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Beth Israel Congregation


Beth Israel Congregation Newsletter

May/June 2006
Iyar/Sivan/Tammuz 5766

Medical Ethics Conference
May Services at Minnie Brown
Treasurer's Request
Kitchen Clean Out Crew
News from the Hebrew School
Presidents Message
Dump and Run
Mah Jongg
Midcoast Hunger Prevention
Synagogue Choir
Tedford Shelter
Mid-Coast Collaborative
Art Spiegelman at Bowdoin Hillel
Shalom in the Home
A Cantor's Tale

NOTE: It is our policy that no personal telephone numbers, email addresses or mailing addresses be contained in the web version of our newsletter. If you need to get in touch with one of our members please email us at

Medical Ethics Conference

The Medical Ethics Conference that was held on March 26 at the Minnie Brown Center was very well attended. Each speaker was well prepared and they each presented their views in a forthright manner. Also, the breakfast was a big hit. Here are two notes that summarize the experience.

by Irwin Brodsky MD, MPH

I would like to thank all of the members of our distinguished panel this morning for a job well done in generating discussion and expanding knowledge. Thank you to the Beth Israel Chai Committee and Board of Directors for your help with the publicity and logistics. I look forward to feedback from many quarters to see if it is a venture we would like to undertake again and to see how we can improve it.

My bias is that, in a multicultural society dominated by non-Jewish influence, it is difficult for many of us to remember what we offer ourselves, our families, and our communities by our uniquely Jewish thought processes and heritage. I hope that more and more Maine Jews will join together in their community Synagogues and elsewhere to help each other remember

by Richard Gelwick, Th.D. Professor Emeritus
University of New England, Medical Humanities
Ethics Adjunct Professor, Bangor Theological Seminary

I want to thank you and all those who helped to present the conference last Sunday. It was an outstanding conference in many ways. First, the panel was well qualified both in medicine and in ethics from both a Jewish and current understanding of medical ethics. Second, the use of cases for discussion worked excellently. I had never thought before about how naturally Torah study would work with case study in medical ethics. Second, the congregation itself was also very welcoming and insightful.

I was the founding president for 6 years of the Maine Bioethics Network that lasted from 1992 to 2002 before it collapsed from insufficient funding. We had conferences several times a year including at Bates, Maine Medical Center, and Eastern Maine Medical Center often with nationally prominent leaders. Your conference showed again how helpful it is for both lay and professional persons to meet to discuss these issues.

May Services at Minnie Brown

by Marilyn Weinberg

Because of the construction at the synagogue, Friday night services for the month of May will be held at the Minnie Brown Center. Services will begin at 7:00 as usual (except for the Tot Shabbat at 6:30). We hope to be back in the synagogue by early June, If there are any changes we will send out an e-mail to let you know. If you are not already on our e-mail list, please get in touch with Marilyn Weinberg to make sure you are added.

Treasurer's Request

by Rea Turet

Beth Israel Congregation's fiscal year ends on June 30. We would appreciate it if you would complete payment for your membership dues and Hebrew School tuition for the 2005-06 year. We understand that not everybody can pay the full amount, yet we all need to contribute as best we can.

Membership dues and Hebrew School tuition should cover our annual expenses. Yet this year we have had to take money out of our endowment funds to meet operating costs. Although fundraising has helped, we still have a shortfall.

Any payment you make to fulfill your dues and tuition makes a difference.

Kitchen Clean Out Crew

by Marilyn Weinberg

We had a wonderful crew of volunteers arrive at the synagogue on a Sunday morning to clear out the downstairs in preparation for the new construction. The Boyd family came out in force and moved an amazing amount of material to the Minnie Brown Center. Our three stalwart Hyde School students, Kyle, Mile and Ross, also added their muscle and enthusiasm to the project. Cleaning out the kitchen proved to be equally daunting. Thanks to Peggy Brown, Lynn Frank, Norma Dreyfus, Stanley Lane, Rea Turet, Barbara Leeman and Fred Weinberg for all their hard work.

News from the Hebrew School

by Barbara Leeman

By the next bulletin, our school year will have ended. We have had a busy year. This year was an opportunity to continue many of the programs that had success in past, 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.

Purim Carnival

For all who came to the Megillah reading and Purim carnival, the spirit and enthusiasm with which our children joined in, made all the planning worthwhile. It was a wonderful success. Our biggest thanks go to Lauri Gallimore, who planned and organized the carnival, and got many members involved. 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 had shaloch manot exchanges, while the parents collected food and other items for those in need. The Wednesday right before the carnival (March 15), the kids made their own Hamentashen at Hebrew school. Everyone enjoyed tasting their efforts. We thank all involved. It was a wonderful community effort.

Class Shabbat Services

Our Aleph class led us beautifully in our Shabbat service on March 17. Those who participated were Sullivan Boyd, Zelda Clegg, Nicholas Hagler, Arielle Leeman, Emma Miller, Sadie Pressman, Henry Raker, and Noa Sreden. Isaac Boll is also an active member of this class. Our Aleph class teacher is Tinker Hannaford and Jane Martell is the student helper in the class. We are very grateful for their work with this class. As always, we enjoyed a wonderful Shabbat meal prior to the service, with zmirot (Shabbat melodies) and all. Mazel Tov to everyone!

Passover Seder

On April 5, our school began to get into the Passover mood by having a model Seder. Daniel led the seder, while the kids participated in leading different parts. We were able to go through much of the Hagaddah while having fun in the process. Special thanks to Deb Hagler and Chris Schoenberg, who came early to set up the room, flowers and all. Deb's homemade macaroons finished our meal with sweetness. A huge thank you to all who helped pull it all together and brought many Seder items.

Gan Class

Our Gan class (kindergarten) will be leading our service on May 19. This was originally scheduled for April 28, so please change your calendars, and plan to join us. This group includes Tobyn Blatt, Ethan Boll, Avi Gersh, Rebecca Maniscalco, Abigail and Zoe Sreden. We look forward to having this wonderful group lead us.

Special Thanks

Marilyn Weinberg stepped in to cover a class in time of need. The kids definitely benefited from her wisdom and enthusiasm. Thank you for being a great substitute.

Yom Hashoah

On Wednesday, April 26, the grades 3-6 had a chance to view the movie Paperclips. This very inspiring movie about a little town in Tennessee, decided it was time to learn about diversity. The students of Whitwell Middle school began collecting paperclips, hoping to collect 6 million representing each of the Jews killed in the holocaust. They ultimately collected well over 20 million, and learned about the Holocaust in a very unique way, from survivors, German citizens and others who became interested in their project. This video was a great way for our students to see how other students their age honored the lives of those lost in the Holocaust, and how even today, we can still make a difference.

School Pictures

School pictures were taken on April 5. Copies will be sent to each family through email when they are available.

Israeli Dancing

In honor of Yom Ha'Azmaut (Israel Independence Day) we are going to have an educational Israeli dancing session on May 3. Lisa Tessler gave the kids a great introduction to many different dance steps last year, and she will be enhancing on those while introducing more this year. This is a favorite event (not to be missed) amongst our kids.

Lag B'Omer

We will celebrate Lag B'Omer on May 17, 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. Festivities begin at 6pm, following Hebrew school, and last for no more than one hour.

Vav Class Graduation

We have a number of students who have been with us at our Hebrew school many years. Our students will be graduating, and moving onto private study, where they will prepare for their Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Our graduating class will lead services on June 2 (originally on the calendar as June 9, but moved), as we celebrate Shavuot, the anniversary of the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. This special Bikkurim service will include the Reading of the Book of Ruth and will be led by the following students: Ethan Blatt, Hannah and Sam Leeman, Rebecca Lewis, Nina Maris, Sarah Neuren, and Rachel Schoenberg. It should be a wonderful service for all involved and all others who come.


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 and last parent committee meeting is on May 3. Feel free to come and join the planning for next year.

Presidents Message

by Marilyn Weinberg

So what are you doing on June 4? 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 guest speakers.

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? Our dues still do not meet our operating expenses. 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 4 at the Minnie Brown Center. Bagels, juice and coffee will be served at 9:30 am. The meeting will begin at 10:00 am.

Dump and Run

by Barbara Leeman

Bowdoin's Dump and Run 2006 - the big end of the year student move-out program, is soon approaching. 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). 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. The whole community benefits. For those of you who have participated before, you know it is a lot of work, but a great way to raise money for our congregation while also keeping a lot of usable goods out of the Brunswick landfill. It also provides great deals for people in the community.

Many non-profits have heard about this fundraiser, and there is considerable competition to get shifts. There were some shifts that we asked for, that we got, and other shifts that were given to Beth Israel, that we did not actually sign up for. We have open spots that we need to fill for Memorial Day weekend (1:30-5:00 pm shifts), or Thursday, June 8th (1:30-5:00 pm). If you find you are available, and want to do a mitzvah, please email or call.

Many people were able to give of their time generously last year. We earned over $1000 for Beth Israel. This was really wonderful, since everyone put in only a few hours each. Some had so much fun, they took more than one shift. I hope many will consider helping this year.

Please contact me as soon as you know that you can make a commitment to help.

Bam, Crack, Mah Jongg's Back!

by Emily Sandberg

The JCA is offering a new series of Mah Jongg lessons. This will be a three-week refresher course, although beginners are also welcome.

Mah Jongg is an incredibly popular social game that spans many generations.

Please join us for three consecutive Wednesday evenings or Monday afternoons and be taught by our wonderful volunteer instructors. Light refreshments will be served.

Wednesdays, May 3 and 10 from 7:00-9:00 pm at the Jewish Community Alliance
Mondays, May 1, 8, and 15 from 1:00-3:00 pm at The Atrium at The Cedars

$15 for three-week session. Fee includes required card that you will receive the first lesson.

Please call Leslie Cyr at the JCA at 772-1959

Call soon! There is limited space for this program and it will fill quickly. Call Emily Sandberg with questions.

Midcoast Hunger Prevention

by Jill Standish

Meals are needed for a member of our community. Please contact Joanne Rosenthal at home or work if you are able to help. Thank you.

The Sunday morning food project with the Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program is underway. More volunteers are needed for a once a month commitment. Please contact Jill Standish to learn more.

Synagogue Choir

by Evelyn Panish and Cantor Daniel Leeman

Do you like to sing? Do you enjoy the songs and chants that we sing during our Shabbat services? Evelyn Panish was a member of the choir of her previous synagogue and would like to see one launched at Beth Israel. Cantor Dan is willing to help and work with the group. We just need singers. You do not need to be able to read Hebrew. If you would like to be part of this new group, please contact Evelyn Panish or Cantor Daniel Leeman.

Tedford Shelter

by Ed & Ruth Benedikt

The Tedford Shelter "Homelessness to Hope" initiative represents a giant step forward from the traditional shelter programs which provide temporary lodgings for the homeless. Anyone working in this field quickly learns that a significant portion of the homeless population cycles in and out of such last-hope facilities, as their fragile grip on housing repeatedly falls before the same personal problems and inadequacies. This new project in the Bath-Brunswick area is designed to combine rooms or apartments with centrally based counseling and referral services that help address problems of substance abuse, mental illness, lack of job skills and behaviors, illiteracy, etc.

It is a basic tenet of tzedakah that the highest and noblest form of charity is to enable people to be self-sufficient. For that reason, although many members of Congregation Beth Israel have already been involved in the Tedford Shelter's ambitious project to combat homelessness, we think it would be helpful and appropriate for the Beth Israel Congregation to give a warm endorsement of this project.

Since many of our members live in the communities in which these new units will be built, this could be, in part, a gesture of welcome. Every one of us must make our own choices on the amount and the recipients of our personal charitable contributions, but we can all be a part of endorsing this remarkable project and of expressing our organizational approval and support.

Let's get involved. Contact Ed or Ruth to find out how.

Mid-Coast Collaborative

by Ed & Ruth Benedikt

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 acknowledgement 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?

Art Spiegelman at Bowdoin Hillel

by Cantor Daniel Leeman

As one of Hillel's advisors at the Bowdoin College Campus, it is a pleasure each year to attend a dinner reception and special Spindell lecture. The lecture is sponsored by the Bernstein family of Portland in memory of Harry Spindell, Roz Bernstein's father. Roz was also married to the late Sumner Bernstein, whom I had the pleasure of knowing as an acquaintance and respected attorney and Jewish community leader in Portland back in the late 1980's.

This year's choice was an outstanding figure, Art Spiegelman, the Pulitzer prize winning author. He is best known for his graphic novel series "Maus, a survivor's tale." This was an easy read. It leapt off the page for the child in all of us, who likes to look at pictures while reading. Because he was coming to campus, it was required reading as part of First- Year student orientation this fall.

It's a work that depicts Jews as mice and Nazis as cats. In his presentation on the podium at a packed auditorium of some 300 souls, Mr. Spiegelman combined the humility of a solid, down to earth neighborly type, with the artistry of someone who feels so deeply that it hurts to witness some of his work. He has the gift of being able to quietly display the profound depth of his emotions in the symbols and pithy writing of his craft. He was able to convey his images, both literally and figuratively. He shared his life experience, although harsh, for all to see, as he clicked through his slide presentations.

For those who don't know his work, he described a desire to create a "comic book that required a bookmark." Back in the seventies, the graphic novel was a new art form. As the child of Holocaust survivors, growing up in Washington Heights, in northern Manhattan among many other children of survivors, he witnessed the difficult and sometimes broken world of survivor families. He found refuge in the heroes of the comic books. The book series, "Maus," is mostly about the troubled relationship he had with his father. His father was depicted as a difficult, nervous man, who could be overbearing and annoying. One poignant aspect of the book was how his father hoarded food. He used to return unused portions of open packages of food to the supermarket.

When I met and asked Mr. Spiegelman about it, he explained that some survivors were profligate, and couldn't hold on to a penny. They felt they needed to live for today, and not worry about tomorrow. Others couldn't waste anything, always hoarding, saving, almost miserly in behavior. He implied that his father, alas, fit into this latter category.

One of the most powerful images he shared with the group was entitled "Future." It was a drawing of himself as a mouse and his father, sitting on the floor in front of a couch in his own living room, beside his young four-year-old daughter. They were reading together in a lovely scene. Yet, looming in the background as if as a mural on the wall behind them out of their sight, but over-arching in ours, was the shadow of hanging mice. It was a veiled depiction of Jewish bodies left hanging for days at the gallows by the Nazis. The title "Future" gave me shivers as his beautiful young mouse-like daughter was enjoying her father's love and attention. The tender love of a father was clear, yet the darkness of the Holocaust seemed to over-shadow all there was in their young lives and in their relationship. (I found this image of the "future" both profoundly sad and beautifully hopeful at the same time.) This is what makes the man, Spiegelman, and his story, Maus, so compelling. Because he and his work combine the two, both pain and hope.

Another painful personal element to Spiegelman's life, was that his Mom committed suicide. He explained that after surviving the Nazi's she didn't want to go on. She married Vladek, Art's father, and gave birth to Art because of Vladek's pleading. Vladek wanted her to go on with life and overcome their harsh experience. She tried but eventually couldn't any longer. Our guest lecturer showed slides of his renderings of his mother's funeral. It was gut-wrenching and powerful. One of the slides was black, with giant tears.

Spiegelman tried to be clear that he wasn't trying to make any statements about the Jewish experience. He wasn't trying to point to the future or explain the past. He explained that back, when he was embarking on the writing of Maus, he consulted his wife about his plan. She advised him not to worry about the implications of his work. She said "Just keep it real." So this is what Spiegelman set as his goal, and he succeeded. Through his work he shares the pain and hope of the Jewish experience. We're grateful that he came to visit our Jewish community.

Shalom in the Home

by Cantor Daniel Leeman

Rabbi Shmuel Boteach is a remarkable figure. His training is as a Lubavitch Rabbi. He worked in England at Oxford University where he created a vibrant Jewish community called the L'Chayim Club (to life club) that has spread its Jewish message to Cambridge and to London. He began working on television and radio with the BBC and now has launched a fascinating series on The Learning Channel in the US.

He is best known for his sensationalist book entitled "Kosher Sex." The book grew out of his experience counseling college and university students on the do's and don'ts of sexual experimentation. He's a traditional, and knowledgeable Rabbi, while being a sensitive and insightful observer of personal and intimate relationships.

The new US television series on TLC is entitled Shalom in the Home. I've seen a couple of episodes and they are terrific. I'll describe one episode about a family in crisis. The parents divorced two years prior because of the father's infidelity, and have been in fight mode ever since.

The rabbi arrives as a larger than life presence and lives in his "Airstream" camper van for a week. He parks beside the troubled family home and places cameras inside and communicates with the family via invisible ear pieces. He forces wrong doers to confess, and gives practical, reasonable, insightful advice on the best ways to proceed to keep peace at home.

He is vigorous at encouraging parent's to exert their authority, and take charge on issues of loud unruly behavior and teen sex. He encourages families to play together and thereby create great memories of loving times and experiences. He demands hard work and respect from everyone. It is a beautiful and much needed series. I only hope he can continue his positive influence and maintain his imaginative and creative approaches to solving family problems.

Rabbi Boteach himself was born to parents who divorced when he was a child. The most beautiful element to this show is that the pain and loneliness he experienced as a child, that has stayed with him, inspired him to dedicate his work to help families in distress. He helps to create a peaceful, happy home in which children can be raised. There's a type of perfection to this approach to life that I believe really has a sanctity that shines.

A Cantor's Tale

by Cantor Daniel Leeman

I was invited by board members of the Maine Jewish Film Festival to help moderate a discussion after the screening of A Cantor's Tale, one of the films shown at the festival last month. There were about 150 people in attendance and I shared the delightful task of leading the discussion with Cantor Ruth Ross of Temple Beth El in Portland, Maine.

The subject of the biographical documentary film, and star of the film, was Jacob "Jack" Mendelson, a Cantorial colleague and acquaintance of mine of some 20 years. Although I've met and chatted cordially with Jack on numerous occasions at annual Cantors Assembly Conventions, this film was an extraordinary insight I'd never seen into his character and career.

The film-maker, Eric Greenberg Anjou, did a masterful job weaving together the various venues and practices in the life of the community Cantor. We saw Jack in concert, we saw him teaching at the Cantorial School of Hebrew Union College in NYC, we saw him singing with and teaching the kindergarten class at the Conservative Synagogue in which he serves in White Plains, NY. We also saw him in his element, the old village of Boro Park, in Brooklyn recounting his remembrances of his childhood in Brooklyn in the late 1940's.

The film gives the viewer a rare glimpse of a world imported from the shtetyl of Europe, where the Cantor was one of the town's great musical personalities. The film described and demonstrated the great genius and vocal mastery of such cantors as Hirshman, Rosenblatt, Kwartin, and Kousevitsky. During interviews with Mendelson and others, we listened in the background, often swelling to the surface, to their golden voices together with their select male choirs. There were interviews with Jack's friends, who are arguably some of today's great cantors, Malovany of the Fifth Avenue Synagogue in NYC, Ben-Tzion Miller, of Brooklyn, Abe Mizrahi of Chicago. Also interviewed were some of the great proponents of Jewish Musical composition and choral music, like Mati Lazar, the founder of the "Zamire Chorale," and its newest offshoot, "Hazamir," the international teen Jewish choral movement.

There were also simple exchanges with his buddies, lovers and collectors of Jewish music recordings, who know the great cantorial masters as icons and community heroes. One exchange that has stuck firmly in my memory was when Jack described the capes, the swagger, the shiny shoes and cane of the master cantor, who always traveled with a retinue of followers. These followers consisted of choristers and literally ‘groupies' of that generation. He explained how cantorial music was in the air, on the street, on the radio. The average Jewish person knew the music as we today know pop stars' music. Concerts of Jewish music were sold out, packed, bursting with excitement and energy.

It is rumored that the film would never have come to be, had not this young film-maker had a mid-life crisis of sorts. Apparently, he mistakenly considered that his choice to become a film-maker, and his developed accomplishments and expertise were not as important as a career which he may have preferred, as a Cantor. So Anjou apparently left his illustrious life as a film-maker temporarily, to find a mentor and to learn to become a Cantor. He found and befriended Jack Mendelson and became a regular of his cantorial classes, his synagogue, and even was a house-guest, enjoying Sabbath and Holiday meals at the family's home in White Plains. One could conclude that from Anjou's personal crisis and career change exploration, came this gem of a film.

One fascinating aspect of the film was the way Jack described his relationship to his family, especially his mother. His parents ran a Kosher Deli and left him at home alone a lot as a child. He spent his time listening to Cantorial recordings over and over. He describes his mother as one of those fanatic lovers of every aspect of the cantorial world (a groupie) and that she had decided FOR her two boys that they both would become professional Cantors. At the time, a woman hadn't the option to become a community Cantor, so perhaps teaching one's sons to become Cantors was the next best thing for her.

Jack explains that he was not much of a student at the Yeshiva and was expelled. He went to the local public high school and also failed. He never graduated high school. After a very brief stint as a professional gambler, he took refuge at his brother's home in Long Beach, New York for the summer (his brother Sol was also a Cantor and later became president of the Cantors Assembly). In the fall he became a student at the Hebrew Union College's Cantorial School, a branch of the Reform Movement. Coming from an orthodox home and the Yeshiva world, this choice was a shock to his family and community. But the Cantorial world is what he knew and loved. He paid some of his tuition by working as a waiter at the famous Kosher Restaurant, Ratner's, in Brooklyn.

What 'spiced-up' the whole film were interview accounts from some of Mendelson's famous friends. These included Alan Dershowitz, and Jackie Mason. They hilariously described their experience as children in the Cantorial choirs in Brooklyn and what it was like in the neighborhood. At one point Mendelson pointed across the street and said "That was Sandy Koufax's house. His father was the local dentist." He pointed to another small store with a counter soda fountain and said "David Geffen used to drink egg creams (a type of milk shake) at that dime store." He went on to say "Steven Spielberg's uncle used to deliver hot-dogs right here, to my parent's deli." He shared all these memories with warmth, charm, and charisma.

All together, the film was bittersweet for me. I felt Jack has tried his whole life to preserve an art form that is rapidly fading. He gave us a taste of a Jewish world pulsing from the horror of WWII and the miraculous hopefulness embodied in the new State of Israel. Yes, Jewish music of all kinds is burgeoning beautifully today and being recorded for all of us to enjoy. But it is mostly new compositions, or modern music with Jewish themes. One may describe the change as the plaintiff cry of the shtetyl Cantor being transformed into the joyous celebration of Jewish life in America and Israel. Yet, one could also view the golden age of the Cantorial Master as a world going by. The Nusach (Jewish musical mode) of the synagogue has been partially preserved, but these model chants seem to be giving way to a new sound. The film depicts a man's life and love of a musical genre that has changed so dramatically and really no longer exists as he knew it. Mendelson seems to cling to the cantor's music as hopefully as the Haredim (Ultra Orthodox) cling to the Western wall. As the prophet Ezekiel wrote in this week's Shabbos and Pesach Haftorah : Hatichyena Ha'atzamot Ha'ayleh? Will these bones yet live?


The following members have made donations to Beth Israel Congregation. We thank them for their generosity:

  • Sharon Drake, in memory of her father, Edward Kravitz
  • Andrew Schoenberg, in memory of his mother, Elayne Schoenberg
  • Rea Turet and Sandy Polster in memory of her father, Maurice Turet
  • Daniel and Barbara Leeman
  • Ann Marks in honor of Lori and Irwin Brodsky's Twentieth Anniversary
  • In memory of Frances Weinberg, Fred Weinberg's mother
    • Marilyn and Fred Weinberg
    • Richard and Judy Gelles
    • Ann Isacoff
    • Lenore and Jay Friedland
    • Dan and Susan Levey

We thank the following friends of Beth Israel Congregation for their generosity:

  • Thomas Stetson
  • Ruth Belchez and Peter Dessereau