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Beth Israel Congregation


Beth Israel Congregation Newsletter

May/June 2011
Nissan/Iyyar/Sivan 5771

Cantor's Message
New Course Offering
Film Screening and Discussion
Book Club
Dine Around
Annual Meeting
President's Message
News from the Hebrew School
Birthdays and Anniversaries
Welcome to 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

Cantor's Message

by Cantor Daniel Leeman

After the Passover Seder, we begin counting down the days leading to Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks. Our tradition teaches us that on Shavuot, the Torah was given to the people at the foot of Mt. Sinai, in the wilderness. A rabbinic interpretation of the book of Exodus finds this curious. Why was the Torah given in the wilderness? What could possibly be the significance of this tradition? Haven't the Jewish people been firmly connected to the land of Israel? Wouldn't this have been a more suitable place to receive the gift of the Torah? Why was it given in the "great and terrible wilderness" of the Sinai desert? (Deuteronomy 1:19)

The Rabbis answer that the Torah was given in the wilderness, because the wilderness is public, open, and free. Had it been given in the Land of Israel, the Children of Israel could have said to the other nations of the world: "You have no share in it!" But, because it was given in the wilderness, which is open, public and free for all to enter, we learn that "all who wish to receive the torah are welcome to do so." (from the Mekilta)

So, the message of this text and the message of the freedom of Passover is the same one offered by our first century sage Hillel, "Now go learn..."

New Course Offering

by Cantor Daniel Leeman

Please join me in a careful study of a book, entitled Embracing Judaism, written by Rabbi Simcha Kling, of blessed memory, my Aunt Edith's husband. This book was lovingly written and edited by my close relatives, and is dedicated to helping people interested in becoming Jewish, learn about how to embrace Judaism. Yet, it is so carefully and clearly written, that it is a treasure to anyone seeking to deepen their understanding of the fundamentals of Judaism.

The classes will be offered on Wednesday evenings, beginning May 4th. We will discuss two chapters per lesson for all fourteen chapters, a total of seven weeks of study. Classes will be from 6:00-7:00 pm at the Minnie Brown Center. Except for the purchase of the book, there is no charge for the course. Please contact me prior to class at 443-4606, so that I can make copies of the book available to you.

Film Screening and Discussion

by Lisa Tessler

Film screening and discussion with cinematographer Yoav Kosh:

My Father My Lord directed by David Volach (73 min.)
Tuesday, May 3, 2011, 7:00 pm
Frontier Cafe,
14 Maine Street, Fort Andross, Brunswick

For more information about Frontier Cafe:

Sponsor: Open to the general public, this event is hosted by Beth Israel Congregation in Bath.

The film depicts a man, devoted to a life of study and worship, who hopes to impart his faith to his young son. It is a journey to the innermost world of the believer as he comes face to face with the still silence of God. Since its release in 2007, My Father My Lord has been shown at film festivals around the world.

For the New York Times review of this film:

After the showing, a discussion will be led by cinematographer Yoav Kosh, the Schusterman Visiting Artist Program artist-in-residence at Colby College, who has been an active filmmaker and teacher in Israel for the past 25 years. His cinematography credits include about twenty-five feature-length movies and dozens of television shows, drama series, and documentaries. Yoav has won numerous honors for his work, including two awards for "Best Cinematography" from the Israeli Film Academy, Israel's equivalent to the Oscars.

Tickets are $8 for students and senior citizens; $10 for adults. This film is not suggested for young children under the age of 12. Food and beverage will be available for purchase in the cafe beforehand. Plan to arrive by 6:15 pm to allow ample time to be served.

Space is limited; to book your ticket in advance, visit or call (207) 725-5222.

Book Club

by Barbara Lenox

Welcome back! The Beth Israel Book Club will resume its meetings starting Thursday, May 19th at 6:30 pm, at the Minnie Brown Center. We will start our meeting with our "Make a Salad" program. I will supply the lettuce and the bowl, and everyone can bring an ingredient to add to the salad. Suggested items include: eggs, nuts, cheese, dried cranberries, tomatoes, or any other milchik item you can think of adding. Please have a list of suggested books and be prepared to give a three minute synopsis. At the end of the evening, we will vote on a list of books we would all like to read for this year. We are looking for Jewish themes, Jewish authors, or subjects relevant for us to discuss. Please call Barbara Lenox to let me know what you will bring to add to the salad or if you have any questions.

Dine Around

by Barbara Lenox

The April meeting of the Dine Around was a huge success. We all enjoyed the Azure Cafe in Freeport. Trying for something more casual, our next outing is planned for May 26th at 6:30 pm at the Cabin, 552 Washington Street, Bath. The Cabin is known for having the best pizza in Mid- Coast Maine. Come join us for a relaxing evening with friends. As always, please call Barbara Lenox at, so I know how many seats to save.

Annual Meeting

Please join us on
Sunday, June 5th
at the Minnie Brown Center.

9:30 am - Brunch
10:00 am - Meeting

Don't miss this opportunity to express your point of view about the future of our synagogue.

Join the discussion of our proposed budget and our financial challenges.

So come and enjoy the food and the company.

President's Message

by Robert Gersh

Greetings! I'm happy to report that spring is finally here! After a long, cold, and snowy winter, I hope that you have been getting outside and enjoying the warmer weather.

The Congregation's Annual Meeting is scheduled for Sunday, June 5th at the Minnie Brown Center, with an informal brunch at 9:30 am and the meeting following at 10:00 am.

I strongly encourage all members of the congregation to mark your calendars and plan to attend this important meeting. This is your opportunity to share in the future of the Congregation and to discuss the direction and the type of Congregation you envision for Beth Israel. We want your input!

At the Annual Meeting you will hear from the Cantor, the Board, and various committee leaders regarding the current state of the Congregation. You will hear about the Board's proposed budget for the upcoming season. You will also nominate and vote for the replacements of four Board members. As I've stated in my previous newsletter columns, our Congregation is what you make of it. That means that you have to participate in the process in order to make a difference!

This will be my last newsletter message as your President. No, I'm not moving away. I'm just changing my duties. After the Annual Meeting in June, I am stepping down as President of the Board. I have agreed to take over the Treasurer position from Rea Turet. Rea is retiring, after nine devoted years as Treasurer of the Board, to spend more time with her family.

On behalf of the Board and the Congregation, I would like to thank Rea Turet, Dr. Irwin Brodsky, Stan Lane, and Janice Povich for their many years of service on the Board. They are all ending their terms this June. Please extend a hearty, "Thank You," to each of our retiring Board Members. See you at the meeting!

News from the Hebrew School

by Barbara Leeman

Is it already May? Where has the year gone? Our students are growing up right before our eyes. As with any program, we realize there is always room to improve. Please send along any comments or suggestions you may have to

Purim Carnival

This year we read the Megillah in story form. It was certainly child friendly, but also interesting enough to hold any adult's attention. I always find it amazing that each year as I reacquaint myself with the story of Esther, I pick up at least one new fact. As we sang, "Oh Haman was a wicked wicked man..." the groggers spun and the kids looked happy as could be to be making a big commotion in shul.

The kids paraded in costume around in the sanctuary and then marched down Washington Street to the Minnie Brown Center, where the carnival awaited. There were games, face painting, and refreshments there. The kids also had a shaloch manot exchange. Many thanks go to Susan Horowitz, who planned and organized the carnival, and to all of her many helpers.

Class Shabbat Services

In March, our Heh class led our congregation in Shabbat services. Each of the students learned new Hebrew prayers and helped make our Shabbat service special. Members of the class are Avi Gersh, Nicholas Hagler, Isabella Pols and Leah Totman. As always, we enjoyed a wonderful Shabbat meal prior to the service, with Zmirot (Shabbat melodies). Mazel tov to everyone!

Family Shabbatot

On March 4th we enjoyed meeting many young families in our community. Dinner and a child friendly service was a perfect way to schmooze. The last scheduled Family Shabbat for this calendar year will be held on April 29th.

Passover Seder

On April 13th, our school got into the Passover spirit with a model Seder. Cantor Daniel led the Seder and our students chimed in with many prayers and songs. A thank you goes to our school families who brought items in to complete our Seder plates and meal. Thank you all for making our school Seder a great start to the holidays.

Yom Hashoah

April 27th has been set aside as a day to remember the Shoah. Our students will be given age appropriate information to allow them time to understand, reflect and to process the events of the Holocaust.

School Pictures

School pictures will be taken in May. Copies can be sent 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 11th. The kids have learned several basic Israeli dances over the last few years. Lisa Tessler will be elaborating on these, 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 25th, by having our outdoor games following Hebrew School on the Patten Free library lawn across the street. Campbell Clegg, will lead the kids again in another fun filled afternoon. We will follow with a potluck picnic dinner together. Festivities begin at 5:30 pm (as we are finishing up on our Hebrew school classes), and will last approximately one hour. An ice cream party will end the day, as we celebrate the end of our school year. If by chance we have rain, we will have indoor games for the kids to enjoy.


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.

Graduating Students

We have a number of graduating students who have attended our Hebrew school. Some have attended school for many years, and others are newcomers. As they finish their formal classroom study, they move into an individual study program, working toward their Bar/Bat Mitzvah. This group includes Isaac Boll, Sullivan Boyd, Zelda Clegg, Arielle Leeman, Emma Miller, Sadie Pressman, Henry Raker, Noa Sreden and Owen Zwaan. We look forward to having them lead our Shavuot Service on June 8th.

Last Day of School

Our last day of Hebrew school for 2010-11 is scheduled for June 8th. This is Shavuot, and our oldest class will honor us by leading the service.

Birthdays and Anniversaries

May Birthdays May Anniversaries
6 Daniel Giulianti   25 Barbara & Robert Lenox
9 Steve Singer   27 Michelle & Matt Miller
12 Rachel Schoenberg   27 Susan Horowitz & Robert Gersh
15 Denise Tepler   28 Rea Turet & Sandy Polster
18 Heather Gilman-Davis   29 Mara & Donny Giulianti
19 Ruth Benedikt   31 Beth & Benet Pols
20 Arthur Davis      
23 Jennifer DeChant      
29 Ann Lewis      


June Birthdays June Anniversaries
1 Lenore Friedland   7 Marilyn & Fred Weinberg
3 Mara Giulianti   7 Peggy Brown & John Martell
16 Isabella Pols   14 Barbara & Daniel Leeman
19 Michele Miller   18 Monica & Gordon Blatt
28 Rea Turet   22 Christina & Andrew Schoenberg

Welcome to New Members

We welcome Dr. Johanna Rosenfield as a new member.


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

Members of Beth Israel Congregation

  • Linda Silberstein and Larry Loeb in memory of her father, Dr. Joseph Silberstein
  • Rea Turet and Sandy Polster in memory of her father, Maurice Turet
  • Margaret Brann, in memory of her mother, Helen Ruth Charney
  • Matthew and Karen Filler in memory of his father, Morris Filler
  • Matthew and Karen Filler in memory of his mother, Gladys Filler
  • Matthew and Karen Filler in memory of her father, Gerald Feldman
  • Stephen and Barbara Baseman in memory of his father, Isadore Baseman
  • Peggy Brown and John Martell in memory of Harold Hershenhart
  • Ed and Ruth Benedikt in honor of their new granddaughter, Jessie
  • Andy and Deb Hagler
  • Hal and Mary Sreden
  • Herb and Harriet Paris

Friends of Beth Israel Congregation

  • Heidi Zwaan
  • Raymond and Sheila Lucente
  • Deb Smyth
  • Ann Isacoff