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Beth Israel Congregation





Beth Israel Congregation Newsletter

March/April 2014
Adar I/Adar II/Nisan 5774


Cantor's Message
Purim Carnival
Community Passover Seder
News from the Hebrew School
Maine Jewish Film Festival
Chai Minded Makes Generous Gift to the Congregation
Birthdays and Anniversaries
Welcome to New Members
Donations

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 info@bethisrael-maine.org.


Cantor's Message

by Cantor Daniel Leeman

One of the most climactic moments in the Bible is when Esther risked her life to save our people. She understood that when she sought an audience with the king to challenge Haman's decree, she was breaking all the royal rules. If the king rejected her appearance in his presence without permission, she could have been executed.

When she entered the beauty contest, she loyally followed Mordecai's advice and hid her Jewish identity throughout the selection process and for most of her reign as queen. She gained power through this deception, but events unfolded that forced her to make a choice: continue to hide and survive, or reveal her Jewish identity and possibly die as one of the victims of Haman's evil decree.

Surprisingly, before Esther makes her plea to the king, she asks for the support of her community in a curious, symbolic gesture. She asked that the Jewish people of Shushan fast with her as a show of solidarity. She requested a physical expression of Jewish loyalty through fasting. This expression of spiritual support from the Jewish community is what she seemed to need as a leader to fuel her strength to act.

In a Torah podcast posted about Purim by a wonderful scholar, Rabbi Yitzchak Etshalom of Los Angeles, he explained that Esther brought about the miracle of Purim through a personal transformation. Rather than dutifully following the lead of Mordecai, Rabbi Etshalom described her rise to leadership as a "turning of the tables." Esther was now asking for Mordecai's loyalty and that of her people! Despite her fear, she was prepared to do what was now required of her. But to gain the courage to lead, Esther now asked for the support of her community.

Rabbi Etshalom further wrote about the miracle of Purim at Torah.org. In it, he wrote that the Hebrew word for miracle is Nes. Another translation for the word Nes is banner. He beautifully explained that the two definitions are linked. When one shows character traits of wisdom, courage, and loyalty, and does good deeds as Esther did, one can make miracles by raising the banner of G-d in the world.

One of the midrashic interpretations of why G-d's name is not mentioned in the Megillah of Esther is that the miracle of Purim did not come in the ordinary way where G-d suspends the laws of physics and nature by intervening in the world to make changes for humanity. Rather the reason G-d's name is absent from the Megillah is that Esther's courage, wisdom and loyalty was enough to cause a miracle to come to all humanity through her own mortal actions and good deeds. This is the great message of Tikkun Olam-when we repair our broken world, we partner with G-d and make miracles.

There are also a number of other lessons that we can learn from Esther's heroic moment. One is that there are critical, perilous times when we must act decisively with courage, conviction and dispatch. Another is that sometimes circumstances thrust leadership upon us, and we have no alternative but to act to help others around us. Lastly, all leaders need the physical, spiritual and even symbolic support of the community around them to succeed. Such demonstrations of support, even symbolic ones, are expressions of trust and loyalty. Such actions can inspire leaders to overcome all obstacles to succeed and change the world for the better.

As we celebrate Purim this year, let's all remember to fast on Thursday, March 13, in honor of Esther's wisdom and courage as a leader. Let's all fulfill the mitzvah, incumbent upon both men and women, to hear the Megillah on Sunday, March 16 at 10:00 a.m. at the synagogue. Let's celebrate by giving charity to the poor, and by offering gifts of foods to our friends and neighbors. Let's do all this together in gratitude for the beautiful holiday of Purim.


Purim Celebration

Please join us on Sunday, March 16 for our community Purim carnival.

Come in costume.

10:00-11:00 a.m. - Megillah reading at the Synagogue
11:00 a.m. - Parade of costumes to the carnival
11:15 a.m.-1:00 p.m. - Purim carnival at the Minnie Brown Center

Don't forget to come dressed in costume!

Loads of games, lots of new prizes, hamantaschen, pizza, drinks and fun for kids of all ages.

Questions? Contact Susan Horowitz.


Community Passover Seder

by Marilyn Weinberg

Tuesday, April 15
5:00 p.m.
Minnie Brown Center

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

Reservations required by April 10. Please e-mail mailto:info@bethisrael-maine.org

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


News from the Hebrew School

by Barbara Leeman

Through the months of January and February, each of the classes prepared for the school-led Shabbat service, which was held on February 28, 2014. These services are always nice to attend even if you don't have students in the school. During March and April our students will continue to study the regular Hebrew school curriculum and learn about Purim and Passover.

We accept new students throughout the year. If you find that your son or daughter is ready for Hebrew school, and would like additional information, please contact us at education@bethisrael-maine.org.


Maine Jewish Film Festival

"The Maine Jewish Film Festival is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide for the presentation of films to enrich, educate, and entertain a diverse community about the Jewish experience. Portland is the smallest city in the nation to boast an independent, professional Jewish film festival.

MJFF has grown to be one of the best-attended, most well-respected, and highly-anticipated cultural events in the State.

This year the festival is March 22-29, 2014 at the Nick, PMA, and Salt for our 17th annual Festival!"

Check outnthe web site for this year's films and schedule: www.mjff.org


Chai Minded Makes Generous Gift to the Congregation

by Robert Gersh

On January 28, 2014 the Beth Israel Congregation received a very generous gift in in the mail from an anonymous benefactor. The accompanying letter from Schwab Charitable Fund instructs us to use the grant for wherever it is needed most. The Congregation Board will discuss what to do with this unexpected gift. The Schwab Charitable Fund letter also directs us to log onto chaiminded.org for an explanation of this gift. If you log on to the website you'll find the following mission of Chai Minded, Tzedakah for Synagogues:

"The mission of Chai Minded is quite simple: making anonymous contributions to synagogues across the United States. Gifts are a multiple of Chai. The current amount is $10,188. The number of synagogues receiving gifts is now up to 72. Each synagogue receives a single gift and has total discretion over how to use the funds.

I have attended services at numerous synagogues, temples and shuls. In my experience each synagogue is unique, but they all provide a spiritual haven and comforting community for members and guests. I want to help as many of these communities as possible."

Robert Gersh, the Congregation's Treasurer, left a thank you comment at the bottom of this web page on behalf of the Beth Israel Congregation. "Chai Minded" responded: It is a pleasure, Mr. Gersh, to send a gift to your synagogue. I have been to Maine many times, and once drove a long way to say a weekly Kaddish, but have never been to Bath. The interior and exterior photos of your building are such a wonderful combination of New England and Jewish history. I hope you don't mind that I borrowed the photos for my Chai Minded avatar.

The anonymous individual behind the Chai Minded organization further explains his/her reasons on the webpage: chaiminded.org/tzedakah. The website (chaiminded.org/synagogue-recipients) provides a list of each of the 72 recipients and a link to the recipients' website. Our Synagogue photos on our website were specifically complimented by our benefactor. Thanks to Marilyn and Fred Weinberg for our great-looking Congregation website!


Birthdays and Anniversaries

March Birthdays March Anniversaries
3 Donny Giulianti 15 Jennie & Campbell Clegg
4 Robert Lenox 25 Doris and Leslie Shaw
5 Gary Torow
6 Crissy Swartz
8 Teresa Gandler
9 Andrew Schoenberg
10 Monica Blatt
11 Nicholas Giulianti
12 Ethan Blatt
12 Tobyn Blatt
13 Jennie Clegg
17 Dana Malseptic
20 Maurie Libner
27 Noa Sreden
28 Campbell Clegg

April Birthdays April Anniversaries
2 Lisa Tessler 7 Crissy and Chico Swartz
5 Nadia Leiner
7 Sumner Blatt
8 Mort Panish
9 Susan Horowitz
18 Barbara Baseman
18 Leslie Shaw

Welcome to New Members

  • Jon and Lorna Lichter of Brunswick, Maine

Donations

Members

  • Barbara and Robert Lenox in loving memory of his father, Fred Lenox
  • Betsy Atkins in loving memory of her father, Jacob Fishkind
  • Judy Weisman in loving memory of her father, Irving Weisman
  • Barbara and Robert Lenox in loving memory of her mother, Freda Selig
  • Marilyn and John Darack in loving memory of her parents, Ruth and Sterling Shapiro
  • Dr. Matthew Budd and Rosalind Gorin
  • Dr. Aaron and Liza Greenwald
  • George and Margaret Isaacson
  • Gary Torow in loving memory of his mother, Ann Torow
  • Joan and Jeremy Fields in loving memory of his father, David Fields
  • Mort and Evelyn Panish in loving memory of his stepfather, Alex Mutterperl and her mother, Else Chaim
  • Lynn Frank in loving memory of her father, Dean Milkes
  • Fred and Marilyn Weinberg in loving memory of her mother, Ann Verner Isacoff
  • Fred and Marilyn Weinberg in loving memory of his parents, Marvin and Frances Weinberg
  • Jay and Lenore Friedland in memory of Marilyn Weinberg's mother, Ann Verner Isacoff
  • Rosalind Gorin and Matthew Budd in memory of Marilyn Weinberg's mother, Ann Verner Isacoff
  • Barbara and Stephen Baseman in memory of Marilyn Weinberg's mother, Ann Verner Isacoff
  • Barrett and Barbara Silver in loving memory of his mother, Rose Hurwitz Silver
  • Joan and Jeremy Fields in memory of Marilyn Weinberg's mother, Ann Verner Isacoff
  • George and Margaret Isaacson in memory of Marilyn Weinberg's mother, Ann Verner Isacoff
  • Barbara and Bob Lenox in memory of Marilyn Weinberg's mother, Ann Verner Isacoff
  • Barbara and Bob Lenox in loving memory of her brother, Edward L. Selig
  • Barbara and Bob Lenox in loving memory of her father, Mishael Selig
  • Peggy Brown and John Martel in loving memory of her grandmother, Sonia Wernick

Friends

  • Richard A. Cohen and Elizabeth Gouverneur
  • Carolyn MacLeod
  • Alina Shumsky and David Chattlebash in memory of Marilyn Weinberg's mother, Ann Verner Isacoff
  • Bill Clark and Catherin Cyrus in memory of Marilyn Weinberg's mother, Ann Verner Isacoff
  • Chris and Larry Reese in memory of Marilyn Weinberg's mother, Ann Verner Isacoff
  • Sheila Lucente in thanksgiving for Tu B'Shevat
  • Joe and Merna Guttentag in memory of Marilyn Weinberg's mother, Ann Verner Isacoff
  • Phyllis and Ted Wolfe in memory of Marilyn Weinberg's mother, Ann Verner Isacoff
  • David and Maryli Tiemann in memory of Marilyn Weinberg's mother, Ann Verner Isacoff
  • Estee and Andy Summers in memory of Marilyn Weinberg's mother, Ann Verner Isacoff
  • The Unitarian Universalist Church of Brunswick in memory of Marylin Weinberg's mother, Ann Verner Isacoff
  • Angelo and Rosalind Rossi in loving memory of her father, Philip Rowen