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Beth Israel Congregation


Beth Israel Congregation Newsletter

January/February 2015
Tevet/Shevat/Adar 5775

President's Message
Suggested Reading List for Strategic Planning Topics
Thank You Ed Benedikt
Sunshine Committee
Jewish Film Festival
Hanukkah Celebrations
Birthday 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

President's Message

by Marilyn Weinberg

We had a wonderful turnout for our second community-wide Strategic Planning gathering on December 7. Rabbi Liza Stern, spiritual leader of Congregation Eitz Chayim in Cambridge, Mass., spoke to us about the importance of our work and, with a fascinating Torah study, gave it a spiritual and historical meaning.

We had an opportunity to contribute to a "Modeh Ani" (thankfulness) jar with what we value and hope our congregation to be. There were probably as many different thoughts as there were people in attendance, but they were all lovely and inspiring. Some of the ideas for our congregation included: a place that can be is nourishing, joyful, fun, light and laughter, youth and energy, inspiring and stimulating, challenging members to be better people, reflection and value building, a center to learn, a place where people take care of each other and a place of welcoming.

Our Strategic Planning Team has been meeting and doing research in the topics identified in our first gathering. In early January we will begin constructing a survey that we will send out to each one of you to complete. In addition there will be some focus groups that you might be invited to attend.

So look out for the survey. For many of you it will arrive by email. If you would prefer a printed and mailed copy, let me know. Please complete it and add as many comments as you would like. These surveys will form the basis of our plan so they are very important.

As we continue with this essential work I give thanks to all of you who have taken the time to attend and participate in our meetings. And I give an extra thank you to the members of the Strategic Planning team who have been putting in many additional hours in meetings and research to make Beth Israel Congregation a synagogue that will grow and thrive for many years to come.

Suggested Reading List for Strategic Planning Topics

by Rachel Connelly

Below is a list of books recommended by Rabbi Liza Stern that are helpful in understanding the changes many synagogues and temples are facing in the 21st century. If you know of a book or article that you think might be useful to our group, please feel free to send along its title and source.

  • Synagogues in a Time of Change by Zachary Heller (editor)
  • Re-envisioning the Synagogue by Zachary Heller (editor)
  • Spirituality of Welcoming by Ron Wolfson
  • Relational Judaism by Ron Wolfson
  • Finding a Spiritual Home by Sidney Schwarz
  • The Self-Renewing Congregation by Isa Aron
  • Rethinking Synagogues by Lawrence Hoffman.
  • Tomorrow's Synagogue Today by Hayim Herring
  • Sacred Strategies by Isa Aron, Steven Cohen, Lawrence Hoffman, Ari Kelman

Thank You Ed Benedikt

by Andy Hagler

Due to health reasons Ed Benedikt has decided to step down as treasurer of Beth Israel Congregation. It was with extreme generosity and commitment that Ed agreed, when asked, to take on a job in which personal integrity is of the utmost importance. The challenge that Ed undertook in performing this Mitzvah on behalf of the synagogue cannot be understated, as it required that he learn an entirely new computer and bookkeeping system. For his hours and hours of dedicated work in furtherance of an institution that we all value so dearly, we are deeply grateful.

Andy Hagler has agreed to take over the duties of treasurer on an interim basis.

All checks can still be mailed to:
Beth Israel Congregation
906 Washington St.
Bath, ME 04530

Sunshine Committee

by Lenore Friedland

If you or someone you know is in need of some help due to illness or surgery, etc, we now have a committee in place willing to lend a hand. We can offer a ride, a meal or other support if needed. Please email Lenore Friedland. If you would like to add your name to our committee to be called on occasionally to offer assistance, please let Lenore know. Together we can make a difference to someone in need.

Jewish Film Festival

by Marilyn Weinberg

Through the generosity of the Benedikt trust, Beth Israel will be a sponsor for the 2015 Maine Jewish Film Festival that will be held March 14-25.

Although at this time it is too early to have a detailed listing of the films that will be shown, we know in the past they have all been interesting, thoughtful and creative. There are always several shown right in Brunswick at the Frontier.

Ruth and Ed have asked that our community share this sponsorship. In that vein we are offering a raffle. For every $36 donation to the synagogue designated for the sponsorship of the festival, your name will be entered in a raffle for free tickets. Our synagogue will be receiving 6 free tickets to attend a film of your choice so we will have 6 winners.

I will be sending out more details in an email when we have the listing of films, but you can mail in your donation any time and be entered in the raffle.

Hanukkah Celebrations

by Lynn Frank

On the 3rd night of Hanukah, we had a festive celebration at the Minnie Brown Center. The room was lit up by many menorahs of all different shapes and sizes, as we all recited the prayers. We enjoyed delicious latkes, a table full of sweets and joyous Klezmer music provided by Rabbi Sruli Dresdner and his wife Lisa, from Temple Shalom in Auburn. Rabbi Sruli and Lisa are international Jewish performers who graciously shared their time with us. They created happy, spiritual energy including music, jokes and dancing for the Jewish community to enjoy.

Special thanks to Teresa Gandler and Donnie Boyd and her daughters Quin and Morgan who made enough latkes for all of us. Somehow we managed to eat them all.

Our Hebrew School students celebrated with singing at the Highlands.


by Thyle Sharter and Lisa Tessler

Tu B'shvat is a Jewish holiday that falls on the 15th day of Shevat. This year it falls on February 4. In Israel it is a time to celebrate the planting of trees. It is considered a time for environmental awareness programs. We often celebrate with a seder, including fruits and nuts. Below is a delicious recipe in which you can add your choice of fruits and nuts.

Granola Ingredients:
  • 5-6 cups oats
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced almonds
  • 2 teaspoons coriander
  • 3/4 to 1 cup maple syrup
In a bowl mix the above ingredients Place ingredients onto a flat pan Put pan into a 350F preheated oven Bake 20 minutes Stir Bake 10 more minutes If done, place on a rack to cool. And for any Jewish occasion, where would we be without chopped liver! Cousin Dolores Tessler's Infamous Mock Chopped Liver Recipe Ingredients:
  • 16 oz. sweet peas (1 can)
  • 2 large onions - chopped
  • 1 chicken (or vegetable) bouillon cube
  • 2 tablespoons of canola oil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons of butter
  • 2 tablespoons dry bread crumbs
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • Salt to taste
Boil peas for 3 minutes and drain. Saute onions in oil with bouillon cube until soft. Combine walnuts, Add peas, eggs, and all other ingredients in a food processor. Add onions last while still warm and process for another 10 seconds. Best if refrigerated for at least 24 hours. Serve at room temperature. Exquisite with fresh challah.

Birthdays and Anniversaries

January Birthdays January Anniversaries
2 Liza Greenwald   21 Diane Gilman & Arthur Davis
2 Daniel Leeman   21 Denise Linet & Gary Torow
6 Barbara Leeman   22 Ellen & Michael Hagler
7 Julia Pols   27 Michele & Ed Riley
9 Mark Ireland      
12 Wayne Gould      
15 Isaac Daniel Ensel      
17 Stacey Giulianti      
20 Eric Arthur Ensel      
24 Ellen Hagler      
25 Robert Gersh      
26 Marc Swartz      
27 Gabriel Maseptic      


February Birthdays February Anniversaries
13 Glenn Eisman   7 Crissy & Marc Swartz
17 Julian Ireland      
19 Mitchell Manin      
21 Sharon Bouchard      
27 Avi Gersh      
28 Christina Schoenberg      


We would like to thank the following people for their donations:

Members and Friends

  • Michele Riley in loving memory of her father, Abraham Travers
  • Jay and Lenore Friedland in loving memory of their parents, Nettie Friedland and Esther Itzkowitz
  • Sheila Lucente in support of the Hebrew School and the needs of the synagogue
  • Arlene Hertz for the general fund
  • Joan and Jeremy Fields in loving memory of her mother, Selma Blatt
  • Jeff Cohen and Nancy Heiser in support of Strategic Planning
  • George and Margaret Isaacson support of Strategic Planning
  • Liza and Aaron Greenwald in support of Strategic Planning
  • Andy and Deb Hagler in support of Strategic Planning
  • Denise and Sheldon Tepler in support of Strategic Planning
  • Lynn Frank in loving memory of her cousin, Esther Friedman
  • Janice Povich in loving memory of her mother, Lillian Goldstein
  • Ed and Ruth Benedikt in support of the Maine Jewish Film Festival
  • Deborah and Kermit Smyth in support of the Maine Jewish Film Festival
  • Jay and Lenore Friedland in support of the Maine Jewish Film Festival
  • Marilyn and Fred Weinberg for the general fund
  • Donna and Peter Rubin in loving memory of her parents, Mary and Morris Petlock
  • Barbara and Robert Lenox in gratitude to the Sunshine Committee
  • Maxine Gersh in loving memory of her mother, Myrtle Leavy
  • Gary Torow in loving memory of his father, Morris Torow
  • Rosalind Gorin and Dr. Matthew Budd for the general fund
  • Linda Silberstein and Larry Loeb for the general fund