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Beth Israel Congregation

Beth Israel Congregation Newsletter

September/October 2008
Elul/Tishrei/Chesvan 5768/5769

What We Can Learn From a Muzzled Ox
Flowers for the High Holidays
Shabbat Under the Stars
Book Change Volunteers Needed
Rosh Hashanah Community Luncheon
Yom Kippur Break Fast
Sukkot Celebration
Jewish Veterans from Maine
Birthdays and Anniversaries
Raffle Ticket
Donations and Welcomes
Youth Activities and News from the Hebrew School
Yizkor Book
Yahrzeit Dates Needed
Order Your Jewish Calendar Now
Bath Heritage Days Fundraiser
Brunswick Area Interfaith Council

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

What We Can Learn From a Muzzled Ox

by Cantor Daniel Leeman

In Deuteronomy 25:4 we learn a simple lesson. Don’t muzzle an ox while he’s threshing. On its face, the prohibition shows compassion for a working beast. The law is meant to prevent farmers from trying to save time or grain by muzzling their ox as he threshes. The exhausting work of stomping stalks or dragging a threshing sledge apparently deserves a divinely inspired occasional nibble when instinctively tempted by such a delicious bounty of tasty grain. One could go so far as to interpret the muzzling of one’s ox under these circumstances as a type of cruelty.

There are several laws in the Torah, which prevent cruelty to animals. For example, in this portion alone we send away the mother bird before taking the eggs or chicks, so she won’t be horrified by witnessing her loss. Another example included here prohibits farmers from placing an ox and a donkey on the same yoke when plowing. Apparently, the strength or height differential between the beasts of burden would amount to a form of cruelty to one or the other, or both animals.

The standard rabbinic analysis of these laws almost always include something like the following: If we Jews are required by G-d to show such care and compassion to farm animals, how much more so should we show even greater kindness and compassion to our fellow human beings.

This past week the first military tribunal was convened to try a Guantanamo detainee. Apparently we’re finally seeking some form of justice for them. The US Department of Justice was abused and hijacked to permit a variety of interrogation techniques that amount to torture. Shall we say the concept of an independent judiciary has been "trampled" of late? Shall we say employing water-boarding as an interrogation technique "stomps" on the golden rule?

Attorney General Michael Mukasey appears to have finally applied some reasonable standards to this endeavor. He seems to realize that even though these individuals may have allied themselves with our enemies, they are still human beings. He’s decided to use the strength of his office to oversee and interface with these arcane tribunals to expedite a type of peaceful resolution to a seemingly endless misery in Cuba.

Can you imagine what it would be like to be held for almost six years of your life in a foreign country without charge or hearing? Would you feel like a muzzled ox?

What would happen to such a beast after finishing his work when his master removes the muzzle? Do you think he may be prone to violent outbursts or aggression?

In preparation for Rosh Hashanah, as we review our individual and collective actions over the course of this past year, let’s thank G-d for what appears to be some limited, but hopeful return toward justice.

Flowers for the High Holidays

by Marina Singer

If you are interested in contributing towards the flowers for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, please contact Marina Singer. You will be sending your donation for the flowers to Marilyn. And if you would like to, send the names of the people you are remembering or honoring with the flowers to Marina.

Shabbat Under the Stars

by Lenore Friedland

Please join us on September 5th at 7:00 pm to enjoy a special Shabbat service full of music to be held in Library Park. Bring a chair or blanket to sit on and let's usher in Shabbat and enjoy the outdoors together. (In case of inclement weather, we will be at the Minnie Brown Center.)

After the service we will have an Oneg Shabbat at Minnie Brown Center.

Book Change Volunteers Needed

by Marilyn Weinberg

On Sunday, September 21st at 10:00 am, we will be changing over the books and preparing the synagogue for the High Holidays. If you could possibly help, please come. The more hands we have, the easier and faster it will be.

Rosh Hashanah Community Luncheon

by Marilyn Weinberg

Rosh Hashanah is the time we all come together as a community. We thought it would be a wonderful time to extend that connection by sharing a meal together.

We will begin our first Rosh Hashanah luncheon at the Minnie Brown Center immediately following morning services on Tuesday, September 30th at approximately 1:00 pm. It will be a great opportunity to catch up with each other and share some delicious food for which our members are known. We will then go together for a Tashlicht service at the waterfront in Bath at approximately 2:00 pm.

You can drop off a "non-meat" dish at the Minnie Brown Center before you come to services. We hope we are beginning a wonderful new tradition for Beth Israel.

Yom Kippur Break Fast

by Marilyn Weinberg

This year our annual potluck break fast will begin at 7:00 pm, right after we blow the Shofar signaling the end of Yom Kippur. There is something very special about being together to break the fast. You can drop off food any time on the 8th or the 9th of October.

Sukkot Celebration

by Marilyn Weinberg

On Sunday, October 19, from 12:00 2:30 pm, we will celebrate Sukkot with our Annual Pot Luck Progressive Sukkot event. We will share food and bless three different sukkahs. You will be receiving a special flyer with the details. We have a great day planned, so mark your calendars now.

Calling on all Jewish Veterans from Maine, and their Families and Friends

by Cantor Daniel Leeman

A new proposal has recently been publicized to build a monument in a Federal Military cemetery in Augusta to honor Maine's Jewish war veterans who were killed in action during wartime. We are now in the process of collecting the names of Jewish veterans from our region of Maine who perished in battle. These can include any of our nation's conflicts. They needn't be your immediate relatives or friends. Even partial information may be sufficient because their full identities can possibly be verified through military records.

The Nathan Cummings Post 99 of Maine is a branch of the Jewish War Veterans of America. Its Commander is James M. Friedlander of Brunswick. Its membership is primarily in Cumberland and York counties. He has recently been collecting information from Jewish organizations all over the State of Maine. He explained to me over the phone that because many Jewish Mainers have moved out of State, a lot of the responses to his recent enquiries have arrived from afar. These were from loved ones who heard about this project and wanted to honor the sacrifice of their Jewish brothers and sisters from Maine who paid the ultimate price for our nation. Now it's our turn to participate in this important project. So please send in or phone in the names of Jewish individuals you know about from Maine who died defending our country.

Post 99, Maine's Jewish War Veterans Organization is also looking for new recruits. The organization meets once a year near Memorial Day for a Sunday breakfast, and is seeking new members. These may include Jewish veterans from Maine, or those who currently reside in Maine, who would like to join and revitalize the group.

On behalf of our congregation, I would like to thank Commander Friedlander for his service to Post 99, and to our country. I would also like to thank him for his efforts to bring this important project to fruition. I would also like to thank ALL US military veterans for their service and their sacrifice, as we offer this opportunity for Jewish Veterans of Maine to unite with their comrades. Please help us work for the clear recognition of our Jewish service men and women in all branches of the military. Now is the time for you to help us honor their contributions to the United States of America's survival and safety.

You can contact Commander James M. Friedlander.

You can also send information to:
Cantor Daniel J. Leeman
906 Washington Street
Bath, ME 04530

Birthdays and Anniversaries

by Barbara Leeman

In the last issue of the newsletters, it was mentioned that we would be starting a new section to wish others in our synagogue community well on each simcha (happy occasion), by listing "Birthdays and Anniversaries" that occur during the month of the newsletters. We only list the month and day, not the year. It is a wonderful way for our community/shul family to have an excuse to celebrate with each other. I have listed the few that I have. Please send along all birthdays and anniversaries of your family to me so that I can compile them each month.


  • September
    • 12 - Abby Sreden
    • 12 - Zoe Sreden
    • 20 - Zelda Clegg
  • October
    • 8 - Beth Pols
    • 22 - Shira Gersh


  • September
    • 29 - Lisa Tessler and Mark Ireland

Raffle Tickets

by Stan lane

The Rubin family, long time members of Beth Israel Congregation, has offered us an extraordinary challenge gift of one week, the last week in February, at the Marriott Canyon Villas in Phoenix, Arizona. (Transportation to Arizona not included).

The winner will receive a timeshare suite, for 4 people, for the price of a $50 raffle ticket. We will only be selling 100 tickets. Tickets will be available from any board member.

You can thank Donna and Peter Rubin, now living in Scarborough, by purchasing a raffle ticket, and helping to make this synagogue fundraiser a big success.

Donations and Welcomes

We would like to thank the following people for their donations:

  • Steve & Marina Singer in memory of Philip Gotlib
  • Steve & Marina Singer in memory of Bessie Singer & Henrietta Shapiro
  • Marilyn & Fred Weinberg in memory of Max Isacoff
  • Stacy & Cristina Giulianti
  • Susan Abt
  • Robert & Barbara Lenox in memory of Anita Dekelbaum
  • Norma Dreyfus & Stan Lane in memory of Morris Goldberg
  • Dan & Susan Levey in memory of Leo & Shirley Levey
  • Janice Povich in memory of Donald Povich & Harry Goldstein
  • Joan & Jeremy Fields in memory of Arthur Blatt
  • Rea Turet & Sandor Polster in memory of Lillian Turet, Rosaline Lasher & Mary Libert
  • Rea Turet & Sandor Polster in memory of Evelyn & Martin Polster
  • Jay & Lenore Friedland in honor of Marilyn Weinberg's birthday
  • Jay & Lenore Friedland in memory of Israel Itzkowitz
  • Fred Weinberg in honor of Marilyn's birthday

Youth Activities and News from the Hebrew School

by Barbara Leeman

Hebrew School begins September 10th at 4:00 pm

For all current members, and previous students, be on the look out for emails and website updates.

For anyone new, interested in information, please send your name, phone number, or email address to

Tot Shabbats

Tot Shabbats return to Beth Israel congregation. These "family style" Shabbats take place at 6:30 pm and are designed for families with young children, although all ages are welcome to attend. We learn some prayers, sing songs and listen to a story. Services last approximately 30 minutes, and are a great way to introduce young kids to our Jewish community.

The first Tot Shabbat of the year will be held as a Family Sukkot service, on October 17th. For this October service we will have our "Oneg" in the synagogue's sukkah. This program takes the place of our regular Friday night service.

Our second scheduled Tot Shabbat service will be December 19th during Chanukah.

Kindergarten/Preschool Classes

Our Kindergarten/Preschool class (Gan) will begin September 10th at 4:00 pm. This is a wonderful opportunity for any families with younger children to have time for Jewish learning through crafts, songs, cooking, stories and more. The class will be meeting generally twice a month this year on Wednesday afternoons. Tuition will be $200 for the year.

If you are interested in enrolling your child, please email at 443-4606 so that we can get an accurate count of class size.

Last Hebrew School Year in Pictures

Pictures from our 2007-2008 Hebrew school year have been pulled together into the latest photo show. Here is our Beth Israel Hebrew School in action. The show has music that goes with it, so please don't forget to turn up the volume. Feel free to send the link to anyone who you feel may be interested in sending their children to our school, or anyone else who may be interested in our school.

We take pride and joy in seeing our students in their many activities. We delight in seeing them learn and develop as all our teachers aspire to nurture their young Jewish souls. We want you to share in the vitality and varied activities that are taking place at our Hebrew school. Enjoy!

To view the slide show, go to our web site and click on the Hebrew School picture.

Open House

For all those interested in learning more about our Hebrew school, there will be an open house, on Tuesday, September 3rd, at 5:00 pm, at the Minnie Brown Center (906 Washington Street, Bath). This will be a great opportunity to take a tour of our school, hear about our curriculum, ask about our teachers, and hear about our programs. We look forward to meeting you.

If you are new, or still deciding whether to send your child to Beth Israel Hebrew school, please try to come, or call 443-4606 to get more information.

High Holiday Youth Services at the Minnie Brown Center

Rosh Hashanah - September 30th 11:00 am Yom Kippur - October 9th 11:00 am The service is designed for children aged 7-11 years but others should feel free to join in.

An announcement will be made at the adult service just before 11:00 am, so that you are reminded to walk your child to the Minnie Brown Center. You can either stay with your child, or rejoin the adult service. Your child will be brought back to the adult service at the conclusion of the Youth service if you are not there. Those with younger children are encouraged to stay.

A snack for the children will be provided (only on Rosh Hashanah). Please contact Denise Tepler at 729-4018 or Barbara Leeman at 443-5540 for more information.

L'Shana Tovah Umetukah, a sweet and a good new year.

Thank You

Thank you to Mara and Don Giulianti for donating a computer to Beth Israel. This creates opportunities for the students to be in touch with other Jewish students through pen pal opportunities, and for other uses in their Hebrew school classes. We are grateful.

Join the Sukkot Fun

Our Hebrew School family will be building our community/school Sukkah behind the Minnie Brown Center on Sunday, October 12th at 10:00 am. We'll be putting up the frame, and making decorations. Please come and fulfill the mitzvah (commandment) of helping to build and beautify our Holiday Sukkah. Everyone is welcome. Sukkot is a reminder that it isn't really the brick and mortar, or plaster and wood that protect us.

Simchat Torah Celebration
October 22nd at the Synagogue

  • 5:00 pm is the Simchat Torah Service
  • 6:00 pm-ish Pot Luck Dairy/Vegetarian Meal (Pizza will be provided. Please bring a salad or dessert item to share.)

Yizkor Book

by Lenore Friedland

Lola Lea has once again volunteered to do our Yizkor book. She does a beautiful job each year. She has requested your listings be e-mailed to her no later than September 15th.

Even if you have had a listing in the book in previous years, you need to give her the list again. She needs the name of the person and their relationship to you.

Donations should be sent to Marilyn Weinberg.

Yahrzeit Dates Needed

by Marilyn Weinberg

It is our custom to remember our loved ones on the anniversary of their death and to say Kaddish for them on that day. If you have lost a loved one over the past years and would like them to be remembered, please send the dates of their passing, their name and relationships to you to Marilyn Weinberg. Their names will be added to our list and you will receive a written notice each year to remind you of this date. Please note that the Yizkor book that Lola Lea is doing for the High Holidays is separate from this.

Order Your Jewish Calendar Now

by Marina Singer

If you are interested in purchasing a Jewish calendar please contact Marina Singer. By placing orders in advance, we can avoid overstocking them as has happened in the past. Orders are needed by September 4th.

Bath Heritage Days Fundraiser

by Peggy Brown

Beth Israel Congregation led off its fund raising efforts this year with a new idea - participation in Bath Heritage Days. Friends of Patten Free Library gave us the idea by asking to rent the Minnie Brown Center for its annual book sale. Why not set up a table to sell water and snacks to thirsty book browsers? This idea quickly expanded to setting up a second table on the library park lawn itself. We would now have two locations where we could sell bottled water, small packaged snacks and fresh fruit cups to the foot traffic out for a summer day in Bath.

A planning meeting of interested volunteers was held in June. With donations from generous members we bought and stacked up bottled water in one of the Hebrew School classrooms. Lenore Friedland went shopping for snacks. Barbara Leeman began filling the freezer with ice. We started calling for volunteers. Signs were made, coolers were brought, and cash for making change was made ready.

For the three days of the Heritage Days, Beth Israel Congregation members sold water and schmoozed with visitors out for a lovely summer day in the park. We made some money, too! We cleared over $500 in sales.

Would we do this again? Absolutely. We earned some money and there were some added benefits that made this endeavor worthwhile:

  • We increased awareness of our presence in the community.
  • We got members of the congregation involved in working together.
  • Friendships were formed.

What will we do differently next year?

  • Our younger members (children) are excellent sales people. We will ask them to help us out more!
  • We need to increase sales. We're looking for a tasty, easy to deliver item which people want on a summer day in the park. Let us know if you have a good idea.
  • We need to dress up our tables a bit more to look more "professional"

Thank you to the organizers, donors of money, food, water and ice and to the volunteers who manned the tables! Mara, Donnie, Christine and Stacy Giulanti; Barbara, Hannah, Sam and Ariel Leeman; Marilyn Weinberg; Lenore and Jay Friedland; Stan Lane and Norma Dreyfus; Donnie and Quinn Spiegleman-Boyd; Rea Turet; Joanne Rosenthal; Linda Silberstein and Larry Loeb; Seth and Laurie Ovadia; Andy and Jacob Hagler; Nonny Soifer; Sophie and Noa Sreden; Marina Singer; Edna White; Ruth and Ed Benedik; Beth and Dennis Westman; Lisa Tremblay, Lee and Nadia Leiner, Ann, Becca and Jess Lewis and Peggy Brown

Brunswick Area Interfaith Council

by Ed Benedikt
Beth Israel Representative to Brunswick Area Interfaith Council

Beth Israel is proud to be a member of the Brunswick Area Interfaith Council. Roughly ten years ago Rabbi Ruth initiated our involvement in this predominantly "clergy" group, and Ruth and I were the Beth Israel representatives. Ruth's outreach was partly in frustration at not being able to form some coalition of clergy in Bath. The group meets monthly, with attendance varying between 10 and 30, and although these are not public meetings, members frequently bring guests. There is a fee of $5 for attendance to cover costs.

The meetings are held on the 2nd Wednesday of each month from 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm and the agenda varies radically. For example, last September's meeting gave an overview of the history of the Roman Catholic Church, while the October 2007 meeting discussed methods of screening applicants for welfare assistance to individual religious organizations, so that it is possible to identify people who are abusing the service without each organization hiring screening staff.

The November 2008 meeting is being hosted by Beth Israel. The agenda has not yet been set, but based on questions I get, I propose an explanation of our status as an "unaffiliated" synagogue as well as clarification of what is meant by Reform, Reconstruction, Conservative and Orthodox Judaism. When we hosted this group some years ago we had more than 30 attendees. Ruth Benedikt, Chris Schoenberg and I did the actual hosting. I see the need for the same number of hosts and I hope you will consider joining us.

Regarding past charitable projects: The Brunswick Area Interfaith Council has been involved both in specific undertakings as well as program endorsements. Some projects that come to mind include the following:

  • Explanation and visits to the "Plant Home" in Bath, Hospice programs and assisted health care facilities.
  • The Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen programs for which Beth Israel's involvement is a direct result of contacts made through this group.
  • Initiation of the Chaplaincy program at MidCoast Hospital in which Cantor Daniel Leeman is an active participant.
  • Providing financial support for the Brunswick Hunger Prevention Project and Tedford Housing.
  • Involvement in "social action" initiatives such as the Sister Cities program between Brunswick and Trinidad and currently are advocating for an "affordable" public transportation system for Brunswick and Topsham.
We are pleased to be the host of the November meeting, and have the opportunity to share our sanctuary and synagogue with the council members and describe our religious activities.