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Beth Israel Congregation


Beth Israel Congregation Newsletter

March/April 2013
Adar/Nisan/Iyyar 5773

Cantor's Message
Sharing Our Roots
Community Passover Seder
Media Power Youth
Israel Independence Day Celebration
Memorial Plaque
Call to Volunteers
News from the Hebrew School
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

Cantor's Message

by Cantor Daniel Leeman

Shabbat Zachor is translated as the Sabbath of Remembrance. It establishes the mitzvah that requires us to remind ourselves what tyrants are capable of doing. For example, instead of helping us with food and water, as we trekked through the wilderness; the cruel Amalekites, who were tyrants, attacked the weakest among us. The Torah compels us to take note of this evil. This solemn reminder always immediately precedes the festival of Purim.

In the story of Purim, the heroine Esther, decided it was time to risk her own life, to stop the tyrant, Haman, and save our people. She even asked special dispensation from the king of Persia to allow the Jewish people to fight an additional day in the capital city, Shushan. This additional day allowed our people to defeat all of Haman's collaborators, to assure Jewish security and freedom. This is the source of Shushan Purim, which is celebrated one day after Purim, in commemoration of Esther's success at extending our rights to defend ourselves against tyrants.

One of the great lessons we can take from both Shabbat Zachor (Amalekite remembrance), and the Purim story, is that there are times when it is wise to stop and consider one's options; yet there are also times when it is necessary to act decisively in the face of cruelty or tyranny. The psychiatrist, Rollo May phrased it well: "Courage is not the absence of despair. It is the capacity to move ahead despite despair."

A great example of this courage is Ben Gurion's actions in the spring of 1948. Under great pressure from the United States and many of his colleagues, Ben Gurion insisted on declaring the Jewish State immediately, upon the termination of the British mandate. There were so many voices that said: "Wait, don't rush. You can always declare independence later. Let's have a cooling off period. Maybe the Arabs will have a change of heart. Let's wait and see what happens." It is frightening to contemplate what would have happened had Ben Gurion taken this advice. Perhaps there would be no Israel today.

The generation from the Exodus from Egypt showed this type of courage, as they were standing at the Red Sea with the Egyptian chariots bearing down on them. Some people said, "Let's go back to Egypt. At least as slaves, we'll experience troubles about which we know." Yet, others were willing to risk their lives to face the unknowns that come with freedom. They acted decisively and moved forward into the sea with faith in the face of tyranny. Had they hesitated to act; perhaps we would have been captured, and returned. The Jewish people, as we know, may not have survived.

Today, we should meet our challenges with faith and resolve. Both as a people and as individuals, we should consider the lessons of history; so we may acquire the wisdom to know when to stop and consider, and when to act decisively to protect and sustain ourselves. Even though there are no guarantees and there are always risks; we must always be prepared to act, especially when by waiting, we allow others to determine our destiny.

Sharing Our Roots

by Marilyn Weinberg

Friday, March 15
7:00 p.m.

After taking a brief winter break we will continue our Sharing Our Roots series. Although some of our stories sound similar on the surface, each one is unique and fascinating.

On Friday, March 15, Lynn Frank will talk about her family's journey to the United Sates and eventually to Texas where life was certainly very different. I have heard a few tidbits from Lynn and I am excited to hear more.

I hope you will come.

Community Passover Seder

by Marilyn Weinberg

Tuesday, March 26
5:00 p.m.

You are invited to join family and friends for a potluck Community Passover Seder.

Reservations required by March 18. Please e-mail

To cover expenses:
$5.00 per person/$10.00 per family for members
$10.00 per person/$20.00 per family for non-members

Media Power Youth

Sunday, April 7
11:00 a.m.

The Chai committee is in the process of planning an event on Sunday, April 7 at 11:00 a.m. at the Synagogue. Rona Zlokower, the Executive Director of Media Power Youth in Manchester, New Hampshire will present and lead a discussion on the increasing influence of media on children's health and behaviors. We will keep you posted as we finalize our plans.

For more information about Media Power Youth, please visit their website:

The public is invited and admission is free.

Israel Independence Day Celebration

by Marilyn Weinberg

Friday, April 12
5:30 p.m.
Minnie Brown Center

Let us join together for an Israel Independence Day (Yom Ha'atzmaut) celebration. We will share a meal, sing songs and do some Israeli dancing led by Lisa Tessler.

We will start at 5:30 p.m. with a potluck dinner. If possible bring a Middle Eastern type of food. This will be fun for all ages, so please come.

Sample foods to bring:
(but any non-meat item - including pizza - will be fine)
falafel, Israeli salad, pita, hummus, chickpea salad, baba ganoush, eggplant dishes, couscous, fruit, cheeses and chocolate (this is my addition)

Contact Marilyn Weinberg by April 2 to reserve your space. There will be a fee of $5 per person or $10 per family to cover our costs.

Memorial Plaque

by Lynn Frank

To honor all of those congregants who have participated or died in a branch of the armed forces, there is a commemorative plaque in the foyer of Beth Israel synagogue. We would like to update the plaque. If your name should be included or if you know of a past member who should be included, please contact a member of the Board of Directors. We greatly appreciate and want to honor all members of Beth Israel Congregation who have served for our freedom.

Call to Volunteers

by Barbara Leeman

It's time to start planning for Bowdoin's Give and Go 2013. This event is the big end of the year student move-out program. As students are clearing out their dorm rooms and returning home for the summer, they find there are many items they do not need or want. These items get donated by the students, and then collected, sorted and sold by volunteers (us). The entire community benefits from this event. The number of volunteer hours we are able to provide will determine how big a percentage of the profits comes back to Beth Israel. 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 Brunswick landfill. It also provides great deals for people in the community. It's really a win-win situation.

There are many shifts available from the 3rd week in May through the 2nd week of June. Many people were able to give of their time generously last year. Some even worked more than one shift. If this is something you are interested in, please call or email Barbara Leeman. I look forward to talking with many of you.

News from the Hebrew School

by Barbara Leeman

Special Shabbatot
Our first Hebrew school Shabbat for 5773 was on February 1, 2013. Most of our Hebrew school students were able to participate. It was a lively evening with lots of ruach (spirit), and singing. Each student studied and learned new prayers to help lead the service. Our youngest students (Gan) also came out in force to watch. It was great to see them admiring the older kids, knowing that they too would have a chance to be a part of our school. Each school service is preceded by a potluck dinner, with traditional candle lighting, blessings over hand washing, the food, zmirot (Shabbat melodies) and benching (the blessing thanking G-d for the food we have just eaten).

In order to get ready for Purim, our students made Hamentashen Wednesday, February 13 before school vacation. They sampled their treats, and even made enough to leave some for the board meeting that evening. Special thanks to Michele LaForge and Susan Horowitz for sending along dough, and to Anna Boll and Chris Schoenberg for helping the kids to make the Hamentashen look good and taste delicious.

This year, we took a small break from our usual Purim carnival. On February 27,, our Hebrew school kids, along with some members of our greater Beth Israel community did a mitzvah project instead. They packed Purim baskets (Mishloat Manot) with homemade hamentashen and other treats, and are delivering these to some of the senior members of our community. This "gift" (of at least two ready to eat foods) is described in the Book of Esther (Megillat Esther), which we read at Purim. It is meant to increase love and friendship amongst Jews as a counter to Haman's assertion that the Jewish people are characterized by strife and disunity.

Our youngest group continues to meet one Sunday each month. The next Gan (kindergarten group) meets on March 24. For more information about this program, please email:

Looking Forward
There is much to look forward to in March and April. March 1 brings us to another Family Shabbat aimed at our youngest group. This begins with dinner at 5:30 p.m., and a very short service beginning at 6:15. If you know anyone with young children, please let them know about this opportunity.

March brings Passover in, while April brings in Yom Hashoah and Yom Ha'Azmaut. Our model Passover Seder (March 20) is a great educational tool for the kids, while Yom Hashoah (April 10) is more solemn a time, for us to introduce WWII to the students. Yom Ha'Azmaut (to be celebrated on April 12) is our opportunity to celebrate Israel's Independence while we learn Israeli dance steps (with the community).

Birthdays and Anniversaries

March Birthdays March Anniversaries
3 Donny Giulianti   15 Jennie & Campbell Clegg
4 Robert Lenox      
8 Teresa Gandler      
9 Andrew Schoenberg      
10 Monica Blatt      
11 Nicholas Giulianti      
12 Ethan Blatt      
12 Tobyn Blatt      
13 Jennie Clegg      
13 Corey Coutu      
17 Dana Malseptic      
23 Ben Raker      
27 Noah Sreden      
28 Campbell Clegg      


April Birthdays  
2 Lisa Tessler      
5 Nadia Leiner      
7 Sumner Blatt      
8 Mort Panish      
9 Susan Horowitz      
9 Jessica Lewis      
29 Matt Miller      


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

Members of Beth Israel Congregation

  • Matthew Budd and Rosalind Gorin
  • Marty Fox and Thyle Sharter in loving memory of his father Max Fox
  • Peggy Brown and John Martel in loving memory of her grandparents, Solomon and Sonia Wernick
  • Sheldon and Denise Tepler
  • George and Margaret Isaacson
  • Barbara and Robert Lenox in loving memory of Freda Selig and Fred Lenox
  • Marilyn and John Darack in loving memory of her parents, Ruth and Sterling Shapiro
  • Norma Dreyfus and Stanley Lane in loving memory of his mother, Janet Lane
  • Fred and Marilyn Weinberg in loving memory of Marvin and Frances Weinberg
  • Gary Torow in loving memory of his mother, Ann Torow
  • Michael and Ellen Hagler in loving memory of her mother, Sarah Goldman
  • Barbara and Robert Lenox in loving memory of Mishael Selig
  • Karen and Matthew Filler in loving memory of her mother, Frances Feldman
  • Jeremy and Joan Fields in loving memory of his father, David Fields

Friends of Beth Israel Congregation

  • Dr. Greg and Lynda Kelly in loving memory of Ann and Harold Lempert
  • Sheila Lucente in appreciation of the Beth Israel Congregation
  • Daniel Strauss
  • Angelo and Rosalind Rossi in loving memory of her father, Philip Rowen