity for our students to hear another perspective about the Holocaust.

Coming Soon, Israeli Dancing!

In honor of Yom Ha'Azmaut (Israel Independence day) we hope to have an educational Israeli dancing session take place before the end of school.

Lag B'Omer

We will celebrate Lag B'Omer on May 25, by having our outdoor games and ice cream party following Hebrew school, on the Patten Free library lawn across the street. Feel free to bring a picnic dinner and relax with us.

School Pictures

We will be taking class and school pictures on Wed. May 11. Copies will be sent to each family through email.


The kids have been donating all year, and during the month of May, they will vote on the recipients of their Tzedakah dollars. Don't forget to bring in your ideas.

Parent Committee Meeting

Our next parent committee meeting is on May 11. Feel free to come and join the planning for next year.

Friday Night Guest Speaker Events

This is a wonderful program which we instituted last year. Please try to participate in these interesting and informative events.

Abe Peck to Speak on May 6

We are very fortunate to have Abraham Peck as a speaker for our Yom Hashoah Service on Friday, May 6th.

Abraham J. Peck is the Director of the Academic Council for Post-Holocaust Christian, Jewish and Islamic Studies at the University of Southern Maine, as well as member of the history department at the University.

Dr. Peck spent more than two decades in directorial positions with the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati and the American Jewish Historical Society in New York, the two leading institutions on American Jewish life and history. He is a former advisor to Elie Wiesel, the first chair of the United States Memorial Holocaust Museum and vice-chair of its committee on archives and library. He is also a former vice-president of the Association of Holocaust Organizations.

Dr. Peck is the son of two Holocaust survivors who survived the Lodz Poland ghetto and the concentration camps of Auschwitz, Stutthof, Buchenwald and Theresienstadt. He was born in a Displaced Persons' camp in Landsberg, Germany, the city where Adolf Hitler wrote Mein Kampf.

For more than two decades, Professor Peck has been actively involved in numerous programs devoted to meaningful dialogue and creative social action programs between members of the American and international Jewish communities and members of the Christian, African American, German and Polish communities.

He is married to the former Jean Marcus, a native of Portland, who teaches in the department of media studies at the University of Southern Maine and has two grown children, Abby and Joel.

This is a program you should not miss. You might want to bring a friend.

Teen Service on May 13

Our very own Bar and Bat Mitzvah teens will be running the service on Friday, May 13 at 7:00 pm. It will be great to see them back up on the Bimah. The featured speakers for the evening will be Kaela Frank and Maya Tepler who will talk about their formation of a Young Judea program in Mid-Coast Maine. Come and support our youth.

Capital Campaign Update

by Jeff Cohen

Currently We Have Pledges of $150,000

As most of you know, we are in the midst of an ambitious Capital Campaign for Beth Israel Congregation. Our goal is $250,000. I am pleased to report that the total amount pledged now exceeds $150,000, so we are making substantial progress. We have been encouraged by the positive and generous responses from most of our members in pledging their financial support for the synagogue.

Beth Israel is already beginning to see the fruits of the campaign. We now have a new, motorized lift chair, making the sanctuary accessible to the handicapped—courtesy of a member's donation. We also have a brand new set of prayer books, thanks to another member's generosity. And soon, we will begin to undertake some major, much-needed capital improvements.

As we enter the latter phase of the Campaign, it is critical that we sustain the momentum that has been building over these last several months. Those of you who have not yet pledged support to the Campaign will be contacted in the near future by a Campaign volunteer. Please think about what Beth Israel means to you and to our community. We are counting on you to open your hearts, stretch your wallets, and give as generously as possible. With your help, we will reach our goal.

Purim Carnival Thank You's

by Lauri Gallimore

The Purim carnival was a big success and there are a lot of people to thank for their hard work and willingness to donate their time. A huge thank you to Chris Schoenberg for helping with everything from sending many e-mails out to past volunteers, helping to set up, and helping out the day of the carnival. This day could not have happened without all her help. Thanks to Terry Winneg for ordering all the prizes, helping to set up and handling all the refreshments. Thanks to Linda Osmun for helping to set up and for the fabulous face painting that she and her daughter Alexis did (the kids sure looked cute!!). Thank you to Rodney Osmun for the great balloon creations he made for all the kids. Thank you to all the helpers of the booths, without you we couldn't have a carnival. Fred Weinberg, Peggy Brown, Susan Horowitz, Michael Brodsky, Carl, Allegra and Morgan Boyd, Hannah Leeman, Nina and Carole Maris, and Micaela Tepler. Thanks to Tinker Hannaford for once again handling all the money and token sales for us and to Marilyn Weinberg for handling the prize table for us. Many thanks to Maya Tepler also, for bringing lots of delicious Hamantashen to the carnival for sale, and for representing Young Judaea. Thanks to all that cleaned up, I know there were many. A special thanks to Campbell Clegg for setting all the chairs back into place so that we'd be ready for Hebrew School on Wednesday. Overall I would say the carnival was very successful. By working together it makes things run smoother and enjoy some nice friendships along the way. A special thank you to Barbara Leeman for helping me keep this all together and her continued support for the synagogue and religious school activities.

Torah Dedication at Bowdoin College

by Irwin and Lori Brodsky

The room at the Moulton Union was filled with pride as Bowdoin College President Dr. Barry Mills and fellow alumni recounted the evolution of Bowdoin College from one that resisted religious diversity not three decades ago to one that has inaugurated its own chapter of the Hillel Jewish student organization this past year and dedicated its own Torah on April 2nd, 2005. The Torah, obtained from a Massachusetts synagogue through the work of a Bowdoin alumnus, has its own extraordinary history.

Rabbi Shimon Maslin, a summer Harpswell resident and a long-time Jewish leader and scholar on the Bowdoin campus, described the journey of the Bowdoin Torah from Europe, its having escaped destruction by the Nazis. The Torah made its way to Massachusetts, to the synagogue attended by Rabbi Maslin's mother. Now, with a spiritual thread binding one generation to another, the Torah sits, waiting for study by Bowdoin Jewish students, in a locally hand-crafted ark.

The dedication was coordinated by Beth Israel Congregation's own Cantor Daniel Leeman, Bowdoin Hillel's spiritual director. It was organized with the help of Beth Israel member, Hebrew School instructor, and Bowdoin Economics Professor Rachel Connelly and other members of the Bowdoin faculty and staff who have worked tirelessly to enrich Jewish life for students on the Bowdoin campus. Bowdoin Students participating in the dedication ceremonies included Beth Israel Hebrew School instructor Neal Urwitz.

Bowdoin Jewish students, their spiritual lives now accepted and enriched on campus with their Hillel chapter and its Torah, have begun a mentorship relationship with the Congregation Beth Israel fledgling Young Judea group for Middle and High School students. All expect the simcha surrounding the arrival of the Bowdoin Torah will be emblematic of a long, happy, and prosperous relationship among Bowdoin College Jewish students and faculty in the Beth Israel family.

Young Judaea Spring Convention

by Maya Tepler

Joining Young Judaea has been a truly rewarding experience for me. It is not just another youth group, it is a national peer-led movement. It has taught me to utilize my leadership and organizational skills as well as pushed my creative thinking to new heights. But most importantly Young Judaea has given me the chance to take part in a tight knit Jewish community.

I recently attended Young Judaea's spring convention at which there were 250 high school students from all over eastern United States. I stepped off the bus and was greeted by all of these teens screaming with excitement to welcome their friends. In addition to the religious aspect of the weekend (such as the Friday night services) there were many discussions about Judaism and Israel. The purposes of those discussions were to help each individual discover their own Jewish identity and how it relates to Israel. We were also given opportunities to have fun and make new friends such as the mock Bar Mitzvah party that was held on Saturday night. All of these activities were fun and interesting but there is one event that has truly stuck with me.

This event was our Havdalah service and the Rikkud (Israeli dancing) that followed. For Havdalah everyone attending the conference formed a huge circle outside and together in the freezing cold we said prayers and sang songs. Despite our steaming breath everyone felt the warmth of the Havdalah candle. After that we all gathered in the dark and proceeded to dance both traditional and modern Israeli dances. We were 250 people who had no inhibitions and who didn't have to worry about being judged. Many of us had just met that weekend but by that Saturday night we had formed this amazing, caring community.

I am proud to be a Young Judaean. And I would recommend it to anyone who was interested in learning more about Judaism, Zionism and themselves. The Maine club holds events monthly. We have had many successful events including a Chanukah party a Tu B'shvat Seder and an Israeli dinner. On Friday April 29 we will be holding a Passover dinner and anybody from the 8th-12th grade is welcome to come. If you have any questions feel free to email me or Kaela Frank.

Organizing a Young Judaea Branch on the Mid Coast

by Kaela Frank

Maya Tepler and I are in the process of creating a Maine branch of Young Judaea, a national youth Zionist organization. Young Judaea is based upon five main pillars: Jewish Identity, Pluralism, Zionism, Social Action, and Peer Leadership. We give Jewish teens (grades 8-12) the opportunity to meet other Jewish teens in the area and all over the country (, participate in Social Action in their community, learn about Judaism and Israel, and strengthen their Jewish Identity.

So far this year we've taken ten teens from the Midcoast Community to the Young Judea Fall Convention in Burlington, VT, had a Chanukah Party, a Tu B'Shvat Seder, and an Israeli Potluck Dinner that involved 10-18 Jewish students from the area and our Club Advisors from Bowdoin Hillel. We raised one hundred and fifty dollars to support a nationwide Hadassah Hospital Social Action Project by selling Hope. Heal. Dream. Fulfill bracelets. Our next event will be a trip to Portland for the Jewish Film Festival on Sunday, March 13. We also have a Social Action Convention coming up on March 18-21 in West Hartford, CT.

For more information please contact me or Maya Tepler.

Social Action - Seeking Volunteers to Help with Rides for the Less Fortunate

by Joanne Rosenthal

For the last eighteen months, the Mid-Coast Collaborative for Access to Transportation (a Brunswick-Topsham Community Action Group) has been looking at the issues related to transportation in the Brunswick and Topsham area. Particularly we have been focusing on the needs of individuals who have difficulty or inability to drive themselves, for whatever reason. We are now in a position where we know much more than we did at the outset about the issues and have proposed some possible solutions that includes partnerships with non-profit and religious groups.

There is a widespread acknowledgment that the lack of public transportation has effects that are deeply felt throughout our communities. We heard from people who felt isolated and unable to participate in the activities that make for a meaningful life because they could not afford a ride.

One solution that has been suggested would address the off hour, weekend and more spontaneous needs that have been repeatedly raised by many residents. This solution could take a number of forms, but it would develop a volunteer network, and the capacity to link people needing rides with those providing them. The Town of Brunswick, the Maine DOT, Coastal Transport, many community groups and the Brunswick Area Interfaith Council ( on which I represent Beth Israel) has been wonderfully supportive throughout, and we believe a successful partnership using volunteers can happen here.

Are any members of our congregation from Brunswick or Topsham willing to provide rides to those less fortunate?


We thank the following people who donated to Beth Israel Congregation

  • Ed and Ruth Benedikt for their support of the handicap chair
  • Janice Povich
  • Lucille Hershenhart and Peggy Brown in memory of Harold Hershenhart
  • Rea Turet and Sandy Polster in memory of Maurice Turet
  • Walter and Rita Rubin in memory of Samuel Rubin