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Beth Israel Congregation


Beth Israel Congregation Newsletter

May/June 2012
Iyyar/Sivan/Tammuz 5772

Bar/Bat Mitzvah: "It Takes a Village"
Annual Meeting
Shavuot/Graduation Service
Book Club
Give and Go Fundraiser
News from the Hebrew School
Passover Seder
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

Bar/Bat Mitzvah: "It Takes a Village"

by Cantor Daniel Leeman

This spring and next fall we have a number of wonderful Bar/Bat Mitzvah students who will be called to the Torah to bless G-d for all the goodness in their lives since they have been born. This rite of passage indicates a "coming of age," when the youngsters are deemed old enough to distinguish right from wrong and adopt the same Jewish obligations as an adult. Literally they will become a son (bar) or a daughter (bat) of the commandments (mitzvot).

The image of a child being called to the Torah to bless G-d, as he or she is welcomed by a community, is quite beautiful. Some people believe that if one is surrounded by friends and family this is enough. But in truth, it is a public ceremony. People should not feel that they need an invitation to attend. Any Jewish person, especially a member of Beth Israel Congregation, should not only feel welcome, but should feel obligated to serve as part of that welcoming group that says amen to the youngster's blessings. The people who are not the inner circle of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah "family" actually lend legitimacy to the ceremony itself. It is the people who live along the midcoast of Maine, and study, pray, practice and observe regularly, and maintain a membership at the synagogue that form the welcoming community for the child.

So when you meet and observe the brilliant and talented students who will be celebrating their Bar/Bat Mitzvah, believe that you will make a difference for them by being there. Mark you calendars and come enjoy. Don't feel you need an invitation to attend the ceremony. All you need is a Jewish heart that wants to share in a beautiful moment in the life of our community.

May 5 Noa Sreden
May 19 Sullivan Boyd
June 9 Arielle Leeman
August 18 Zelda Clegg
October 6 Henry Raker

Annual Meeting

by Andy Hagler

Sunday, June 17
9:30 a.m.

The Congregation's Annual Meeting is scheduled for Sunday, June 17th at the Synagogue. We will begin with an informal brunch at 9:30 a.m., followed by the meeting at 10:00 a.m.

I encourage all members to attend this important Congregation meeting. The Cantor, the Board, and members of various committees will be giving reports regarding the state of the Congregation. The Board's proposed financial budget for the upcoming year will also be presented.

This is an excellent opportunity for members to provide input into the future direction of our Synagogue and our programming and, yes, to become part of a shared vision by getting involved and joining a committee.

I look forward to seeing you at the meeting.

Shavuot/Graduation Service

by Barbara Leeman

Thursday, May 24
6:00 p.m.

Shavuot is known by several names: Festival of Weeks, Festival of the First-Fruits, and Festival of the Harvest. Shavuot commemorates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai including the Ten Commandments and the 613 Mitzvah Observances.

At Beth Israel, we often associate our "first-fruits" as those of our Hebrew school graduates. They have been given an opportunity to learn Hebrew, Jewish prayer and understand and appreciate our Jewish customs and culture. We have a number of graduating students who 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 Josie Adolf, Tobyn Blatt, Avi Gersh, Nicholas Hagler, Isabella Pols, and Leah Totman. We are very proud of their accomplishments. We look forward to having them lead our Shavuot Service, on Thursday, May 24th. We will gather for a potluck dinner at 5:00 p.m., and our service will begin at 6:00 p.m. Whether you have a student in the school or not, please know that this is a celebration of Shavuot for our whole community, and we would love to have you join us.

Book Club

by Barbara Lenox

Monday, June 21
6:30 p.m.

The Beth Israel Book Club is ready start up again and offers a fun place to discuss interesting books. Come and join us with your suggestions for summer reading. The first book we will discuss is What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank by Nathan Englander. It is available through the library system. A quote from Amazon says, "These eight new stories from the celebrated novelist and short - story writer Nathan Englander display a gifted young author grappling with the great questions of modern life..." I'm sure we can find lots to talk about.

Please respond to Barbara Lenox if you are interested in joining us.

Give and Go Fundraiser

by Barbara Leeman

Bowdoin's Give and Go, the big end of the year student move-out program, is soon approaching. As 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. Depending on how many volunteer hours we are able to provide, will determine how big a percentage of the profits come back to Beth Israel. The whole community benefits. For those of you who have participated before, you know it is a lot of work, but a great way to raise money for our congregation while also keeping a lot of usable goods out of the local landfill. It also provides great deals for people in the community.

Many non-profits have heard about this fundraiser, and there is considerable competition to get shifts. We have just received our schedule and we have open spots that we will need to fill. Shifts are from either 9:00-12:00 p.m. or 1:00-4:00 p.m. between May 16th, right up to sale day (June 9th). If you find you have some flexibility during the day and would like to do a mitzvah, please email or call, so that I can tell you what shifts are available.

Beth Israel earned over $1000 last year. This was really wonderful, since everyone put in only a few hours each. Some had so much fun, they took more than one shift. I hope many will consider helping this year.

Please contact me as soon as you know that you can make a commitment to help.

News from the Hebrew School

by Marina Singer

The holidays of Purim and Passover have kept all the classes busy for the past couple of months.

We all missed Cantor Dan's presence for a couple of weeks, but the children got an opportunity to practice what they have been learning at prayer time by helping to lead the service at the beginning of the school period. The weekly repetition of the prayers and chanting help the children understand the significance of the prayers, as well as being able to sing the tunes with ease.

Lavan and Zahav

The Lavan and Zahav classes joined together to create a Passover production with Morah Alina. The whole school got to take part in the play, including the audience. These classes also had a really fun activity that included learning how to ask for matzo and various toppings in Hebrew, including thank you as well. This was a very popular and tasty activity!

Kachol Class

The Kachol class has finished learning all the letters of the Hebrew Alef-Bet, and Morah Susan has kept them busy reading about Passover, using their talents in the art department, and planting when the weather was warm.

Zahav Class

The Zahav class is beginning to prepare for their graduation next month. We will be graduating Avi Gersh, Leah Totman, Isabella Pols, Nick Hagler, and Tobyn Blatt.

Gan Class

The Gan Class has continued to meet on one Sunday every month. They have enjoyed learning about the stories of Purim and Passover. The children explore the holidays using literature, song, traditional holiday foods, artwork and always some fun game that helps them understand a little more about each holiday.

Passover Seder

by Lenore Friedland

On Saturday, April 7th the Minnie Brown Center was filled with warmth, song, great food and entertainment when eighty people attended our annual community Seder. Thanks to Daniel for leading the service. Thanks to Alina Shumsky and her Hebrew School class, which performed a song with audience participation, putting a smile on everyone's faces.

In addition, we owe thanks to Marilyn and Fred Weinberg, the Chai committee, Stan Lane and Chico Swartz for helping to set up, the Boyd family for getting all the food out and to all those wonderful cooks - we had a feast! A special thank you to all of you who cleaned up so thoroughly and quickly.

Birthdays and Anniversaries

May Birthdays May Anniversaries
6 Daniel Giulianti   25 Barbara & Robert Lenox
9 Steve Singer   27 Susan Horowitz & Robert Gersh
12 Rachel Schoenberg   28 Rea Turet & Sandy Polster
15 Denise Tepler   29 Mara & Donny Giulianti
18 Heather Gilman-Davis   31 Beth & Benet Pols
19 Ruth Benedikt  
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
28 Rea Turet   18 Monica & Gordon Blatt
  22 Christina & Andrew Schoenberg

Welcome to New Members

  • Joseph and Jill Cooper and their daughter Cecily


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

Members of Beth Israel Congregation

  • Donald and Mara Giulianti in memory of Leon Berman
  • Gary Torow in memory of Ann Torow
  • Abraham and Adaia Shumsky
  • Fred and Marilyn Weinberg in memory of Fred Gersh
  • Robert, Susan, Shira, and Avi Gersh in memory of Robert's father Fred Gersh

Friends of Beth Israel Congregation

  • Reginald and Tinker Hannaford