red_bullet Home
 Strategic Plan
 Donation Form
 Yizkor Book Form
 Contact Us
 Gift Shop
 Building Renovation
 Memorial Boards
 Sunshine Committee
 Committees (other)
 Candle Lighting Times
 Torah Readings
 Yahrzeit Calendar
 Hebrew School
 Picture Gallery
 School Calendar
 Bar/Bat Mitzvah
 Jewish Calendar
 Hebrew Date
 Sept./Oct. 2017
 Newsletter Archives
 Local Sites
 Jewish Maine



Beth Israel Congregation


Beth Israel Congregation Newsletter

November/December 2006
Heshvan/Kislev/Tevet 5767

Turn Over a New Scroll
President's Message
Special Upcoming Events
Visiting Prime Minister Olmert
Kaela Frank's Journal On-line
Hospice Memorial Service
Alarm System
Bowdoin Student Interview Request
News from the Hebrew School
Progressive Sukkot
High Holiday Flowers
New Members

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

Turn Over a New Scroll

by Daniel Leeman

A month long series of Holidays last month culminated with the lively and spirited celebration of Simhat Torah. We completed the reading of Deuteronomy and began the reading of the Torah anew with the recitation of the first portions of Genesis. This creates an opportunity for you. Weekly Sabbath morning Torah services are to many Jewish people the high point of congregational life. They combine a feeling of warmth, and ruach (spirit), around prayer and study. It's a chance to disconnect from the work-week's focus on the material world, and is a golden opportunity to get together with like-minded searchers for Jewish learning, spiritual refreshment and renewal. It is a pathway into the wisdom of our patriarchs and matriarchs, and of the rabbis. All around the world, shul-goers (those who attend synagogue) are focused on this new beginning of weekly Torah study that is starting now. You can too.

You may ask: "Cantor, I pray regularly by myself, whether I'm at home, in the car, office, or walking at the beach. Why do I need an organized service?" I would answer as the rabbis do: "B'rov am hadrat Melech," which is translated as, "In a great multitude, one addresses a king." If we address a human king or political leader with great numbers, petitions, and voting blocs, how much more so should we address the King of Kings, the Maker of heaven and earth in significant numbers.

Part of what makes this process so special is the commitment of many to make weekly study and attendance a priority. What better way is there to start your weekend? In many synagogues around the country Sabbath morning is where you'll find considerable attendance. Our small congregation is keeping the torch burning, by providing our whole community with a weekly Shabbat Torah Service where everyone is welcome. Please join us regularly at 9:30 am on Saturdays and turn over a new leaf as we turn over a new scroll, and begin anew the readings of the weekly Torah portion.

President's Message

by Andy Hagler

I think that all of our members and guests can agree that we enjoyed a wonderful High Holiday season at Beth Israel. I've got to admit, though, that I am susceptible to synagogue overload as Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, and Simchat Torah arrive in rapid succession. I feel lucky, however, when time stops just long enough during services that I am able to take hold of a spiritual moment. For me, it came amidst the cheerful abandon of joining in the torah-carrying conga line that is Simchat Torah.

Then, back in the pew, Steve Singer leans over and recounts how, when he was a kid, the "old-timers" sat at a table adjacent to the bimah, stuffed themselves with pickled herring, and downed a jigger of scotch each time the torah completed its orbit of the sanctuary. Spiritual moment broken? Not really. I imagined the old timers (substituting, in my mind's eye my own now gone grandparents and great aunts and uncles for the Poviches and Singers who were actually there but whom I never knew), and thought: how proud of us they would have been. We've kept the rituals alive in Midcoast Maine (sans the booze) for another two or three generations. We have a young energetic cantor to lead us in services and in learning. New members to our community are continuously joining us in prayer, energizing our programming, and pitching in with the chores. We're improving the shul to make it last (new roof, new furnace) and to make it better suited to our needs (new kitchen/function room that is welcoming, efficient and tasteful). We are about to receive new chumashim that were purchased with the proceeds of a generous donation made for that purpose by two young members of the congregation on the occasion of their recent bar/bat mitzvahs. We are, in a word, thriving as a Jewish community.

You recently received in the mail a questionnaire meant to solicit your thoughts and opinions regarding how you think things at the synagogue are going in general, and with respect to Daniel's growth as Cantor and Director of the Hebrew School, in particular. The Board will be using your answers in the course of its constant reflection on priorities and in connection with our annual performance review of Daniel. Do not be surprised if a member of the Board calls to follow up on some insight you might provide. We want and need your thoughtful comments.

So, if you're feeling maxed-out on synagogue after the High Holidays, I know that you'll snap out of it once you reflect on your Beth Israel experience and respond to the questionnaire by letting us know what we need to do to keep being proud of what we do.

Special Upcoming Events

Friday, November 3
"I Remember When"
My mother, Ann Isacoff, was born in June of 1916. She always has shared wonderful stories about her years growing up in Chelsea, Mass. When her grandchildren were old enough, she began to tell these stories to them as well. We asked her to write some of them down. The project began and then grew. She has now written two "books" and is talking about a third. I thought it would be nice if she could share these memories with others. Please join us on Friday, November 3 at 7:00 pm. My mom will share some of her stories after a brief Shabbat service. These stories will be enjoyed by people of all ages.
-Marilyn Weinberg

Friday, December 1
Our second Tot Shabbat service will be held at 6:30 pm.

Friday, December 8
Our regular service will be led by the Heh class.

Saturday, December 16
Sarah Neuren's Bat Mitzvah will be held at 9:30 am. All are welcome.

Sunday, December 17
Join us for our annual Chanukah celebration at the Minnie Brown Center. We will sing songs, have great food, and share the candle lighting. Look for a flyer that will let you know more about this special day.

Visiting Prime Minister Olmert

by Kaela Frank

I had known for about a week that on Monday October 9, 2006 I would be speaking at an event hosted by Prime Minister Olmert. I was excited and nervous by the prospect. I had no idea what to expect. The day finally came, my speech was all prepared, but of course I was running late and had forgotten my passport as I was headed towards the cab. My cab driver knew absolutely no Hebrew and when I tried to explain that I needed to go to Olmert's house he thought that I was talking about a street. I'm lucky to have even made it.

When I got to the Prime Minister's house I was surprised to find that on the outside it looked the same as all of the other apartments in Jerusalem, it was just a lot bigger and had heavy security. I waited for a half-hour with a MASA representative and two other attendees speaking on behalf of Oranim (Israel Service Corps) before security let us through. They had to scan our hands and cell phones to see if we had been making bombs and they put all of our stuff through metal detectors. I was surprised that they let us bring cameras.

The event was held in the Sukkah outside of the Prime Minister's house. There was a very diverse crowd of forty immigrants speaking English and Hebrew with all sorts of accents. There were a lot of Russians and Ethiopians, some Mexicans, someone from Uruguay and China, some people from the States, a Norwegian and a South African. There were also ten speakers from various MASA supported programs. I was placed in the center of the front row with a perfect view of the Prime Minister.

Everyone started off by introducing themselves, where they were from, why they were in Israel and how long they had been here. Then there were about five different speakers, mostly young adults. The speech I gave was to thank the Prime Minister and MASA for all of the financial support they give kids on the Year Course program. I also explained to them the importance of Year Course by sharing some of the unique experiences I've had already in my first month of living in Israel. The Prime Minister gave a speech about how even though we all come from different places, Israel is still a home for all of us (at least that was the basic gist?the speech was in all Hebrew).

The evening ended with a photo-op with the Prime Minister. There was no chair for him in the audience so we shared a chair together. He seemed very friendly and down to earth, and he chatted with as many people as he could before he had to run off to another meeting. What I liked most about this experience was that I saw that the Prime Minister is just a regular guy. Sure he has an important job but he's no larger than life. It gives me hope that one day I too will be able to do important things in attempt to change the world for the better.

Kaela Frank's Journal On-line

by Marilyn Weinberg

Above, is the latest on Kaela Frank's visit to Israel "in her own words." We are so proud of her. We have begun a new section on our website called "Kaela's Journal" to keep you up to date on what Kaela is doing and learning during her year in Israel. She has agreed to send us regular entries so we can share her observations, her accomplishments and her challenges. Keep up to date by going to

Community Interfaith Hospice Memorial Service

by Cantor Daniel Leeman

The Community Interfaith Hospice Memorial Service took place Sunday, November 5th at the Minnie Brown Center.

Every year, the regional Hospice Volunteer group has a memorial ceremony. All the names of the deceased whom Hospice has served in the past year are read aloud as a sign of love and respect. The ceremony has rotated each year to different houses of worship around the area. It is a way for bereaved families, clergy and the hospice volunteers to come together in a formal way with gratitude for the life of the departed. Often, a powerful bond is formed among caregivers who share a series of end-of-life experiences. This service is meant to strengthen those bonds even after the loved one departs.

For the past several years I've been invited to participate in the service, by reciting a memorial prayer for the departed souls. I do this together with a number of other individuals from various religious groups. We've had Buddhist participants, Native Indian poems read, and many other interesting musical and heartfelt expressions. It has been an honor this year that the Hospice leadership has asked to have the service take place at Beth Israel in Bath. The diversity and sincerity of expression has each year, made for a blessing to all who attend.

Alarm System

by Fred Weinberg

On November 1 we will be changing the pass code for the synagogue alarm system. If you have a key to the synagogue, please do no try to use it to enter the building until we have given you the new pass code. Setting off the alarm will result in both Northeast Security Systems being alerted and the police being called.

If you need the new pass code please contact Fred Weinberg or John Martell. We will be maintaining a list of who has the pass code. Please do not give the pass code to anyone other than your spouse. If someone else asks you for the code, please ask them to contact Fred or John.

Bowdoin Student Seeks Synagogue Members With Ties to BNAS for Interviews

by Beth Kowitt

I am a senior at Bowdoin, currently enrolled in the college's Maine Social Research course. The semester-long project involves looking at ties between the community and the Brunswick Naval Air Station. I am personally interested in looking at how religious organizations play a role in creating links between BNAS affiliates and the community. Interviewing a base employee or affiliate who is also involved with the synagogue would be extremely helpful to my research. If this is something you would be interested in doing, please email me, Beth Kowitt. Any time you can give me would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance for your consideration.

News from the Hebrew School

by Barbara Leeman

Hebrew school began on Wednesday, September 13th with much energy and excitement. Our schedule, as last year, includes time for Judaica: which includes Bible, Jewish Holidays, and Jewish History; and time for Hebrew language instruction: reading, writing and speaking. Before going to classes, our entire school assembles for a short prayer service. Each child will become more and more familiar with the afternoon (mincha) service. We assemble again at the end of the school day, and gather upstairs for Jewish Song: Israeli Folk, prayer and holiday melodies. This year we are also incorporating some additional items, such as Jewish cooking, more craft time, possibly more Israeli dancing, Jewish games and hopefully some special topics that we can delve into.

High Holiday Youth Services

Besides the classroom instruction, Denise Tepler led our Youth service on Rosh Hashanah and Jim Raker led the student service on Yom Kippur. Both were well attended, and the kids listened closely and jumped at the opportunities to participate. We thank both Denise and Jim for their thoughtful and interesting leadership of services, and for engaging our young people to participate. Many thanks.

Special thanks also go to Chris Schoenberg for baking delicious challah for the kids service. Lenore Friedland also made sure that apples and honey were available for the kids. Toda Raba (good job) to you both.


In honor of Sukkot, the children have had an opportunity to build and decorate a beautiful sukkah. We put our school sukkah together on October 4th. Many thanks to Campbell Clegg whose expertise can put the frame together in less than ten minutes. Each class made the famous paper chains, and many other decorations. One neat item we can save, were the wonderfully decorated banners provided by Susan Horowitz that the students hung to create walls. While in the Sukkah, Cantor Daniel gave the students an interesting description of what the lulav and etrog represent, and then a delicious snack was shared by all. Anna Boll who not only had her own students each create a very "sweet" graham cracker sukkah, had the whole school completely focused on a special story read in the sukkah to end the day.

Our congregation enjoyed having the oneg there, a nice clear night, following Friday night services (October 6th), and our Tot Shabbat service also had the oneg there the following week.

Kibbutz Sasa

On October 11th, Michael Kaplan, a distinguished lawyer from Portland, came to our school to share his stories and pictures of Kibbutz Sasa which his parents help to build during their years in Israel. He encouraged our children to learn more about life on a kibbutz and all of it's unique features, and introduced them to wonderful life experiences that he had while in Israel. His talk inspired many of our students to ask further questions about life in Israel. We thank Michael for taking the time to come to Bath and join us.

Tot Shabbat Services

Last year, our Tot Shabbat services were a big success. We are continuing them this year much the same way. Five Tot Shabbat services have been scheduled throughout the year. We are very excited about keeping this as a regular option for families with very small kids. This service is designed for kids from 1-8 years old.

The first Tot Shabbat, October 13th, was led by Monica Blatt. Monica's enthusiasm and spirit is completely contagious. A limited number of prayers were introduced to the kids. Some lively singing, and a harvest story about an apple tree had the kids completely consumed. We took a "field trip" down to the Minnie Brown center to celebrate in the sukkah. Hot cocoa and cider, along with many sukkah treats were served, as everyone enjoyed being together on a clear night. Monica even brought glow sticks to light up the way for all the little travelers. Many thanks to Monica for leading this during October. Our next Tot Shabbat is scheduled for December 1st. We will have two recent graduates, Rebecca Lewis and Rachel Schoenberg leading it. Please let anyone who has small kids know of this special service.

Simchat Torah

That Sunday, October 15th, we had our Simchat Torah celebration. A highlight of the Simchat Torah observance is a series of seven ceremonial processions around the synagogue in which people take turns at carrying the Torah scrolls. Called hakafot, which means encirclements, they are the vehicle for the expression of joy with the Torah. Hakafot has been compared to traditional Jewish weddings, where it refers to the bride's circling the groom seven times. Many regard the hakafot of Simchat Torah as wedding circuits, symbolizing marriage between Israel and the Law.

Everyone danced around the shul with the Torahs, singing and rejoicing as Cantor Daniel led us in many different joyous songs. Everyone that wanted, was able to hold the torah, and our last Hakafot was brought outside. A few drivers' heads turned as we enjoyed the beautiful weather, and our covenant with G-d. A potluck lunch followed, with good spirit.

Welcome to our newest families

We welcome the Trembley/Leiner family to our school. Their daughter Nadia has joined our Gan (kindergarten) class, and is already volunteering to lead prayers during our school prayer service. We also welcome back the Totman and Pols families. Although certainly not new to Beth Israel (Steve and Marina Singer's children), we are thrilled that their young children, Leah Totman and Isabella Pols are now able to join us. We welcome back our other returning families. We are thrilled to be back, learning and making new friends.

Welcome Back Teachers

We welcome back our wonderful teachers most who return from last year. Susan Horowitz returns this year, working with the Gan (Kindergarten/Preschool) group, twice a month. Marina Singer and Anna Boll split the Hebrew and Judaica portions of the Aleph (1st grade) and Bet (2nd grade) classes. Alina Shumsky and Cantor Daniel work with our Daled and Heh (4th-6th grade) classes. We welcome Anna Boll, new to our ranks, and are thrilled to have her many years of teaching experience guiding us.

Student Teachers and Parents Bring a Wealth of Knowledge

We are fortunate to have such talented student teachers. This is the 3rd and 4th year for many of them. Alec Brodsky, Michael Brodsky, Noah Lumsden, and Jane Martell. All bring wonderful spirit and knowledge to our school. Jane helps with the Aleph and Bet class. Noah is helping in the Daled and Heh class. Alec is offering conversational hebrew to recent Hebrew school graduates, and Michael is offering a Torah troupe class. Each of our student teachers is a treasure, and we are very lucky to have them.

Our many thanks go to those parents who have already been so involved and helpful with so many of the extras we normally take for granted. Susan Horowitz has been providing snacks weekly for the kids, Campbell Clegg's leadership with the parent committee amongst so many other things, Marie Pressman who has taken on the role of treasurer are just a few of the many extras we appreciate.

Those parents who stay during the prayer service, or come early to hear the singing leave with nachas and joy at the excitement with which the kids begin and end their lessons. Our teachers are clearly capturing their attention and we all are grateful.

In the coming weeks and months, each of the Hebrew school classes will have a chance to demonstrate their accomplishments by leading a Friday night Shabbat service. Our Heh class will lead on December 8th. This group includes: Quin Boyd, William Connelly, Sarah Gallimore, Gina Maris and Zachary Miller. We encourage every member of our congregation and greater community to attend these special services. Your attendance and support will inspire our students to continue their effort towards a quality Jewish education. Please mark your calendars.

On December 17th our Hebrew school, will join with the congregation to celebrate Chanukah together with a community wide Chanukah party. Please mark your calendars. More information on that will be passed along as it is available.

For anyone who is interested, there is a parent group that meets at 4:30 pm during Hebrew school, once a month. The next meeting will be December 6th. Please consider coming to join us. We look forward to a year of learning and fun.

Progressive Sukkot:
Have Lulav, Will Travel

by Anna J. Boll

Members of the Beth-Israel congregation spilled out of the Horowitz-Gersh sukkah into the bright sunshine of a beautiful October day as Cantor Daniel explained the significance of Sukkot. This was the beginning a progressive Sukkot that had families playing and parading from one sukkah to the next. We broke bread, sipped soup and blessed the booths we call sukkahs.

After the Gersh/Horowitz home, we had a chance to sample the hospitality of the Leeman's, and Sreden's. Thank you to Susan, Robert, Barbara, Daniel, Mary, Hal and their families for welcoming us. Thanks to all who brought delicious food to share. Thanks to Cantor Daniel and Robert Gersh for leading prayers, songs, and showing us all how to shake the lulav, and etrog.

High Holiday Flowers

Jim Raker sponsored the flowers for Rosh Hashanah. For Yom Kippur it was Lola Lea, Daniel & Barb Leeman, Sharon Drake, (in memory of her father, Edward Kravitz and mother, Esther Gear) and Karen & Matt Filler in memory of their parents, (Gerald & Frances Feldman & Morris and Gladys Filler).

New Members

Welcome new members to our congregation
  • Seth and Laurie Ovadia
  • Selma Blatt


Friends of Beth Israel Congregation
  • Margaret Bromberg of Sag Harbor, N.Y. and Christmas Cove, ME
  • Jeremy and Joan Fields
  • Nettie Friedland
  • Robert and Barbara Lenox of Califon, NJ
  • Bob Lobis
  • Jodi Seiden Rice and Alex Rice
  • Gertrude Rosner
  • Priscilla Schwartz
Members of Beth Israel Congregation
  • Karen and Matthew Filler
  • Maurie Libner
  • Herb and Harriet Paris
  • Steve and Marina Singer
  • Jill and Arnie Standish
  • Dr. Steven Stern and Arlene Morris
  • Sharon Drake in honor of Robert Gersh and Susan Horowitz
Jay and Lenore Friedland in memory of
  • Israel Itzkowitz, father
  • Evelyn Polster
Daniel and Barbara Leeman in memory of
  • Albert Goldenstein, father
Daniel and Susan Levey in memory of
  • Bertha Applebaum, mother
  • Leo and Shirley Levey, parents
Rea Turet and Sandy Polster in memory of
  • Evelyn Miller Polster, mother
Fred and Marilyn Weinberg in memory of
  • Max Isacoff, father
  • Marvin Weinberg, father
  • Frances Weinberg, mother
  • Evelyn Polster