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Beth Israel Congregation


Beth Israel Congregation Newsletter

July/August 2009
Tammuz/Av/Elul 5769

Beth Israel Is Going "Green"
President's Message
Maine Goes to Israel
Tisha B'Av
Beth Israel Representative Needed
Fund Raising Committee
Dues & Tuition
Return of the Summer Breakfast Bunch
Announcing New Book Club
Calling All Teens
New Board Members
Give and Go
News from the Hebrew School
Birthdays and Anniversaries

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

Beth Israel Is Going "Green"

by Marilyn Weinberg

In order to save money and the environment, our newsletter will be delivered online via e-mail. It will be a PDF version that will be easy for you to read online and/or print individual pages if needed. This will begin with our September/October newsletter.

If you would like a paper version mailed to you instead of receiving a PDF, contact Marilyn Weinberg by August 15. Make sure that the Weinberg's have your current e-mail address so you won't miss out on the next important newsletter.

President's Message

by Marilyn Weinberg

When I first attended High Holiday services at Beth Israel in the fall of 1976, I met a wonderful older gentleman (close to ninety years old). He was our president Abe Kramer and had served in that capacity for the previous forty years. His job was to find somebody to lead High Holiday services (no easy feat) and to run a Yahrzeit service when needed. There was a women's group that ran rummage sales and held suppers to raise money that was used by the men's group to spend on the upkeep of the building. At that time there was no board of directors and no Hebrew school.

Our board is a fairly new institution at Beth Israel Congregation. In our wisdom (or we might say the "Abe Kramer clause") we have written a term limit into our by-laws so that no one person has to feel obligated to serve in a leadership role for more than two terms. Each term lasts for three years. So even though we have just lost some wonderful board members in Andy Hagler & Campbell Clegg, we have gained two very capable new board members. Lisa Tessler and Hal Sreden have both agreed to volunteer their time to serve on the board for the next three years. They each bring new ideas and a fresh perspective on how we function.

As we approach the next few months please take time to say thank you to those who have served on the board and to communicate your ideas with the present board members so we can try to make Beth Israel serve the needs of all of our members. The list of current board members with their contact information is in our newsletter. Abe Kramer would be proud of what we have accomplished in recent years.

Maine Goes to Israel

by Daniel Leeman

Have you ever been to Israel? Would you like to go? Would you like to make a return trip?

Now may be a wonderful opportunity to plan a trip with your entire family, together with other fellow members of our Congregation and Hebrew School.

We are now in the initial phases of planning a statewide trip, sponsored by five Maine synagogues and growing.

The kernel of this idea came from Rabbi Steve Schwarzman, the new rabbi of the Beth Israel of Bangor who came to visit our school and synagogue in Bath, recently. After I gave him a tour of our facilities we met together with Rabbi Braun of Temple Beth El in Portland, where he shared his idea. This week, Rabbi Akiva Hertzfeld of Shaarey Tphiloh of Portland phoned me to express interest in this trip as well. Rabbi Susan Bulba Carvutto of Augusta is also planning to include members of Temple Beth El on this trip. It would be wonderful if we can gather enough interested folks to send a delegation from our Bath/ Brunswick/Midcoast region on this trip to Israel scheduled for next February 10-21, 2010.

Some of the teachers in our Hebrew School are very excited about bringing some of our students and/or graduates and their parents, during a school vacation period, on this trip as well.

Overall, the idea of spending 10 days traveling throughout the Holy Land with faithful Jews, and ardent supporters of Israel who choose to live, work and worship in Maine, is an inspiring prospect for me.

I hope you'll decide to join us. The cost will be $2999 per person including airfare. There'll be an informational meeting and discussion of the plan details, inclusions, exclusions, special arrangements, etc. after the Oneg, 8:30-9:00 pm, Friday evening, July 17th downstairs at the chapel building.

For more information contact me, Cantor Daniel Leeman at 207-443-4606 or write to

Tisha B'Av

by Daniel Leeman

Tisha B'Av, the Fast of the Ninth of Av, is a day of mourning to commemorate the many tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people, many of which coincidentally have occurred on the ninth of Av. Tisha B'Av means "the ninth (day) of Av." This day primarily commemorates the destruction of the first and second Temples, both of which were destroyed on the ninth of Av (the first by the Babylonians in 586 B.C.E.; the second by the Romans in 70 C.E.). It is also appropriate to consider on this day the many other tragedies of the Jewish people, many of which occurred on this day, most notably the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492.

Tisha B'Av is the culmination of a three-week period of increasing mourning, beginning with the fast of the 17th of Tammuz, which commemorates the first breach in the walls of Jerusalem, before the First Temple was destroyed.

The restrictions on Tisha B'Av are similar to those on Yom Kippur. Work in the ordinary sense of the word is somewhat restricted. Many of the traditional mourning practices are observed: people refrain from smiles, laughter and idle conversation, and sit on low stools in the synagogue. The book of Lamentations is read and mourning prayers are recited. The velvet cover of the ark (cabinet where the Torah is kept) is draped.

Please come, and help make a minyan for this important service.

Beth Israel Representative Needed

by Lenore Friedland

The Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine allocates money to our Hebrew School each month according to a formula based on their donations. This money is given to several synagogues to help preserve Jewish education. As you know, we are in desperate need of money to help keep our school going forward. All the JCA asks is that we have a representative to their Board. It involves attending one meeting a month in Portland at the Jewish Community Center on Ashmont Street (just off of Forest Avenue). After representing Beth Israel for the last two years, Lenore Friedland needs to step down from her post. If anyone is interested in being a part of this wonderful organization which supports the Levi Day School, runs a day camp, preschool, baseball field, donates directly to Israel etc. please call Lenore. It is important that someone steps up because without representation we run the risk of losing this funding.

Fund Raising Committee

by Marilyn Weinberg

The financial news at the annual meeting was similar to that of previous years. We continue to have a significant gap in our budget. Unless there is a major benefactor out there that would like to help, we need to do some serious fundraising.

This past year we raised $3,200 by selling drinks in the park, participating in the Bowdoin Give & Go and selling raffle tickets for a timeshare in Phoenix. We would like to raise even more this year. We have discussed having an auction in the near future as well as some additional fundraising activities. We need people who will help make this happen. These programs can be fun for all of us but do require some work. If you would be willing to help out on at least one fundraising activity please contact me.

Dues & Tuition

by Rea Turet

Each year Beth Israel Congregation operates at a deficit. The dues, tuition and donations primarily pay our staff, and some of our operating costs. Because we are a small congregation, with only 70 families, we depend on everyone to contribute. We are happy to accept monthly payments.

An added note: If your child is going to our Hebrew School, or is becoming a bar/bat mitzvah this year, the Board has agreed that you must pay membership dues.

This year, the dues and the tuition remain the same as last year:

  • Benefactor: $1,500
  • Donor: $1,000
  • Family: $650 or $550 (both members over 65)
  • Single: $450 or $350 (member over 65)
  • Tuition: $ 375 (each child)

The dues bill will be sent out in August. The new address will be: Treasurer, Beth Israel Congregation, 906 Washington Street, Bath 04530.

Return of the Summer Breakfast Bunch

by Marilyn Weinberg

Members and friends of the Beth Israel Congregation are invited to come together for an informal summer Friday morning breakfast. Come and meet, have a bite to eat, enjoy a cup of coffee/tea, and sit and chat. Meet new members and renew friendships with those you haven't seen in a while. No need to RSVP, just come. Questions, call Marilyn Weinberg or Lenore Friedland. We will meet on the following days through the summer:

  • July 10, 9:00 am at Mae's Cafe (Bath)
  • July 24, 9:00 am at Wild Oat's (Brunswick - you can pick up some challah too)
  • August 7, 9:00 am at T.B.D.
  • August 21, 9:00 am at T.B.D.

Announcing New Book Club

by Barbara Lenox

Have you ever just finished reading a good book and felt frustrated because you had no one to discuss it with? Well, we can help you with that. Come join the newly formed Beth Israel Jewish Book Club. We will meet monthly to discuss the wonderful assortment of books dealing with the Jewish experience.

Join our first meeting and help select books you would like to read and discuss. Our first meeting will be August 20th at 7:00 pm at the home of Marilyn Weinberg. We will discuss The Faith Club, written jointly by Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Olive and Priscilla Warner. It is the account of three women of different faiths who met regularly to see if they could find common ground within their respective religious traditions. The book is in paperback and available at Amazon. Any comments, questions, suggestions, please e-mail Barbara Lenox.

Calling All Teens

by Marilyn Weinberg

Several years ago it was decided to add a teen member to our board. Both Alec and Michael Brodsky have filled this role and now they are off to college. We will miss their input and want to make sure we have the "voice of youth" represented on our board.

To qualify, a student must be post Bar/Bat Mitzvah and be involved on some level with Jewish activities. There will be up to two positions available for teens. Although they would be non-voting members, we would listen to their opinions and ideas. Their term would be for one year with the option to continue for a second year.

We invite any interested teens to apply. They must write a letter of interest describing why they want to be on the board and what they could contribute if they are selected. Letters should be addressed to Marilyn Weinberg.

New Board Members

by Robert Gersh

At its Annual Congregation meeting on June 7, 2009, two members of the congregation, Lisa Tessler and Dr. Hal Sreden, were unanimously voted to become Board of Directors to replace the two outgoing members Andy Hagler and Campbell Clegg, who had reached the end of their terms. We are excited that Lisa and Hal have joined our Board.

Lisa Tessler

Lisa Tessler currently serves as Director of Donor Relations at Colby College, where she is responsible for campaign event planning, stewardship of major gifts, and presidential acknowledgments. Prior to joining Colby, she was the Director of the Career Planning Center at Bowdoin College and also held administrative posts at NYU School of Law and Northeastern University School of Law.

Lisa served on the Capital Campaign Committee to build the new Topsham Public Library and is a former board member of the Women's Counseling Project, Inc. in New York City. She received her bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College and her master's degree in Counseling and Consulting Psychology from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

In addition to her professional pursuits, Lisa moonlights as an international folk dance instructor. She is married to Mark Ireland and they have one son, Julian, who will be preparing for his bar mitzvah this year.

Dr. Hal Sreden, MD

Dr. Hal Sreden is a member the Mid Coast Medical Group in Brunswick, with a practice specializing in pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine. He is the director of the Mid Coast Sleep Disorders Center, a fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and is a member of the Maine Sleep Disorders Network. As a member of the Department of Medicine, he serves on several Mid Coast Hospital and Maine Health committees, including Pharmacy and Therapeutics, Critical Care, and Ethics.

Raised in Chicago, Dr. Sreden attended the University of Illinois, where he was an Avery Brundage scholar and received his undergraduate degree in Bioengineering. This led to a post-graduate research position with the U.S. Olympic Committee in Colorado Springs. He returned to the University of Illinois for medical school and completed his residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Minnesota, where he held a faculty position in the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery. He first came to Maine in 1994 for a fellowship in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Maine Medical Center, followed by a second fellowship, in Neurophysiology/Sleep Medicine, at the University of Chicago. After two years of private practice in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Dr. Sreden returned to Maine in 2000. He lives in Bath with his wife, Mary, and four daughters, Zoe, Abby, Noa and Sophie. They are active in the congregation and enjoy all that Maine has to offer.

Give and Go Sale Raises Over $1000 for Beth Israel

by Barbara Leeman

Each spring, our community awaits the "Give and Go." As Bowdoin College 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). This year, the "Give and Go" raised approximately $41,000 dollars for area non-profits. There were 25 organizations selected that helped work just over 2700 hours. The profits are distributed to each organization based on the number of hours they contribute. Each hour was worth approximately $13 this year. Each year that amount changes. We are happy to say that Beth Israel volunteered 86 hours and will receive over $1000 for our efforts.

I am so pleased to report that we had 15 people who were able to volunteer some time to help Beth Israel. Many more of our members volunteered, but each organization was given a limited number of shifts, in order to make sure that as many organizations as possible benefited. Special thanks to the Boyd family and to Nonny Soifer for working multiple shifts. Each of the people below not only helped to raise money for Beth Israel and slow down the waste that fills the Brunswick landfill, but also had the opportunity to get some incredible bargains in the process. This was an easy fundraiser, one that I would like to have Beth Israel participate in again next year. When you see the announcement next year, please consider signing up for a shift. You'll be amazed at how much fun you'll have.

Thank you to the following people who all worked this year at the Give and Go.

Allegra, Chris, Donnie, Morgan, and Quin Boyd, Campbell Clegg, Barbara and Hannah Leeman, Harriet Paris, Jeanie Schaffer, Tammy Shirley, Kermit Smyth, Nonny Soifer, Rea Turet, and Marilyn Weinberg.

News from the Hebrew School

by Barbara Leeman

At this time of the year, we have the opportunity to reflect on our Hebrew school year. What worked, and what didn't?

With just a few hours a week, we try to accomplish so much. We know that striving to create fluent, Hebrew speaking Torah scholars, with a depth of understanding and commitment to our Jewish customs and values, is a high goal to set. We always strive however, to reach that. Seeing each of these kids together each week, praying, studying, and singing, is a joy. There is a real camaraderie amongst them. Our children will one day look back and compare their Hebrew school days to those available for their own children. They will remember the games, their friends, the parties, and hopefully even their studies.

The commitment that our teachers make to provide a quality Jewish education is heart-warming. The commitment that our families make to bring their students to classes each week, contributes to the success of our program. So many of our parents also give generously of their time to help our school.

Let us be confident that our children will speak with pride and confidence as they reminisce in their future.

What Did They Learn?

In addition to our regular curriculum, our theme this year was learning the "613 Commandments" contained within our Torah. Given to us on Mount Sinai as a special gift to make our lives good, the 613 laws function as our guidebook for life. All our traditions, customs, and values are based on these rules. The version we used were based on the writings of the Rambam, also known as Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, or Maimonides (a twelfth century physician and bible scholar). He divided them in basic thematic categories, so we could more easily integrate them into our lives. Some of the laws can only be fulfilled in Israel. Some of the laws cannot be fulfilled today as they are associated with Temple times and its sacrifices. Yet, the regular public reading of the Torah, on Holidays like Simchat Torah, where we celebrate the annual completion of the readings, as well as the wearing of the Tallit (the prayer shawl), all function as wonderful reminders and symbols of our commitment to embrace all 613 laws and make them part of the fabric of our lives, and our hopes for our future.

Every grade level learned age appropriate lessons associated with this theme. The Aleph class illustrated some of their favorite laws while the Bet class discussed at length why some were more significant to them. A favorite law included a discussion about the Nazarites, who they are, and why they can't eat fresh grapes or cut their hair. The Aleph and Bet class made many crafts as each unit was studied. Our school now boasts a huge Hanukkiah (9-branch menorah) in the social hall, along with Noah's ark, courtesy of our Aleph and Bet classes.

In Hebrew, these classes focused more on their comfort with reading, and getting the pronunciation of the Hebrew vowels right. A workbook that teaches Hebrew through prayer was very helpful with this.

The Daled class spent some time on bible stories from a children's text book entitled "The Torah and You" which told dozens of famous stories from the time of creation and the flood, through Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, as well as Joseph and his brothers. The book ended with the death of Moses. After each story, written simply and faithfully to the original text, were "Values Clarification Exercises" which focused on what important lesson a child can take away from each of the stories of our bible heroes. Isn't it wonderful how the bible shows both their human frailty, as well as their towering faith in G-d, and great capacity for expressions of compassion and kindness to their fellow human being.

This class was bursting with energy, and filled with enthusiasm for what the stories were all about, and how we can integrate them into our lives. It's amazing how bright, talented and insightful our young people are at such tender ages.

The Heh class learned many prayers and the translation of these prayers included in the Kabbalat Shabbat service, the Shacharit service and the Torah service during Hebrew class. They selected their favorites to create a graduation ceremony.

This group, the eldest grade, began a study of the 613 commandments, first according to subject category, then according to individual mitzvot during Judaica class. The categories were divided broadly, and the discussions of the individual mitzvot became very specific, giving plenty of opportunity for discussion of how they apply to us today. This class also made its way through most of the text book "Basic Judaism for Young People" where Naomi Pasachoff compiled articles about important concepts in Judaism: humanism, Zionism, unity, scholarship, compassion, and mercy. It presented many rabbinic stories and lessons that made for lots of questions and discussion.

Class Shabbat Services

Our Gan class (kindergarten class) led our service on May 15th. Their wonderful energy was contagious. Preceding our service, we had our Shabbat meal with lots of zmirot (singing). Kate Foye, and Beth Pols who has been helping the Gan class each week, read a story for the kids during the sermon. The service was merged with our last Tot Shabbat. Thank you Kate and Beth. This wonderful group of kids is our future, and a very bright future it will be. The Gan class members are Isaac Daniel Ensel, Sam Foye, Nathan Levy, Micah Pietraho, and Sid Pols.

Photo Show

A Photo Show will be created of our school year. Please keep an eye out for it by late June at our synagogue website.

School Pictures

School and class pictures were taken. Pictures will become a part of our school photo show. Any parent that would like to have a copy of any class picture or any other candid photo (that they may see as part of the photo show), can request one from me.


The kids donated all year to a Tzedakah fund, and during the month of May, they voted on the recipients of their Tzedakah dollars. This year the winner was: Maine Children's Cancer program. A small summary below gives more information about this organization.

The Maine Children's Cancer Program was created to meet the needs of children with cancer and their families. Based in Scarborough, and affiliated with Maine Medical Center, the program's treatment center is a special place where children with cancer, and their families from across Maine and New Hampshire, find the highest quality medical care, along with support, love and hope. Their goal is to help keep cancer from getting in the way of letting kids be kids. Donations go toward research-based care, education, psychosocial services, outreach, advocacy, state-of-the-art equipment, and new programs not covered by insurance or patient fees.

Israeli Dancing

In honor of Yom Ha'Azmaut (Israel Independence day) Lisa Tessler, a new member of our Beth Israel board of Directors and wonderful dance instructor came to teach some Israeli dances to our students on April 29th. Lisa made it easy for everyone to join in, and introduced some new dances, along with the old favorite, the "Jewish Chicken Dance." Many thanks to Lisa for bringing a lively fun way end our school year.

Flat Schmuel

At the beginning of the school year, each of the students decorated a Flat Schmuel, similar to Flat Stanley and sent him on to adventures across the world. The students asked their family and friends to include Flat Schmuel in some of their Jewish activities, and then to return some pictures for our benefit. Flat Schmuel traveled across the globe, to Israel, Ukraine, Hong Kong, England, all throughout the United States, and even to the South Pole. The kids had a chance to present the posters they made with the photos, and added a pin onto the world map showing with a string how far he went. What a fun project.

Cheese Making

Corey Coutu, a regular attendee of our Shabbat services, came to Maine with Americore, and has stayed and joined our community. He brought all needed for the kids to make mozzarella cheese in honor of Shavuot (a holiday in which we traditionally eat dairy foods). After boiling, sifting, and sorting, the kids ate their own homemade cheese.

Lag B'Omer

Our Lag B'Omer celebration was held on May 27th, our last day of school. Despite rain, Campbell Clegg always makes it fun for the kids. With some potato catching games, and races, the kids laughed and enjoyed the day. A potluck dinner followed by ice cream made for a nice end-of-year party. Special thanks to Campbell.

Our Graduates

Our Heh class led our Shabbat service on May 29th. Each led Hebrew and English parts, and chose a Hebrew prayer to discuss. Each student was also asked to speak for a few minutes about a particularly special moment they had at Hebrew school, or about something that may have inspired them, with regard to their Hebrew school experience. Our graduates include Shira Gersh, Jacob Hagler, Julian Ireland, and Sophie Sreden. Some students have already begun their Bar/Bat Mitzvah lessons, and others will be starting their studies soon.

Good luck to Michael Brodsky who graduated high school and heads to Northwestern University. Michael has been a student helper at our Hebrew school for many years and will be missed.

Special Thanks

The end of the year is always a great time to thank our teachers for all their efforts. Our teachers: Cantor Daniel, Alina Shumsky, Marina Singer, Susan Horowitz, Kate Foye and Beth Pols prepared thoughtful lessons each week, and instilled a love of Judaism into each of our students. Our student teachers, Michael Brodsky and Hannah Leeman were a huge help to our teachers. Each week in their own quiet way, they helped to make things at Hebrew school run more smoothly. Many thanks again to you all.

Special Thanks go to Campbell Clegg, Deb Hagler, and Susan Horowitz who came all year to parent committee meetings to plan extra activities for our kids above and beyond the curriculum.

Once again, Susan Horowitz also brought her Aleph and Bet class outside to plant flowers at the end of the school year, as a mitzvah to help beautify the school. They indeed look great.

Last Day of School

Our last day of school was May 27th. More information will be posted on our website to prepare for next year. To get a jump on enrollment, please print and fill out the enrollment form at Forms can be forwarded to Beth Israel Congregation 906 Washington St., Bath, ME 04530 or to

We wish everyone a healthy, productive and enjoyable summer, and we will eagerly look forward to our students return in the fall. Our first day back will be Wednesday, September 9th. A complete calendar is available at

Have a great summer!

Birthdays and Anniversaries

Listing the birthday's and anniversaries of those in our immediate family creates a wonderful opportunity for our community/shul family to have an excuse to celebrate with each other. We have listed the few that we have. If you notice that someone in your family isn't listed, please send along all information to Barbara Leeman so that they can be included with the next bulletin issue.

July Birthdays July Anniversaries
4 Hannah Leeman   23 Marina & Steve Singer
8 Margaret Brann   26 Lenore & Jay Friedland
8 Linda Silberstein      
11 Becca Lewis      
18 Judy Weisman      
21 Marina Singer      
22 Jay Friedland      


August Birthdays August Anniversaries
10 Emma Miller   17 Ruth and Ed Benedikt
15 Henry Raker   20 Evelyn & Mort Panish
16 Arielle Leeman   30 Virginia Van Slyck & Jim Raker
31 Marilyn Weinberg      


Many thanks to the following people for their donations to Beth Israel Congregation

  • Jay & Lenore Friedland in memory of Edward Friedland
  • Janice Povich in memory of Donald Povich
  • Janice Povich in memory of Harry Goldstein
  • Robert & Barbara Lenox in memory of Mildred Lenox
  • Jerrold Lurie in memory of Celia & Phillip Lurie
  • Daniel Morganstern in memory of Frederick Morganstern
  • Donald & Mara Giulianti in memory of Nicholas Giulianti
  • Donald & Mara Giulianti in memory of Bertha Berman
  • Donny & Monica Blatt in memory of Arthur Blatt
  • Susan & Dan Levey in memory of Milton Applebaum
  • Rea Turet & Sandy Polster in memory of Rosaline Lasher
  • Rea Turet & Sandy Polster in memory of Lillian Turet
  • Robert & Barbara Lenox in honor of the birth of their first grandchildren. Twin boys Zachary David & Jaydon Max born to Mara Lenox Bronstein and Chad Bronstein.