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Beth Israel Congregation

   
 
 
 

Beth Israel Congregation Newsletter

November/December 2009
Heshvan/Kislev/Tevet 5770


President's Message
Progressive Sukkot Celebration
News from the Hebrew School
Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program
Book Club
Chanukah Supplies
Birthdays and Anniversaries
Donations

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 info@bethisrael-maine.org.


President's Message

by Marilyn Weinberg

(Originally delivered to the congregation on Yom Kippur.)

We had over a dozen former members of Beth Israel Congregation visit with us and share their memories during our recent history program. It was wonderful and the turnout from the greater Bath community was nothing short of amazing. But I want to clarify one thing. Nathan Cogan, who was instrumental in getting all of visitors together, made a statement that most of the families left and Beth Israel was in decline. I would like to take exception to that statement.

My husband Fred and I came to our first Rosh Hashanah service at Beth Israel Congregation in 1976. The seats were filled with mostly older people (of course now that I think about it most of them were just about the age I am now). I was pregnant with our first child so needless to say we literally stood out. At the close of that first service we were already invited to Izzie Singer's home for some "schnapps" and sweets with the rest of the extended Singer and Greenblatt families. Within a short time I was welcomed into the Beth Israel Sisterhood. They planned programs and raised money for the synagogue. You need to know that every woman was invited to be part of this group. Fred was called whenever there was a need for a minyon for somebody to say Kaddish. Before long we were both working in the kitchen and you know the rest of the story.

What I want to emphasize about this tale are two thoughts. First of all there was a core of dedicated Jewish people who stayed in Bath and focused on keeping this synagogue alive for themselves and for their children. And secondly, the welcome we received made a great impression on us. We were made to feel that this was our synagogue and we felt that we were adopted into this wonderful extended family. It is important to me to make all of our current members and friends feel that same welcome.

The founders of this congregation worked hard and gave us, often with pennies and dimes at a time, a gift. They built this beautiful building and helped create this sense of community that still thrives today. They charged for aliyahs and even for the privilege of opening the ark. People gave with pride and with pleasure. I know that times are different and synagogues often are not the central part of people's lives today as they often were when the immigrant families arrived in Bath. But it is our responsibility to keep this synagogue and this community flourishing for us and for our children.

We have no source of income other than your dues and donations. Last year we spent close to $8,000 just on fuel to heat the buildings. After an energy audit we learned that our lovely old windows in this building held in very little heat. Replacing them will help to keep the heat in the building and our money in the bank.

You have an opportunity not only to help the synagogue, but to also remember a loved one with a plaque on the window you donate. The cost is only $700 per window. Merely complete the attached form and send it back with a check. What a mitzvah you will be doing.

Thanks to all of you who contribute in so many ways to the life of Beth Israel.


Progressive Sukkot Celebration

by Marilyn Weinberg

The sun appeared just as we began our annual progressive Sukkot celebration on Sunday, October 4th. More than thirty members and friends of the Beth Israel Congregation broke bread, sipped soup, blessed the booths and enjoyed each other's company.

We began the festivities at the Kaplin-Hine sukkah in Freeport, which was decorated with both Red Sox and Yankees caps. Cantor Daniel explained the significance of Sukkot and we all had an opportunity to shake the lulav and etrog and to say the blessing. After the Kaplan-Hine home, we were able to sample the hospitality of the Panish family where we spent time in their lovely "green" home. After filling up on soup and delicious bread we headed to the Fields family sukkah decorated in cloth from Jerusalem. The scenery was lovely, the company enjoyable and the food was yummy.

Thank you to all the Kaplan-Hine, Panish and Fields families for welcoming us and taking the time to build beautiful and unique sukkahs. And thank you to all members of our Beth Israel family who brought delicious food to share as well as Cantor Daniel for leading prayers, songs, and showing us all how to shake the lulav and etrog. We give special thanks to Ann Isacoff for her lovely poem she wrote and presented to us to commemorate the occasion.


News from the Hebrew School

by Barbara Leeman

Hebrew school is off to a busy start. It began on Wednesday. September 9th. It is always nice to have the kids back, making the Minnie Brown Center come alive. The kids were completely thrilled with all the cleaning that was done over the summer to create a more "beautiful" space. The newly painted and organized space is very upbeat and welcoming.

Our Hebrew school schedule includes time for Judaica which includes Bible, Jewish Holidays, and Jewish History; and time for Hebrew language instruction including reading, writing and speaking. Before going to classes, our entire school assembles for a short prayer service. We are using a "child-friendly" prayer book, which this year, includes much of the torah service. This is to add to the Shacharit service (morning service), which the kids have been studying for the last two years. We assemble again at the end of the school day and gather upstairs for Jewish Song including Israeli Folk, prayer and holiday melodies.

High Holiday Youth Services

Besides the classroom instruction, Denise Tepler led our Youth service on Rosh Hashana and Jim Raker led the Youth 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.

Sukkot

In honor of Sukkot, the children have had an opportunity to build and decorate a beautiful sukkah. Our school sukkah was put together on Wednesday, October 30th. We give many thanks to Campbell Clegg whose expertise can put the frame together in less than ten minutes. The children created decorations with care. Cantor Daniel gave the students an interesting description of what the lulav and etrog represent. We sang Sukkot songs and enjoyed a delicious snack in the sukkah.

Tot Shabbat Services

Our Tot Shabbat services continue this year, welcoming our youngest members, to join in for our very short (1/2 hour) service. Four 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. However anyone is always welcome to join in.

The first Tot Shabbat was October 9th. Some lively singing and a story about Sukkot kept the kids completely consumed. We took a "field trip" down to the Minnie Brown center to have our oneg in the sukkah. Everyone enjoyed being together on a clear night.

Our second Tot Shabbat takes place on December 4th to help us bring in Chanukah. Please let anyone who has small kids know of this special service.

Simchat Torah

Our Simchat Torah celebration was held on October 11th. Each of the groups (men, women and children) was each called up to receive the honor of an Aliyah. 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 vehicles 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 the marriage between Israel and the Law.

Everyone danced around the shul with the Torahs, waving flags, 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 pizza party followed, with good spirit.

Welcome to Our Newest Families

We are thrilled to see the Gallimore and Boll families return to our school. Anna Boll and Lauri Gallimore have both served as teachers at our Hebrew school and we are lucky to have them back. We also officially welcome the Feinberg family, who are now settled in Maine and able to attend regularly. We of course welcome back our returning families as well. We are thrilled to be back, learning and making new friends.

Welcome Back Teachers

We welcome back our wonderful teachers who return from last year. Cantor Daniel, Alina Shumsky, Marina Singer, Susan Horowitz and Beth Pols cover kindergarten through grade six. Our school is lucky to have such qualified and caring teachers. We are fortunate to have student helpers at our school as well.

School Library

We give special thanks to those families that have already donated stories to our new Hebrew school library. We will have fun reading and translating the Hebrew stories for the kids. We have cataloged all of the children's books, and our students will be checking them out. We give special thanks to Sheila Lucente for making book bags, so the children can carry the books back and forth from home.

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. 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 for our first one on December 11th. This will be our oldest group, the Heh class.

On December 13th our Hebrew school, will celebrate Chanukah at our 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 9th. Please consider coming to join us. We look forward to a year of learning and fun.


Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program

by Jill Standish

There is a group of dedicated volunteers from our synagogue and the greater Jewish community who have been helping the Midcoast Hunger Prevention Center in Brunswick. What we do is gather food donated by the Hannaford Supermarket in Brunswick and schlep it across the street to the Midcoast Hunger Prevention Center where we label it and put it away.

We have one person who would like to help but we need another team member. Or, if you are a couple or a strong individual you could help as well. You only have to work one day every two months, and there are so many people who benefit from our work. If you're interested please email Jill Standish.


Book Club

by Barbara Lenox

The next meeting of the Beth Israel Jewish Book Club will be Thursday, November 19th at the home of Marilyn Weinberg. This month's selection will be A Woman in Jerusalem by A. B. Yehoshua. The December 17th selection is by a local author, Ernie Weiss and is titled Out of Vienna. Please come and join us for our warm and lively discussions of the books. Good book suggestions are always welcomed. Any questions, please e-mail Barbara Lenox.


Chanukah Supplies

by Marina Singer

Marina Singer will be selling Chanukah supplies on Wednesday afternoons the last two weeks of November and first two weeks of December at the Minnie Brown Center. Anyone wanting Chanukah gelt or dreydles should email or call her.


Birthdays and Anniversaries

November Birthdays November Anniversaries
1 Sophie Sreden   1 Cristina & Stacey Giulianti
2 Gordon Blatt   28 Ann & Ross Lewis
10 Rachel Clegg      
12 Dennis Westman      
16 Larry Loeb      
18 Eli Schoenberg      
21 Joan Fields      

 

December Birthdays December Anniversaries
2 Jennifer Kaplan   15 Joan & Jeremy Fields
22 Sam Leeman      
27 Ed Benedikt      
31 Cristina Giulianti      

Donations

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

Members of Beth Israel Congregation

  • Rea Turet and Sandy Polster in memory of his mother, Evelyn M. Polster
  • Judy and Dan Gatchell in memory of her father, Seymour Chamoff
  • Andy and Chris Schoenberg in memory of his mother, Elayne Schoenberg
  • Judith Weisman in memory of her stepfather, Milton Gross
  • Marcia & Leonard Klompus in memory of her mother, Dorice Povich Mensh
  • Lenore and Jay Friedland in memory of her parents, Esther Itzkowitz and Israel Itzkowitz
  • Marilyn and Fred Weinberg
  • Herb and Harriet Paris
  • Jay and Lenore Friedland
  • Steve and Marina Singer
  • Congratulations, Shira, on becoming a Bat Mitzvah.
    You have accomplished so much in your 13 years.
    We love you so much are very proud of you!
    Your loving parents, Susan Horowitz and Robert Gersh

Friends of Beth Israel Congregation

  • Gil and Marilyn Prawer
  • Ansel and Zira Shiffer
  • Norman Turkish
  • Barrett and Barbara Silver
  • Jerrold Lurie
  • Richard Cohen and Elizabeth Gouverneur
  • Eric and Sarah Stendig Wood
  • Miriam Kranton and Bruce Kapner
  • Henry Goldberg and Kim Hetherington
  • Raymond and Sheila Lucente
  • Ann Isacoff
  • Richard Brimberg and Debra Ramsey
  • The Dorothy K. Davis Foundation Inc.