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Beth Israel Congregation


Beth Israel Congregation Newsletter

May/June 2013
Iyyar /Sivan/Tammuz 5773

Cantor's Message
Annual Meeting
Media Power Youth
Upcoming B'nei and B'not Mitzvah
A Special Invitation
Ada Y Greenblatt Plaque
Call to Volunteers
News from the Hebrew School
Hebrew School Scholarship Fund
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

We are all horrified by the catastrophe perpetrated by young terrorists in Boston last week. Those who died and were injured at the Boston Marathon bombings and at MIT cause our hearts to go out with compassion to both the living and dead, and their loved ones and friends. Anger and frustration at such a seemingly senseless loss may cause one to despair of G-d's role in our world.

Over 90 countries were represented in this year's Boston Marathon. It is a symbol of international cooperation, and peaceful relations in the world, through the advancement of human achievement in sport. Like the Olympic games that are meant to be a performance of human progress in the world, we honor all those competitors who challenge their bodies, their strength and their endurance to come together in peaceful, healthy, honorable sport. The three fatalities at the finish line may make one sense they died on the altar of peace and freedom. Were the three who died, including an eight-year-old child, truly martyrs?

The young man, Sean Collier, a law enforcement officer who died in the line of duty, providing public safety on his beloved campus of MIT, died serving others in a job he loved. In the eyes of our Jewish sages, does he qualify as a martyr?

In Hebrew, we use the phrase "Al Kedushat Hashem", referring to martyrs who die "while sanctifying G-d's Name". When we refer to true martyrs we describe those who died as an innocent, performing good deeds of peace while serving our communal wants and needs for peaceful relationships and security. For example, Rabbi Akiva died as a famous Jewish martyr who refused to cease teaching Torah at the demand of the Roman censors and oppressors. He died after his capture from the secret study halls and was burned alive in the public square for his defiance of Roman tyranny.

In Lev, 22:32 we read, "You shall not profane My holy Name, that I may be sanctified in the midst of the Israelite people..." The rabbis interpret this verse to mean that when one truly sanctifies G-d's Name (Kiddush Hashem) it is essentially a public act. For example, a minyan is required to recite the Mourner's Kaddish because the congregation is strengthened when a newly bereaved person, who might have reason to feel angry with G-d stands up in its midst to praise G-d.

Despite our despair at these tragic losses, and our concern to bring about an appropriate, just response, it is important to remember that there is no greater achievement for a Jew than acting in a way that causes others to praise and respect the God of Israel and the Torah's ways. Conversely, there is no graver sin for a Jew than acting in a way that causes people to think less of Israel's God and Israel's laws. (Babylonian Talmud Yoma 86A)

So, let us act to help alleviate suffering. Let us praise the first responders, and the healers, who helped save life and limb. Let us pray to understand G-d's purpose for us, so that we may respond to such tragedies as instruments of peace.

Annual Meeting

Sunday, June 2
Beth Israel Synagogue

9:30 a.m. - Brunch
10:00 a.m. - Meeting

All synagogue members are welcome and encouraged to come. Don't miss this opportunity to express your point of view about the future of our synagogue.

Join the discussion of our proposed budget and our financial challenges.

Come and enjoy the good food and the company!

Media Power Youth

by Lenore Friedland

On Sunday, April 7, Beth Israel Congregation got a chance to attend and participate in a wonderful presentation by Rona Zlokower, the Executive Director of Media Power Youth in Manchester, NH. The goal of the program was to provide a continuum of health focused media education from early childhood through young adulthood and to empower youth to lead healthy, safe lives through smart use of media. She presented research-based evidence showing the effects of media on children's behavior. She encouraged questions both during the presentation and afterwards. It was an opportunity for anyone with children, grandchildren, or those that work with children, to have more insight as to the effects of media on our kids. It was also an opportunity to learn how to guide children to be more aware of the effects of all media, whether it is a commercial on television or the latest video game they are playing. It was an honor to have her join us.

Upcoming B'nei and B'not Mitzvah

by Marilyn Weinberg

Please mark your calendars and come join our many young members who are celebrating their ritual into adulthood. The families of the B'nei and B'not Mitzvah welcome all members of the congregation to the Saturday service. You will be doing a Mitzvah if you come.

  • Leah Totman and Isabella Pols on May 18 at 5:00 p.m.
  • Sadie Pressman on May 25 at 9:30 a.m.
  • Nicholas Hagler on June 8 at 9:30 a.m.
  • Tobyn Blatt on June 22 at 9:30 a.m

A Special Invitation

by Tobyn Blatt

Shalom, my name is Tobyn Blatt and my Bar Mitzvah is on June 22, 2013. I am a 7th grader from Brunswick and I am 13. I enjoy sports such as track, biking and especially soccer. I am also on the math team at my school.

My Bar Mitzvah project is to leave places better than I find them and do unrecognized good deeds. I decided to do this as my project because in my Torah portion G-d saves the Israelites without them recognizing many times G-d's contributions, and I found that very honorable.

I would be honored to have you join me at my Bar Mitzvah on June 22. We will be having lunch at the Minnie Brown Center after the service.

Ada Y Greenblatt Plaque

by Lisa Tessler

Friday, May 17
7:00 p.m.

The Board wishes to invite members of the congregation to a special Shabbat Evening Service and tribute to Ada Y Greenblatt on Friday, May 17, 2013. Ada was a vibrant member and generous contributor to Beth Israel Congregation during her lifetime. She left a legacy that will be honored in the unveiling of a plaque bearing her name. The Pols and Totman families, who are related to Ada, will host the Oneg that evening in honor of the B'not Mitvah of their daughters, Isabella and Leah.

Call to Volunteers

by Barbara Leeman

We were awarded some shifts for the Bowdoin Give and Go! Our shifts are available from June 2-8 with a variety of times.

The process of being selected as one of the non-profits to help with Bowdoin's Give and Go is a bit competitive. There were sixteen non-profits selected to participate this year in the big end of the year student move-out program. Essentially, 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. 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 many usable goods out of the Brunswick landfill. It also provides great deals for people in the community. It's really a win-win situation.

If this is something you are interested in, please call or email Barbara Leeman at I look forward to talking with many of you.

News from the Hebrew School

by Barbara Leeman

Our Hebrew school is nearing its 5773 (2012-13) end. Many thanks to our teachers: Marina Singer, Alina Shumsky, Susan Horowitz and Cantor Daniel for plugging away each week to share their knowledge and their enthusiasm to our students. Thank you to our parents, many of who work hard all day, and then make a bit of a trek out to Bath to make sure our kids are getting a Jewish education. Mazel Tov!

Purim Treats

The kids received many positive notes in response to the Purim treats (Mishloat Manot) that were put together for some of our senior members. It was a terrific Mitzvah project for them to do, and clearly brightened up many homes during the cold February we had. This was a way of bringing together the generations within Beth Israel. Because of our success, we are considering starting this as a Purim tradition. We may look to our community, and let the treats be "ordered" as a way of sending greetings to one another. We are also looking for additional ways to connect the generations. Any thoughts on this, please feel free to contact Barbara Leeman at


A little spring cleaning (of our leavened products-Chametz), helped us to get ready for Passover. Susan helped her class fill the air with the smell of their fresh homemade matzah. Yum! Our Hebrew school had a Model Seder, which was rich with information, and more importantly, filled with questions. Our oldest class prepared the four questions in a unique way. Hand motions for each word of the blessing were used, and as each word was repeated, we all joined in with the hand motions. Thank you Alina for all your positive energy while working with this group. Thank you to our Hebrew school parents who sent along eggs, juice, matzah, and of course, Susan's famous matzah crunch.

Yom Hashoah

On April 10 we spent half of our Hebrew school day remembering the Holocaust. We viewed a video of Iska Cole, a survivor who lives in our community. We honored the memory of those who perished with a small ceremony, in which we lit six candles to remember the six million Jews whose lives were cut short. Our students finished the day by writing notes to Iska, who hopes to meet our students in the near future.

Yom Ha'Azmaut

Lisa Tessler led Israeli dancing on Friday, April 12 for our whole community in honor of Israel Independence Day. Some of our students were able to attend this, and learn new dances. Lisa is an Israeli dance teacher known beyond our state borders, and we are quite lucky to have her expertise. After a short service led by Cantor Daniel, along with our singing of the Israeli National Anthem (Hatikva), we danced the rest of the night away. Everyone had a wonderful time.


Our youngest group continues to meet one Sunday each month with Marina. The next Gan (kindergarten group) meets on May 5. In addition to the games, puzzles, and learning fun Marina provides, the plan is for these youngsters to learn more about Havdallah by making their own Havdallah "kits." These would include the braided candle, a spice box (B'somim box) and a Kiddush cup. They will have a chance to use their "kits" on May 11, at our Family Havdallah service. For more information about this program, please email

Looking forward

There are a number of upcoming events for May and June.

May 1
We enjoy Lag B'Omer games on the library lawn (weather dependent) with an ice cream party. Our Gan class should consider joining the fun as well.
May 3
We will have our next School Shabbat Service. The kids will be leading our service (Friday night).
May 11
Our family Havdallah service (come in your pajamas for a potluck dinner) will be at 5:30 p.m. This is an early night, so encourage our youngest group to join us.
May 15
A Shavuot service will be held during Hebrew school hours.
May 22
Our family Havdallah service (come in your pajamas for a potluck dinner) will be at 5:30 p.m. This is an early night, so encourage our youngest group to join us.

Hebrew School Scholarship Fund

by Robert Gersh

Our Congregation has a Hebrew School scholarship fund to help students with financial needs cover the cost of their tuition. Many of our Hebrew School's students have directly benefited from this scholarship fund. We would like to continue to provide financial help to those students who need it, but our fund is almost depleted. We therefore invite those in our community to make contributions to replenish our Hebrew School Scholarship Fund. The Hebrew School gives our children a foundation to their Jewish identity and helps ensure the future of our Congregation.

You can make a real and positive difference in our congregation by making a donation to this fund! Simply make your check payable to: Beth Israel Congregation and mail it to Beth Israel Congregation, Attn. Treasurer, 906 Washington Street, Bath, ME 04530. Be sure to write "Hebrew School Scholarship Fund" in the memo section of your check and enclose a short note stating your intentions. Your contributions are tax deductible and will be recognized in the Congregation newsletter, unless you wish to remain anonymous. Please contact our Treasurer, Robert Gersh, if you have any questions. Thank you for your support!

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   29 Mara & Donny Giulianti
18 Heather Gilman-Davis   31 Beth & Benet Pols
19 Ruth Benedikt  
20 Arthur Davis      


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

  • Bob Lobis and Judy Wolfe of Bath, Maine


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


  • Barbara and Robert Lenox in loving memory of her brother, Edward L. Selig
  • Barbara and Robert Lenox in appreciation for the Hebrew SchoolÕs Purim Baskets
  • Barrett and Barbara Silver in loving memory of his mother, Rose Hurwitz Silver
  • Barrett and Barbara Silver in appreciation for the Hebrew SchoolÕs Purim Baskets
  • Barry and Adele Faber in appreciation for the Hebrew SchoolÕs Purim Baskets
  • Larry Loeb and Linda Silberstein in loving memory of her father Joseph Silberstein
  • Larry Loeb and Linda Silberstein in memory of Sandy Polster
  • Michele Riley in appreciation for the Hebrew SchoolÕs Purim Baskets
  • Robert Gersh and Susan Horowitz in loving memory of his father, Fred Gersh, his aunt, Ellen Leavy, and Sandy Polster
  • Marc and Crissy Swartz in appreciation for the Hebrew SchoolÕs Purim Baskets
  • Dr. Judith Weisman in memory of Sandy Polster
  • Karen and Matthew Filler in loving memory of their parents Gerald Feldman, Morris Filler, and Gladys Filler
  • Donald and Mara Giulianti in loving memory of his mother, Elaine Giulianti
  • Fred and Marilyn Weinberg in memory of Sandor Polster
  • Peggy Brown and John Martel in loving memory of her stepfather, Harold Hershenhart
  • Stephen and Barbara Baseman in loving memory of his father, Isidore Baseman
  • Lynn Frank in loving memory of her sister, Cheryl Milkes Moore and her father, Dan Milkes


  • Sheila and Raymond Lucente in celebration of Passover
  • Darrell and Judy Cooper in appreciation for the Hebrew SchoolÕs Purim Baskets
  • Richard and Becky Ferstenberg in appreciation for the Hebrew SchoolÕs Purim Baskets
  • Deborah Smyth in celebration of Passover
  • Alina Shumsky and David Chatelbash in memory of Sandy Polster
  • Reg and Tinker Hannaford in memory of Sandy Polster
  • Marcia and Leonard Klompus in loving memory of her son, Jeffrey Robert Cherner
  • Diane Gilman in loving memory of her parents Harold and Selma Gilman