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Beth Israel Congregation


Beth Israel Congregation Newsletter

July/August 2011
Sivan/Tammuz/Av/Elul 5771

Cantor's Message
Gala Summer Auction
Let's Meet the New Board Members
Dine Around
Book Club
Tisha b'Av Services
Hebrew School News
Beth Israel Joins the "Give and Go" Efforts
Join Us On Facebook
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

The Menorah has become one of the most popular symbols of Judaism throughout the years. In a "portion" that we recently read, G-d asked Aaron, the High Priest, the Kohen Gadol, to light the Menorah. According to the rabbis, he did so with great devotion, making the ritual of lighting it a sacred duty, one that he carefully and lovingly performed. Years later, Aaron's descendants, the Hasmoneans, reclaimed the Temple after the victory of the Maccabees. Out of the miracle of the oil sprung another version of the Menorah, technically known as the Hannukiyyah.

To this day, one can observe the Menorah being carried off by Roman soldiers in a carving at the Arch of Titus, in Rome. It depicts a victory parade that celebrated the defeat of the Jews when the Romans destroyed our Temple in the year 70 CE. Nearly two thousand years later, the Menorah has become the seal of the State of Israel. The seal includes the olive branches and symbolizes that the light of the Jewish people will never be extinguished.

Rabbi Isaac Luria taught that the light of the six Menorah branches, three on each side, represents the several academic and secular disciplines of learning. The center branch, the seventh, symbolizes Torah learning, our central core knowledge. He taught that secular knowledge and Torah knowledge should illumine one another, and that they are not rivals. Each has its own questions and concerns for the Jewish people, and together they light the world.

In Numbers Rabba 15:5, the midrash of the Book of Bemidbar, the rabbis ask the following question: "Why does the Torah lay so much emphasis on the Menorah among all the vessels of the Temple?" They answer by quoting G-d as follows: "As I shine a light on Israel, by making them known throughout the world, let them shine a light on Me!"

I believe this is a beautiful message that teaches a powerful lesson. Even though G-d has no physical form, we, the people of Beth Israel Congregation, who continue to learn, teach and practice Jewish values, are going beyond our narrow self-interest by keeping the "fires" burning for our community. Consequently, we function as lights, like the Menorah that reflect G-d's light on the world around us.

The previous article is based on the teachings of the Etz Hayim Torah and Commentary, published by the Rabbinical Assembly and the United Synagogue of the Conservative Movement. It was produced by the Jewish Publication Society in 2001.

Gala Summer Auction

Please join us on
Saturday, July 16th
7:00 pm at the Minnie Brown Center.

There will be a silent auction and a live auction with yummy appetizers and wine.

This an opportunity to have fun, bid on some amazing items and raise money for the synagogue. A percent of all of our proceeds will be donated to the Midcoast Hunger Prevention.

Come and bring your friends. The more people there, the more funds we can raise.

Let's Meet the New Board Members

by Lynn Frank

At the Congregation's annual meeting on June 5, 2011, four new members were unanimously voted to join the Board of Directors. Welcome to Campbell Clegg, Andy Hagler, Lee Leiner and Denise Tepler. We would like to thank the four outgoing members of the Board for their many years of dedicated service to the Congregation: Irwin Brodsky, Stan Lane, Janice Povich and Rea Turet. They will be missed and we wish them well. We also want to thank Robert Gersh. He graciously served as President of the Board for the past year.

The newly elected board officers are:

  • Andy Hagler (President)
  • Maury Libner (Vice President)
  • Robert Gersh (Treasurer)
  • Monica Blatt (Secretary)

Campbell Clegg
Campbell Clegg is a stay at home dad. He has spent the past 17 years doing things that he never dreamed he would be doing. When his daughter, Rachel, was young, he spent time with her at the "Mother's Connection" in West Falmouth with the other moms and their kids and one other father, John. The kids had such fun playing with the "Dads" that Campbell and John created the "Father's Connection" which turned into the "Southern Maine Home Dads." Channel 13 came to watch a bunch of men play with the kids at Campbell's house. A graduate student came up from Boston to study them. Rachel and Campbell ended up on the front page of the Times Record for Father's Day.

He grew up in the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina, but never had a chance to ski. So, when his daughter learned to ski in Maine, he learned with her and they hit the slopes together. He also spent a lot of time at the Bath YMCA, otherwise know as his "vacation in Florida." Sitting in the stands as he watched the swimmers, he would be sweating in an hour. In addition, he got to coach his youngest child, Zelda, in soccer.

If all of this wasn't enough, he has also been involved with teaching in the Hebrew School (his Sunday school teacher would be most surprised by this, though he suspects that Rev. Graham would not).

As the kids got older his dad started asking what he was going to do with his life. He answered that he thought he had one, but when the opportunity to purchase Maine Roasters Coffee came up six and a half years ago, he jumped in to buy it with some friends. He puts his time in during the day when the kids are at school and then at 2:15 start driving somebody somewhere. Two mornings a week you will find him opening up at 6:00 am.

In summary, he is a stay at home dad who's not afraid to get down on the floor to play with kids, loves to ski, spends a lot of time in the pool area, helps run the Hebrew school and loves coffee.

Andy Hagler
Andy Hagler lives with his wife, Deborah, and sons, Jacob (14) and Nicholas (11) in Harpswell. The family has been a part of the Beth Israel Congregation since 1997, upon moving to Maine from New York City. Andy, an attorney, is the Director of Telephone and Water Regulation at the Maine Public Utilities Commission. The boys attend the Wayneflete School in Portland, and Deborah practices pediatrics at the Bowdoin Medical Group.

Andy has previously served on the Board of Beth Israel and also as President and as the Chair of the Cemetery Committee.

Lee Leiner
Lee Leiner is a registered Professional Engineer and has been the Assistant Public Works Director in Bath for 12 years. He received his bachelor's degree in civil engineering from the University of Michigan and his Master's degree in Public Administration at Northeastern University. Prior to his work in Bath, Lee worked as a consulting engineer in Salt Lake City Utah, and began his career with the California Department of Transportation in San Francisco. It was there he met his wife (and native Mainer), Lisa Trembley. They bounced around the West and spent one winter skiing before coming home to New England to settle down. They now reside in Woolwich with their ten-year old daughter Nadia.

A native of Long Island, New York, Lee attended Hebrew school and received his Bar Mitzvah at the Seaford Jewish Center, a Conservative congregation.

Denise Tepler
Denise is currently a parent in transition with her youngest daughter (of three) graduating from high school and moving on to college this year. She is very involved in local and statewide politics and has twice run for the Maine House of Representatives. She serves on the Topsham Finance Committee and has previously served as an elected representative to the SAD #75 School Board. She also serves on the Boards of Spectrum Generations and EmergeMaine.

Denise has a small business teaching cooking classes to individuals and through Merrymeeting Adult Education. She writes a cooking column for The Cryer and a cooking blog for The New Maine Times ( Her academic background is in anthropology and in public policy.

She and her husband of 30 years, Sheldon, are long-time members of Beth Israel. Denise previously served on the board before Rabbi Ruth was hired. She grew up outside of Philadelphia and attended Hebrew School and Hebrew High School at Har Zion Synagogue.

Dine Around

by Barbara Lenox

The Beth Israel Dine Around is a delightful group of women from our synagogue who enjoy meeting and sampling the cuisine of different local restaurants once a month. We have tried everything from Azure Cafe in Freeport to The Cabin in Bath. Each month we suggest a new restaurant to try. You do not need to come to every dinner; but if you are available, please join us for an evening of fun and good company. Our July pick will be at Little Tokyo, Japanese cuisine at 72 Maine Street, Brunswick, on July 14th at 6:30 pm. Please RSVP to Barbara Lenox by July 11th.

Book Club

by Barbara Lenox

Our Beth Israel Book Club is off to a fantastic start this year. We had superb suggestions offered and after presenting the proposed books, we voted. The books chosen provide a little something for every type of reader. Please come and join us on the following dates:

June 23 The Glass Room by Sawyer Mawer
July 21 The Lost Museum: the Nazi Conspiracy to Steal the World's Greatest Works of Art by Hector Feliciano
August 25 These Mountains: Selected Poems of Rivka Miriam by Rivka Miriam
September 22 The Secret Books of Grazia dei Rossi by Jacqueline Park
October 20 The Cosmopolitans by Nadia Kalman

Tisha b'Av Services

by Cantor Daniel Leeman

Please mark your calendars to attend the evening service commemorating the Fast of the Ninth of Av. The fast commemorates the destruction of both the First Temple and Second Temple in Jerusalem, which occurred about 656 years apart, but on the same Hebrew calendar date.

The service will take place on Monday evening, August 8, 2011, at 7:00 pm. We will have an evening, Maariv Service, followed by the traditional reading of the Book of Lamentations.

Hebrew School News

by Barbara Leeman

Our Hebrew school year has once again come to an end. As we wrap things up, we reflect, and try to understand what worked well, and how our school can improve. Please feel free to send your comments to

Our Graduates
Our last day of Hebrew school was on June 8th. Our graduates led us in a special Shavuot service, where many of the prayers they learned were pulled together into a special service focusing on peace. These students will have an opportunity to continue their Hebrew studies next year with a special Holocaust unit, a book club, and of course their Bar/Bat Mitzvah studies. Mazel Tov to the following students: Isaac Boll, Sullivan Boyd, Zelda Clegg, Arielle Leeman, Emma Miller, Sadie Pressman, Henry Raker, Noa Sreden and Owen Zwaan.

The kids donated all year to a Tzedakah fund, and during the month of May, they voted on the recipient of their Tzedakah dollars. This year the winner was the Make a Wish Foundation of Maine.

Israeli Dancing

In honor of Yom Ha'Azmaut (Israel Independence Day), Lisa Tessler, a member of our congregation, came on May 11th to teach some Israeli dances to our students. Lisa introduced some new dances, along with the old favorite, the "Jewish Chicken Dance." Many thanks, Lisa, for a lively fun way to bring our school year to an end.

Lag B'Omer
Our Lag B'Omer celebration was held on May 25th on the library lawn. Special thanks to Campbell Clegg who always makes the games fun for the kids.

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, and Susan Horowitz prepared thoughtful lessons each week, and instilled a love of Judaism into each of our students. Many thanks again to you all.

Wish List
Please save as many egg crates as possible, and bring to the Minnie Brown center when school begins (or before).

Please look through your cabinets for dry foods that you bought but won't likely use, and donate them. Our students will continue next year to collect food/dry items to bring to the food bank.

There is a box placed in the hallway of the Minnie Brown Center for the collection of the items.

Hebrew School 2011-2012
We eagerly look forward to our students return in the fall. Our first day back will be Wednesday, September 7th. A complete calendar will be available this summer at

Have a great summer!

Beth Israel Joins the "Give and Go" Efforts

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, cleaned, tested, priced and sold by volunteers (us). In the past the "Give and Go" has raised over $48,000 dollars for area non-profits. Each year 25 organizations are selected, and the combined effort amounts to thousands of hours. The profits are distributed to each organization based on the number of hours they contribute. Beth Israel was able to volunteer over 100 hours. I am so pleased to report that we had 28 different people who were able to volunteer some time to help Beth Israel. 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 is an easy fundraiser and lots of fun.

Thank you to the following people who all worked this year at the "Give and Go": Lisa Andrews, Allegra, Chris, Donnie, Morgan, and Quin Boyd, Peggy Brown, Campbell Clegg, Steve Cohen, Fiona and Susan Duncan, Susan Horowitz, Barbara, Hannah and Sam Leeman, Lee Leiner, Barbara Lenox, Harriet Paris, Virginia Raker, Jeanie Schaffer, Barbara and Barrett Silver, Kermit Smyth, Nonny Soifer, Jill Standish, Lisa Trembley, Rea Turet, and Marilyn Weinberg.

Join Us On Facebook & Spread the Word About the Great Summer Auction

by by Lisa Tessler

We are excited to have created a Facebook page for our congregation as a means of sharing news, photos, and information about events such as the upcoming Great Summer Auction on Saturday, July 16th. If you are on Facebook, please go to our page by searching for Beth Israel Congregation - Bath Maine and click "Like." If you have received the summer auction event invitation on Facebook, please click on it and let us know if you can attend. Help us get the word out among your family and friends. Click "Share," add a personal message if you wish, and, using the drop down arrow, post it on your wall or send it privately to individual members. We look forward to your feedback.

Birthdays and Anniversaries

July Birthdays July Anniversaries
4 Hannah Leeman   23 Marina & Steve Singer
8 Margaret Brann   26 Lenore & Jay Friedland
8 Linda Silberstein   27 Jennifer DeChant & Lou Ensel
11 Becca Lewis      
18 Judy Weisman      
21 Marina Singer      
22 Jay Friedland      


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

Welcome to New Members

Marc "Chico" and Crissy Swartz


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

Members of Beth Israel Congregation

  • Robert and Barbara Lenox in memory of his mother, Mildred Lenox
  • Sharon Drake in memory of Edward Kravitz
  • James Raker in memory of David Raker
  • Janice Povich in memory of her husband, Donald Povich
  • Marina singer in memory of her father, Victor Shapiro, and her brother, Samuel Shapiro
  • Jay and Lenore Friedland in memory of his father, Edward Friedland

Friends of Beth Israel Congregation

  • Moriah Moser and Daniel Morgenstern in memory of Frederick Morgenstern
  • Raymond and Sheila Lucente
  • Mayer, Sheri and Bailey Fistal