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Beth Israel Congregation


Beth Israel Congregation Newsletter

September/October 2011
Elul/Tishri 5771 ~ Heshvan 5772

President's Message
Cantor's Message
Flowers for the High Holidays
Selihot Service
High Holiday Youth Services
Rosh Hashanah Community Luncheon
Yom Kippur Break-Fast
Sukkot Celebration
Simchat Torah Celebration
News from the Hebrew School
A Sweet Fundraiser!
Dine Around
Book Club
Building Committee Activities
Give and Go
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

President's Message

by Andy Hagler

I am happy to be able to announce that at its July meeting, our Congregation, through its Board, did a great Mitzvah. As most of us are aware, earlier this summer the Unitarian Universalist Church in Brunswick suffered a devastating fire rendering the church building that the congregation has occupied since 1886 unusable for worship. To assist the Church while it rebuilds, we have offered the use of our Minnie Brown Center facility as a temporary home for Sunday worship.

I don't know whether the rabbis teach us that the measure of a Mitzvah is how it is received, or how it makes the Mitzvah giver feel, but I can tell you that those of us who have been working with the Unitarian Universalists on the particulars of the arrangement have been overwhelmed by feelings of gratitude that we have the ability to do what seems like the eminently right thing to do.

So, beginning in September, the building dedicated to the memory of a generous member of the Beth Israel Congregation of Bath, formerly a church and now repurposed as a center for Jewish education and celebration, will also become a temporary place of worship for friends in need.

Cantor's Message

by Cantor Daniel Leeman

The Art of Compromise

In the passage from Numbers 27: 1-11 and Numbers 36: 1-13, we learn about Zelophehad's bold and visionary daughters who won the inheritance privilege for women establishing women's rights that exist even until today. As a result of their assertive leadership, women everywhere, who were born into families with no sons, would no longer be under the financial control of their distant male relatives. The women could execute their parent's last will and testament and inherit their wealth.

After G-d decided to honor the claim, Joseph's tribal leaders objected. How could the tribes of Israel permit their portion of lands to be transferred to another tribe through marriage? They rightfully claimed that their specific lands were part of their original tribal homestead in Israel, and could be unfairly diminished over time by this permission to inherit.

Amazingly G-d decided to honor their claim as well. Because G-d saw merit in each of their claims, a compromise was struck. All daughters who wish to inherit their father's wealth must marry within their ancestral tribe.

The resulting marriage restriction, although imperfect, is not as significant as the precedent of compromise that it establishes. In any dispute where there is "right" on both sides, and each party has some merit to their claim; the art of compromise is the best outcome for everyone. This is true for individuals, families, and nations.

As we approach the High Holy Day period, a time of introspection and reconciliation, let us all take this message to heart and make our best efforts to seek the merit in the viewpoints of others and find common ground. L'Shanah Tovah Tikatevu, may you be inscribed (in the Book of Life) for a good year.

Flowers for the High Holidays

by Marilyn Weinberg

If you are interested in contributing toward the synagogue flowers for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, please contact Marina Singer ( Please include the names of the people who you would like to honor or remember.

Your donations for the flowers should be sent to Robert Gersh at 906 Washington St., Bath ME 04530.

Selihot Service

by Marilyn Weinberg

Saturday, September 24
9:00 pm

This year's Selihot Service will take place Saturday evening, September 24th, 2011, at 9:00 pm. It is a one-hour healing service of song and prayer. It will begin with a brief lesson about some of the laws regarding words of kindness. Please make every effort to attend.

High Holiday Youth Services

by Barbara Leeman

Thursday, September 29
Saturday, October 8
11:00 am
Minnie Brown Center

In addition to our regular youth services, we will be adding a special program for our very young children at the same time.

Both youth services, on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, September 29th and on Yom Kippur, October 8th will take place at 11:00 am until noon at the Minnie Brown Center.

The regular youth service will be geared for children between the ages of 7 to 11. While this is going on upstairs, a special program for children 36 will take place downstairs. There will be story telling, singing and a special taste of apples and honey. An announcement will be made at the adult service just before 11:00 am, to remind you to walk your child to the Minnie Brown Center. You can either stay with your child, or rejoin the adult service. If you do not stay at the youth service, your child will be brought back to the Temple at the conclusion of the youth service. We look forward to a sweet and a good new year, L'Shana Tovah Umetukah.

For those parents interested in childcare during the High Holiday services, please contact Barbara Leeman.

Rosh Hashanah Community Luncheon

by Marilyn Weinberg

Thursday, September 29
1:00 pm
Minnie Brown Center

Rosh Hashanah is the time when we all come together as a community. Our High Holiday potluck community luncheons have been a great success that we hope will continue for many years.

We will begin our Rosh Hashanah luncheon at the Minnie Brown Center immediately following morning services on Thursday, September 29th, 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.

Yom Kippur Break-Fast

by Marilyn Weinberg

Saturday, October 8

This year our annual potluck break-fast will begin 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 7th or 8th of October. The break-fast will be held at the synagogue.

Sukkot Celebration

by Marilyn Weinberg

Sunday, October 16
12:00-2:00 pm
Around Town

On Sunday, October 16th, from 12:00-2:00 pm, we will celebrate Sukkot with our annual Community Potluck Progressive Sukkot celebration. We will share food and bless three different sukkahs. We will be sending out a separate flyer soon with all the details. We have a great day planned, so mark your calendars now.

Simchat Torah Celebration

by Marilyn Weinberg

Friday, October 21
6:00 pm potluck
7:00 pm service Synagogue

We will be celebrating Simchat Torah on Shabbat this year. On Friday, October 21 we will have a potluck Shabbat dinner starting at 6:00 pm followed by our Simchat Torah service at 7:00.

This holiday is a celebration of the Torah and you will have a chance to march with the Torah as we make our way around the sanctuary seven times. There will be singing and maybe a little dancing as we proceed. It is not only a great time for adults, but also a great time for children to come, as they will receive an honorary aliyah as the Torah is read.

News from the Hebrew School

by Barbara Leeman

The teachers from Beth Israel Hebrew School have met a few times over the summer. It was fun to see each other, since we enjoy each other's company; but mostly we spent time planning and scheming new ideas for the upcoming year. We are looking forward to seeing new and veteran students soon.

Hebrew School Enrollment

The teachers from Beth Israel Hebrew School have met a few times over the summer. It was fun to see each other, since we enjoy each other's company; but mostly we spent time planning and scheming new ideas for the upcoming year. We are looking forward to seeing new and veteran students soon.

Hebrew School Enrollment

The first day of Hebrew School will be Wednesday, September 14th at 3:45 pm. For our calendar, go to For anyone new or interested in more information about Hebrew School, please send your name, phone number, and email address to or call Barbara Leeman at 443-4606.

Kindergarten/Preschool Classes

Our Kindergarten/Preschool class (Gan) will begin Sunday, September 25th at 9:00-10:15 am (at the synagogue) and will run monthly on Sunday's. Marina Singer will be teaching this program and is looking forward to getting started. 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 throughout the year at a cost of $100. The schedule can be found on the Hebrew school (PDF) calendar (the purple boxes) at

If you are interested in enrolling your child, please call Marina Singer or Barbara Leeman at 443-4606, so that we can get an accurate count of class size.

Join the Sukkot Fun

Our Hebrew School families will be building our community/school Sukkah behind the Minnie Brown Center on Wednesday, October 12th, at 6:00 pm. We will 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 protects us.

Family Shabbats Continue

Family Shabbats return to Beth Israel. On Friday, November 18, at 5:30 pm we will have the first family Shabbat for this year. This is a special program geared for families with young children. We will start with a potluck dinner and then learn a few abbreviated prayers, sing songs and listen to stories. This program will take the place of our regular Friday night service.

A Sweet Fundraiser!

by Moncica Blatt

Beth Israel Congregation and the Bath Sweet Shoppe are conducting a sweet fundraiser to support our educational programming! All of the profits will go to support and enhance our educational programming for both children and adults.

The first cycle of the fundraiser coordinates with Rosh Hashanah. 8-ounce honey jars are available in wild flower, raspberry and blueberry ($5.00). Or maybe you would like to give a special someone a bundle of honey sticks and green apple jelly beans ($5.00)! An old world tradition of a marzipan fruit basket would be a welcome treat or gift ($5.00). If chocolate is your sweet of choice, consider the dark chocolate package consisting of two dark chocolate candy bars and a chocolate L'Chaim pop ($5.00).

Do you have a Bar or Bat Mitzvah gift to give this fall? How about purchasing a Bat Mitzvah/ Bar Mitzvah candy gift box, wrapped in Star of David paper? It includes a gift envelope for you to fill ($15.00).

Orders can be placed by filling out the order form. Make checks payable to Beth Israel Congregation. Options for ordering include:

  1. Mail your order to Monica Blatt: 412 Harpswell Road, Brunswick, Maine 04011
  2. Bring your order into the Bath Sweet Shoppe (19 Centre Street, Bath, Maine)
  3. Bring it to the MInnie Brown building on Hebrew School days and drop it in
the "Candy Order Box."

Please order by September 14, 2011. Items will be available for pick-up by September 21, 2011. This would give you plenty of time should you choose to mail items as holiday gifts!

Additional fundraisers will be conducted before Chanukah and Passover.

Questions? Contact Monica Blatt at

Dine Around

by Barbara Lenox

Thursday, October 13
6:30 pm
Beale Street Barbeque

The Beth Israel Dine Around enjoyed a wonderful evening at the Dolphin Marina in August. The view alone was worth it and the food was outstanding!

Our next gathering will be on October 13th, at 6:30 pm at the Beale Street Barbeque and Grill, 215 Water St., Bath. Come on out and join us to catch up on everyone's summer happenings. We always have a good time. As always, please confirm your attendance with Barbara Lenox, so that she can make reservations in advance.

Book Club

by Barbara Lenox

Thursday, September 22
Thursday, October 20
6:30 pm

The Beth Israel Book Club has two wonderful selections for your reading pleasure in the next two months. On September 22nd, at 6:30 pm, we will meet to discuss "the sprawling historical novel that boasts its research on every page", The Secret Book of Grazia dei Rossi by Jacqueline Park. What a fun summer read!

On October 20th at 6:30 pm, we will read The Cosmopilitans by Nadia Kalman. This book has already won the Sami Rohr Prize for fiction from the Jewish Book Council as well as Moment Magazine's Fiction Award. It, too, should be a good end of summer read. We meet in the Synagogue function room and share a salad together.

Building Committee Activities

by Lee Leiner

The building committee has been busy lately. Recent repairs have included:

  • Removal of a tree that fell on the synagogue
  • Repair of a malfunctioning smoke alarm
  • Replacement of protective Plexiglas panes over the half-round stained glass windows at the synagogue
  • Replacement of insulation plugs in the synagogue vinyl siding
  • Installation of a bathroom vent cover at the synagogue

And due to a generous gift of one of our newest member families, Chico & Crissy Swartz, new handrails are being installed along the stairs to the bimah in the synagogue sanctuary. This effort should enhance access to the bimah for those members needing a little assistance and allow them to fully participate in all services. The handrails are expected to be in place for the High Holidays.

We are continuing to investigate replacing the carpet and improving the ventilation in the upstairs room at Minnie Brown and repairing the front doors at the synagogue.

Give and Go Sale Raises Approximately $1500 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 want or need. These items get donated by the students, and then collected, sorted and sold by volunteers (us). This year, the "Give and Go" raised approximately $52,000 dollars for area non-profits. There were 25 organizations selected to help, and together worked over 2000 hours. The profits are distributed to each organization based on the number of hours they contribute. Each hour was worth approximately $14 this year. Each year that amount changes. We are happy to say that Beth Israel volunteered 114 hours and received over $1500 for our efforts. This is a big deal for the congregation, none of which would have been possible without the help of many different people.

I am pleased to report that we had 28 people who were able to volunteer some time to help Beth Israel. Each of the people not only helped to raise money for Beth Israel and slow down the waste that fills the Brunswick landfill, but they also had the opportunity to get some incredible bargains in the process. This is an easy fundraiser, one that I hope Beth Israel can participate in again next year. So, when you see the announcement next year, please consider signing up for a shift. You'll be amazed at how much fun you will have.

Thank you to the following people who 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.

Auction Raises over $6,000

by Marilyn Weinberg

The Synagogue auction gala held on July 16th was a great success, earning us over $6,000 for our beleaguered budget. 10% of the profits are being donated to the Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program.

Over 60 people filled the Minnie Brown Center to enjoy delicious food and wine and compete with each other in bidding for some amazing items. Congratulation to the Tessler Ireland family who made the high bid for the week in Sanibel Island donated by Jay & Lenore Friedland. We are all a little jealous. And of course Andy Hagler did a great job of auctioning off a weekend at his lakeside retreat. Many thanks go to the amazing group of volunteers who made the event possible. The committee of Marilyn Weinberg, Lenore Friedland, Jill Standish, Barbara Lenox, Lynn Frank, Sharon Drake, Norma Dreyfus, Rea Turet and the Spiegleman Boyd family worked hard to make this event a success.

We extend our thanks to the following businesses for generously donating items or gift certificates. We hope you will visit these establishments and thank them for their contributions.

  • Big Top Deli
  • Ocean Properties ltd.
  • Day's Jewelry
  • Dot's Ice Cream
  • Papa Geppetto's Workshop
  • Wilbur's of Maine
  • Evening Star Cinema
  • Summer Island Studio
  • Pauline's Bloomers
  • Bart & Greg's
  • Bath Sweet Shop
  • Coastal Botanical Garden
  • NNE Passenger Rail Authority
  • Farnsworth Art Museum
  • H2O Outfitters
  • Morning Glory
  • Maine Eastern Railroad
  • Maine Pines
  • Maine Roasters Coffee
  • Maine State Music Theater
  • Mr. Bagel
  • Portland Museum of Art
  • Portland Stage
  • Portland Sea Dogs
  • Shaw's
  • Squire Tarbox Inn
  • Wild Oats
  • Tony Zumba

We also had a group of generous members and friends who donated items for our auction. Their donations really made the difference.

  • Lori & Irwin Brodsky
  • Jeff Cohen & Nancy Heiser
  • John & Marilyn Darak
  • Zachary Fields
  • Lynn Frank
  • Jay & Lenore Friedland
  • Todd & Cynthia Gandler
  • Marji Greenhut
  • Andy & Deb Hagler
  • Mark Ireland & Lisa Tessler
  • Lee Leiner & Lisa Trembley
  • Larry Loeb & Linda Silberstein
  • Diane Moyer
  • Mort & Evelyn Panish
  • Jim Raker and Virginia VanSlyke
  • Joanne Rosenthal & Josh Katz
  • Andy & Chris Schoenberg
  • Denise & Sheldon Tepler
  • Marilyn & Fred Weinberg

Birthdays and Anniversaries

September Birthdays September Anniversaries
6 Beth Westman   3 Linda Silberstein & Larry Loeb
12 Abby Sreden   29 Lisa Tessler & Mark Ireland
12 Zoe Sreden      
20 Zelda Clegg      
20 Lola Lea      
23 Jeremy Fields      
23 Eydie Rose Kaplan      
28 Diane Gilman      


October Birthdays October Anniversaries
8 Beth Pols   12 Jennifer & Allan Kaplan
14 Evelyn Panish   29 Beth & Dennis Westman
17 Allan Kaplan      
21 Barbara Lenox      
22 Shira Gersh      
22 Jacob Schoenberg      


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

  • Marina & Stephen Singer in memory of Bessie Singer & Henrietta Shapiro
  • Maurice Libner and Sharon Bouchard
  • Barrett and Barbara Silver
  • Peggy Brown & John Martel in memory of her mother, Lucille Hershenhart
  • Marilyn & Fred Weinberg in memory of her father, Max Isacoff
  • Ellen & Michael Hagler in memory of David Goldman
  • Marji Greenhut in memory of Sylvia Greenhut
  • Joan & Jeremy Fields in memory of her father, Arthur Blatt
  • Monica & Gordon Blatt in memory of his father, Arthur Blatt
  • Denise Linet & Gary Torow in memory of Abraham Linet
  • Michele Riley in memory of her mother Paula Travers
  • Raymond and Sheila Lucente
  • Joseph & Jill Cooper
  • Josh & Meghan Nathanson
  • Riva Greenblatt Gotlib in memory of Sam Shapiro
  • Donna Rubin in memory of her mother Mary and her cousin Sylvia Cohen Brown
  • Marcia Klompus in memory of her father, Benjamin Mensh
  • Winifred Silverman in memory of Anne & Albert Skigen
  • Jerrold Lurie in memory of Celia and Phillip Lurie