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Beth Israel Congregation


Beth Israel Congregation Newsletter

November/December 2012
Heshvan/Kislev/Tevet 5773

Cantor's Message
Sharing Our Roots
Chanukah Shop
Community Chanukah Celebration
Progressive Sukkot Celebration
News from the Hebrew School
Birthdays and Anniversaries
Welcome to New Members
Flowers for the High Holidays
A Little Jewish Humor

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

Every year we come together to fast and pray on Yom Kippur. We search our own hearts to find out where we've missed the mark and we seek forgiveness and reconciliation both with G-d and our neighbors. The Holiday period culminates with Simhat Torah, where we restart the cycle of Torah reading. At that time we renew our commitment to Jewish study.

This week we begin the early portion of the book of Genesis, by studying about the life of Abraham, as he establishes a covenant with G-d that was meant to last with Abraham's descendants forever. Every year at this time we look at this covenant with fresh eyes, after having just renewed our hearts on Yom Kippur and our devotion to Jewish learning on Simhat Torah.

When we think of Abraham's covenant we may think of the Jewish people and our special connection with G-d as a nation. But this concept is much fresher, newer and more important, when we think of it as our congregation of Beth Israel in Bath, Maine. Perhaps now is the time for us to refresh ourselves by renewing our covenant with G-d, as a group, but also as individuals.

G-d wants our love and we want G-d's love. So, every time we light Sabbath candles and offer a little personal prayer, or teach a child a new Hebrew letter, we are renewing our covenant. Every time we hear the Shofar and allow it to touch our soul, or recite a blessing in the Sukkah, we are renewing our covenant. When we help at the food bank or write a check to support a worthy cause, we are renewing our covenant with G-d for a year of peace and blessing.

Share your ideas for renewing your covenant with other members of the congregation and friends. Make this a year when you commit to lighting Sabbath candles every week. Make this a year when your extended family gathers for Thanksgiving or Hannukah as an expression of love and gratitude to G-d.

This year, as part of our Exodus theme for the Hebrew School, we are asking families to step forward and tell our community their family's history in coming to America. The first one is next Shabbat, Friday, November 2 at 7:00 p.m. at 862 Washington Street. Why did they leave their country of origin? How did they make the trip? How did they get to America, or Israel, or Canada before coming to Maine? How did they make it to Maine to live and worship as part of our synagogue and/or Hebrew School community?

Let's support our friends and members and attend services these special Fridays and all Fridays and renew our commitment to our shul and our Jewish community here in Bath.

Make this year a new beginning for us as Jews, as synagogue members and as Americans. If we do it to fulfill our obligations to love G-d and abide by the beautiful traditions of our Jewish heritage, we can make our lives an example and a blessing to those around us. May G-d bless all of you in the coming year. Let's fill the upcoming year by renewing our obligations to serve G-d the best way we know how.

Sharing Our Roots

by Marilyn Weinberg

Friday, November 2
Friday, December 14
7:00 p.m. at the Synagogue

The Chai committee is organizing a new Shabbat program. So many of us are interested in our family's background. We have so many questions. Where did our great grandfathers and great grandmothers come from?

We are going to take time to share our stories once a month. We will have a brief Shabbat service and have different people talk about their family's journeys. So many are similar, and yet all are unique.

On Friday, November 2, Richard and Becky Ferstenberg will talk about their families. Richard's family came from Eastern Europe and Becky was actually born in Egypt. Both have traveled the world.

On Friday, December 14, Denise and Sheldon Tepler will talk about their families. Denise's family has been in this country for a long time. Sheldon's family escaped the Holocaust.

This is a great opportunity to get to know some of our members, but also gives us a chance to share our stories and connect with each other.

Chanukah Shop

by Marina Singer

Chanukah begins on the evening of December 8, so I'll have Chanukah items, candles of all kinds, cards galore, wrapping paper, decorations, books, children's gifts, etc. available for purchase. Also this year I have some lovely Chanukah CDs with music for all ages.

The Minnie Brown Center Chanukah store will be open during Hebrew School hours (4:00–6:00 p.m.) on Wednesdays, the 28th of November, and the 5th and 12th of December. If someone wants to purchase an item, they can call or email me to shop at another time. Anyone needing large numbers of dreidels or chocolate gelt, please let me know in early November, so that I may order those items.

Community Chanukah Celebration

by Marilyn Weinberg

Sunday, December 9
5:00 p.m. at the Synagogue

We had such a wonderful time last year we decided to keep the program the same.

We will start our celebration with a potluck dinner along with yummy potato latkes. Bring your menorah and candles, so we can light them together. On Sunday evening we will be lighting the second candle.

The great news is that we have the same wonderful entertainment in store for you that we had last year.

Matt Schreiber will be playing wonderful music for us. Matt is a professional accordionist who plays with several Klezmer groups. He specializes in European folk music, especially Balkan, Klezmer, and Eastern European styles. We will get to listen to his music as well as sing along with our favorite tunes. It will be fun for all ages.

We look forward to seeing you.

Progressive Sukkot Celebration

by Lenore Friedland

The sky might have been gray, but there was lots of warmth and good company for the many who brought delicious appetizers, soups, salads, breads and desserts to our annual Sukkot Progressive Lunch.

This year's hosting families were from Brunswick. Thank you to the Bolls, the Cleggs and the Gandlers for building beautiful and inviting sukkahs. Thank you, also, to Campbell Clegg for building a sukkah behind the shul as our safety net, should it have rained.

It was wonderful to get to know a few families we have not met before, as well as some newer members. And, of course, it is always wonderful to catch up with old friends while sharing the bounty of the season.

News from the Hebrew School

by Barbara Leeman

Hebrew school began on Wednesday September 12. Our students came back with some very interesting summer stories to share.

This year our school-wide theme focuses on the Exodus from Egypt. Beginning with the Moses story and continuing through the ten plagues and the first Passover, we will focus on the concepts of freedom. The themes of freedom and exodus lend themselves to studying the experience of immigration. Each teacher will use their own creative way of presenting these themes. As a congregation, we've also picked up on this theme and we will be having periodic presentations on Friday evenings of individuals and families, telling their stories about immigrating to Israel, to America, and of course to Maine.

Our regular Hebrew school curriculum includes Judaica (Bible, Jewish Holidays, and Jewish History) and Hebrew language instruction (reading, writing and speaking). Before going to classes, our entire school assembles for Tphillah (prayer service). We are initially continuing to work on the Kabbalat Shabbat service. Since this service welcomes in the Shabbat each Friday night, our plan is to have our students lead more Shabbat services than before. In years past, we have spent our time during our Tphillah service focusing on parts of other services including: the weekday morning Shacharit service, the afternoon Mincha service, the Torah service and others. After Tphillah, we split into our classes; but we assemble as a school again at the end of the school day, and gather upstairs for the music curriculum, which includes holiday and prayer music.

High Holiday Youth Services

Besides our classroom instruction, during which we discuss the High holidays, we have two dedicated members of our community who have been leading youth services for our kids each year. Special thanks to Denise Tepler, who led our youth service on Rosh Hashana and to Dr. Jim Raker for our Yom Kippur youth service. Both are giving of their time, and are missing large portions of the adult service in order to help our young members. Thank you also to Sam Leeman for blowing the shofar at our Rosh Hashana youth service for all those that attended.


On September 30, in honor of Sukkot, the children met to help make decorations for our school sukkah. Thank you Robert Gersh, for cutting and preparing so much shach for the sukkah rooftop and to Susan Horowitz for her creative work in preparing decorations and delicious treats for the kids to enjoy. Campbell Clegg continues to help our school put the frame together, leaving the decorating fun for the kids. Thank you Campbell. This year we moved our Sukkah to host it behind the synagogue building, making it even more accessible to our shul goers, among them Henry Raker's Bar Mitzvah guests. A big thank you to Carrie Feinberg, and our Hebrew school teachers Alina, Marina and Susan, who really used muscles to help carry the sukkah frame up Washington street. I'm sure we entertained some of our Washington street neighbors. Dismantling it couldn't have been done without the help of Teresa Gandler as well. Many thanks. After a week of rain, the weather cooperated for exactly the right amount of time, giving Cantor Daniel an opportunity to have a discussion about the holiday, and explaining the lulav and etrog and what they represent.

Simchat Torah

On October 10, we marched around our sanctuary with the Torahs, in honor of Simchat Torah. Alina's older class prepared a wonderful “Ki Mitztzion” presentation for all to join in and learn. Thank you Alina. With some guests, new members, school families, etc. it was a nice mix of people to help us sing and dance with the Torah. The kids were all called up for an aliyah, as well as each of the adults. A pizza/potluck party followed. We begin the year by starting the reading of the Torah once again.

Our Youngest Children

On September 30 we had our youngest students meet at our synagogue building for the beginning of our pre-school (Gan) calendar. Once a month, this group of students meet to learn about Jewish rituals, customs, and holidays through games, singing, craft projects and more. Our gratitude goes to Marina Singer, who shares her knowledge and skills with love. Our next Gan class will be October 28, and then again on November 25 at 9:00 a.m. It's not too late to join the fun. In addition, we host a few “Family Shabbat” services throughout the year. The first of these falls on November 16. This service is short and begins at 5:30 p.m.

Special Thanks

Thank you Susan Horowitz for planting beautiful flowers outside the Minnie Brown center with her class. It always makes our school look wonderful.

What's Coming Up?

What's Coming Up?

  • On December 9 our Hebrew school will join the community wide Chanukah party and then will celebrate Chanukah together as a school on December 12. Please mark your calendars. More information on that will be passed along, as it is available.
  • There are a few parents that now form our parent committee. Despite being few in number, we always plan many nice extras for our students to enjoy throughout the course of the year. We have only four meetings. These meetings provide us an opportunity to discuss how our students are learning at Hebrew school, and how improvements can be made. Our next meeting is scheduled for November 14 at 5:00 p.m. at the Minnie Brown Center. Please consider coming to join us.
  • Parents are always welcome to stay and learn with our students during Hebrew school. The prayer services at the beginning of instruction, or the singing at the end, are perfect times to join our school kids. In addition, our teachers are always available for discussion if you are ever curious about some of your student's work. Active Hebrew parent as learner, inspire our students to be more active as well.

It is our pleasure to welcome Alva Gandler, son of Teresa and Todd Gandler, Mayim Feinberg, daughter of Carrie and Jessie Feinberg and Maggie Adolf, daughter of Michele LaForge and Jim Adolf as new students at our school. They began their Hebrew studies with us this year. We are very excited about the new energy these students bring to our school.

Birthdays and Anniversaries

November Birthdays November Anniversaries
1 Sophie Sreden   2 Cristina & Stacey Giulianti
2 Gordon Blatt   3 Steven Paul & Anita Lichman
10 Rachel Clegg   28 Ann & Ross Lewis
12 Dennis Westman      
15 Alva Gandler      
15 Joyce Bellevue      
16 Larry Loeb      
18 Eli Schoenberg      
21 Joan Fields      
30 Carrie Feinberg      


December Birthdays December Anniversaries
2 Jennifer Kaplan   15 Joan & Jeremy Fields
6 Todd Gandler      
7 Nicholas Hagler      
22 Sam Leeman      
27 Ed Benedikt      
31 Christine Giulianti      
31 Michele Riley      

Welcome to New Members

  • Anita Lichman, Steven Paul, and their son Jacob from Arrowsic, ME
  • Marty Fox and Thyle Sharter from Wiscasset, ME


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

Members of Beth Israel Congregation

  • Robert and Barbara Lenox in honor of their grandsons Zachary and Jaydon Bronstein
  • Lisa Tessler and Mark Ireland
  • Herb and Harriet Paris
  • Jay and Lenore Friedland in memory of her father, Israel Itzkowitz
  • Betsy Atkins in memory of her parents, Jacob Robert Fishkind and Barbara Marilyn Fishkind (Bronstein)
  • Steven Stern and Arlene Morris
  • Larry Loeb and Linda Silberstein
  • Janice Povich
  • Dr. Irwin and Lori Brodsky
  • Morton and Evelyn Panish in memory of Henry Chaim
  • Donna and Peter Rubin in memory of Morris and Mary Petlock
  • Norma Dreyfus and Stan Lane
  • Stephen and Barbara Baseman in honor of the High Holidays
  • Jeff Cohen and Nancy Heiser
  • Barrett and Barbara Silver in honor of Cantor Daniel Leeman for his wonderful High Holiday services and in honor of Marilyn Weinberg for all of her efforts in making the High Holiday services a true community function
  • Marc and Crissy Swartz in memory of his mother, Janet Lee Swartz
  • Richard Smith in memory of his mother, Sara Smith

Friends of Beth Israel Congregation

  • Ruth Benedikt
  • Nathan Cogan in memory of Sylvia Cohen Brown, 1932–2011 (Born in Bath)
  • Robin Brooks in honor of the High Holidays
  • Norman Cherner to the Hebrew School Scholarship Fund in memory of his brother, Jeffrey Robert Cherner
  • Helene and Elliot Lerner to the Hebrew School Scholarship Fund in memory of her cousin, Jeffrey Robert Cherner
  • Glenn and Beth Eisman in honor of the High Holidays
  • Annie Valliere in honor of the High Holidays
  • Dr. W. H. Friedman and Hillary Friedman in honor of the High Holidays
  • Larry and Brenda Rubenstein in honor of the High Holidays
  • Bruce Kapner in honor of the High Holidays
  • Louis and Janet Gross in honor of the High Holidays
  • Minnie, Scott, and Terri Fiertner in memory of Abraham Shumsky
  • Mrs. Juliet Dirolf, Amy and Jon Lomitola, and Amy and Todd Dirolf in memory of Abraham Shumsky
  • Ruth and Lester Votava in memory of Abraham Shumsky
  • Richard and Becky Ferstenberg in honor of the High Holidays
  • Richard and Becky Ferstenberg in honor of Simchat Torah
  • Jenny Levison in honor of the High Holidays
  • Joel Kavet in honor of the High Holidays
  • Marji Greenhut in memory of her father, Herman Greenhut
  • Stewart and Claudine Cohen in honor of the High Holidays
  • Marcia and Leonard Klompus in memory of her mother Dorice Povich Mensh
  • Mark Kline in memory of Abraham Shumsky
  • Eleanor Adiel in memory of Dr. Abraham Shumsky
  • Doug and Deborah Morton in memory of Abraham Shumsky
  • Lawrence and Jeana Rakovan in memory of Abraham Shumsky

Flowers for the High Holidays

by Marina Singer

Thank you to everyone who made donations towards the beautiful flower arrangements that graced our bimah for the High Holidays

  • Jim Raker and Virginia Van Slyke in honor of the Raker family.
  • Barbara and Barrett Silver in memory of their parents, Milton and Rose Silver and Samuel and Jean Becker
  • Barbara and Robert Lenox in honor of their grandsons Zachary and Jayden Bronstein
  • Barbara and Stephen Baseman
  • Sharon Drake in memory of Edward Kravitz
  • Karen and Matthew Filler in memory of their parents, Gerald and Frances Feldman and Morris and Gladys Filler

A Little Jewish Humor

A woman goes to the post office to buy stamps for her Chanukah cards. She says to the clerk "May I have fifty Chanukah stamps please." "What denomination?" says the clerk? The woman says "Oy God, has it come to this? Okay, give me six orthodox, twelve conservative and thirty-two reform!"