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Beth Israel Congregation


Beth Israel Congregation Newsletter

November/December 2015
Heshvan/Kislev/Tevet 5776

President's Message
Shabbat Morning Services
Tot Shabbat
Upcoming Services
Hors D'oeuvres Cooking Class
Community Chanukah Party
Affiliation Committee Report
Building Committee Report
Bowdoin College Lectures
Mid Coast Hunger Prevention
Progressive Sukkot Celebration
The Music Jam
Synagogue Gift Shop
Bowdoin Community Host Program
Refuah Shleimah
Welcome New Members
Hebrew School Notes
Birthdays and Anniversaries
High Holiday Flowers

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

As we finally come to an end of our very busy holiday season, I look back and I am amazed at all the absolutely wonderful and meaningful celebrations we enjoyed together. Cantor Jeff Warschauer and Deborah Strauss brought so much music and joy to each and every program and service. Thanks to all who participated and made the holidays special.

Our Chai committee is again working to come up with interesting services and programs for everybody. Several people asked if I would print my Rosh Hashanah message to remind people of what they can do to support our mission and plan for the future.

I think the important thing is to take time to consider what works best for you and do it. During this past year of strategic planning we heard loud and clear that different people have different needs and wants from our synagogue. Each of us has a different way to connect to our Judaism. We are trying to expand our committees and programs. I decided to come up with a list of the ten top ways you might play a role in our shul and make a difference.

10. Attend a service or program.

9. Consider giving a ride to someone who might not be able to drive to an event. We are going to be creating a list of those in need of transportation and asking for volunteers to help.

8. We are also establishing a better procedure to find people in our community who might need help with meals or doing errands because of health or personal emergencies. Consider adding your name to a list of volunteers who would be willing to cook a meal or do an errand.

7. You could help out at Hebrew School or adopt a Bowdoin student.

6. Volunteer to do an oneg. We have none scheduled so far this year.

5. Come to a service or program … oh did I already mention that … its so easy and yet so important.

4. Consider leading an event or service. We are looking for more people who will lead one Friday night service. Maybe you know someone who would like to speak, teach a cooking class, start up a book club … there are so many possibilities. And you only have to do one.

3. We are desperately in need of fundraising events. You could be in charge of one project … just one.

2. Join the Chai committee. They are the ones who plan all the programs and services. They can use help and good ideas.

1. Become members of our congregation. If you have already joined, please consider making an additional donation. Oh … come to a service or program. You will really make a difference.

There are so many people to thank for all the time and work they have put in to get us where we are today. Thanks to all of you.

Shabbat Morning Services

by Maurie Libner

"Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy." Nearly every Saturday morning from 9:30 to 11:30, a small group meets at Beth Israel to daven (pray), study Torah and kibbitz a bit. Dr. Irwin Brodsky and Maurie Libner have been doing this for years. We enjoy having anyone join us. We use the prayer book (machzor) and the Tanach (red Torah books). We enjoy having newcomers of every persuasion join us, whether or not they are current members of the shul. Lack of fluency in Hebrew is not a major problem. If you have a simple Hebrew background, it will improve rapidly with after a few weeks. If you don't know many of the prayers, you will begin to learn them without much difficulty. Warning: attending Saturday morning Shabbos services can be (healthy, enjoyable and) addictive!

Tot Shabbat

by Theresa Gandler

Saturday, November 7
Saturday, December 5
10:00–11:00 a.m.

Rachel Connelly and Rachel Tefft are generously donating their time to organize a Tot Shabbat program for Beth Israel Congregation. The program will be for children ages 2 to 4 but older siblings are welcome to come and help out. Tot Shabbat will happen monthly, on a Saturday morning, from 10:00–11:00 a.m. and will meet at the Synagogue.

Upcoming Services

by Marilyn Weinberg

Friday, November 13
Friday, December 4
7:00 p.m.

Please join us for our upcoming Shabbat evening services at the Synagogue. On Friday, November 13 Henry Raker is going to lead us in a special Shabbat service. And on Friday, December 4, Rabbi Sruli Dresdner and his wife Lisa Mayer from Temple Shalom in Auburn will be leading us with their joyful music and prayer.

Hors D'oeuvres Cooking Class

by Theresa Gandler

Sunday, November 8
10:00-12:00 p.m.
Cost: $36

Don't miss the opportunity to learn to make the flat breads that were brought to the progressive sukkot celebration! Private chef/kitchen coach, Alexandra Adams, has put together an exciting list of hors d'oeuvres that you can dish up at your next holiday party. Creamiest hummus with fresh herbs, yellow beet and carrot latkes with labne, smoky mushroom and goat cheese piroshki and halvah stuffed dates with pistachio and orange.

Email Theresa Gandler to sign up. Space is limited to 12 people. You will need to bring a knife, cutting board, grater, 2 bowls, and a kitchen towel.

Community Chanukah Party

by Theresa Gandler

Sunday, December 13
5:00 p.m.
Minnie Brown Center

This year the students of the Hebrew School will be preforming in a Chanukah play with direction from Howard Waxman of the Studio Theater of Bath and the support of the Hebrew School teachers and families.

We will start our celebration with a potluck dinner, along with potato latkes. The Chanukah celebration will be on the last day of Chanukah so we will be lighting all the candles together. Bring your menorah and candles: the stage will be glowing bright!

We look forward to seeing you.

Affiliation Committee Report

by Jeff Cohen

To further the goals of the Strategic Plan, we have formed an Affiliation Committee to investigate the possibility of affiliating with one of the established (non-Orthodox) movements of Judaism—Conservative, Reform or Reconstructionist. Committee members are Norma Dreyfus, Karen Filler, Jay Friedland, Stan Lane, Bob Lenox, and myself.

Our committee has met several times since the Annual Meeting in June. Building on the work done by the strategic planning group, we consolidated information regarding the values and beliefs held by the various movements, the benefits that the movements offer their member congregations, and the costs associated with affiliation.

Committee members then reached out to national or regional representatives of each of these three movements, both to verify the earlier information obtained and to invite the movements to send a representative (either a Rabbi and/or a movement official) to Beth Israel in the coming months. The purpose of these visits would be to allow our congregation to learn more about the movements and to begin the process of deciding whether to affiliate.

In the meantime, our committee has also gathered information about Hebrew College in Newton, Mass. Hebrew College is a small rabbinic school that trains and ordains rabbis to lead congregations in the U.S. (and beyond). These rabbis are not ordained in any particular denomination, and most of Hebrew College's graduates have the flexibility to serve either unaffiliated congregations or those affiliated with one of the established movements. We have spoken to the Placement Director of Hebrew College, who has offered his assistance to explore placing one of his graduates at Beth Israel, should we decide to go in that direction.

Our committee recognizes that Beth Israel's ultimate decision on affiliation—whether to affiliate at all, and if so, with which movement-—will involve careful consideration by our members and the Board and will be important in shaping the future of our congregation. Our goal is to provide information and resources to help facilitate this process. If anyone has questions or thoughts about the affiliation process, feel free to contact any of us on the committee.

Building Committee Report

by Marty Fox

The Strategic Plan has a section pertaining to "Facilities Maintenance and Capital Improvements." In this section it states the Congregation should "develop a comprehensive master plan for facilities and determine the scope and pace of improvements..." An excellent Building Committee has been formed with the following members: Fred Weinberg, Chico Swartz, Peggy Brown, Robert Gersh, Todd Gandler, and Marty Fox. The Building Committee decided to hire an architect to develop a Master Plan for the Minnie Brown Center. The Board has approved this process. Three architects were interviewed and one has been hired. The architects have met with the Chai committee, building committee, and by the time this is read, the Hebrew School Community, and the building committee for a second time. Preliminary plans have been submitted, and suggestions are being incorporated. The architects will be submitting schematic diagrams and a model of the proposed design. Once the building committee accepts the plan, it will be submitted to the Congregation's Board for approval. If approved by the Board, the Congregation will vote on the Master Plan.

The Building Committee welcomes everyone's input. If you have any questions, you are welcome to contact Marty Fox, Building Committee Chairperson.

Bowdoin College Lectures

by Rachel Connelly

Friday, November 6
12:30-1:45 p.m.
Lancaster Lounge in the Moulton Union

Rabbi Joy Laddin will be speaking on issues of gender, transgender and Judaism. She is the Gottesman Professor of English at Stern College of Yeshiva University and the author of Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey Between Genders, among other books. She also published five books of poetry.

Wednesday, December 2
7:30 p.m.
Kresge Auditorium in the Visual Arts Center

David Kertzer, the Paul Dupee University Professor of Social Science and Professor of Anthropology and Italian Studies, Brown University will deliver the annual Spindel Lecture in Jewish Studies. His title is "Dealing with the Devil: Mussolini, the Vatican and Italy's Anti-Semitic Racial Laws."

Some in the community may know David as he taught for many years at Bowdoin and continues to have a house in Harpswell.

Mid Coast Hunger Prevention

by Jill Standish

We have sponsored a Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Project every Sunday for the last 8-10 years (I've stopped counting). Three wonderful members have recently resigned, and I would like to publicly congratulate them on their many years of dedicated service. Irwin and Lori Brodsky and Barbara Leeman have pushed the U-boat across the street and helped us manage to keep the food going for people who are hungry.

Please consider joining our small group. We really need new people. More people means fewer Sundays per person. Volunteering only involves giving an hour of your time, once every two months. This is an excellent project to do with children who are old enough to help, as it teaches them the meaning of tzedakah.

Please contact Jill Standish and I will happily add you into our schedule.

Progressive Sukkot Celebration

by Marilyn Weinberg

The sun appeared and the air was crisp as we began our annual progressive Sukkot celebration on Sunday, September 27. Beth Israel members and friends broke bread, sipped soup, blessed the booths and enjoyed each other's company.

We began the festivities at the Gandler sukkah in Brunswick, where we indulged in the most delicious appetizers. Before we knew it, we had to rush to our cars and quickly travel to Maurie Libner and Sharon Bouchard's home where Cantor Jeff joined us and helped with blessings and song. Here we enjoyed three kinds of soup, yummy bread and salad brought by our members. Our final stop was the Hillel house on the Bowdoin campus where we were joined by a lovely group of Bowdoin students and Rabbi Erica Asch. With Rabbi Asch's blessings, Cantor Jeff's music and voices of all, it truly was a joyous time. And of course the desserts everybody brought were sweet as well.

Thank you to the Gandler and Libner-Bouchard families and the Bowdoin students for welcoming us and taking the time to build beautiful and unique sukkahs. And thank you to all of our Beth Israel family who brought delicious food to share, as well as Cantor Jeff and Rabbi Asch for leading prayers, songs, and showing us all how to shake the lulav and etrog. It really has become one of our favorite celebrations.

The Music Jam

by Robert Gersh

On Sunday, September 20, 2015 the Beth Israel Congregation hosted its very first Mid-Coast Jewish Music Jam at the Minnie Brown Center led by visiting Cantor and accomplished Klezmer musician Jeff Warschauer. Between 30 and 40 people of all ages from all over Mid-Coast Maine and from away attended this lively musical event. Besides Cantor Jeff's guitar, people brought a saxophone, a clarinet, a tambourine, a variety of percussion instruments, and of course our voices. Cantor Jeff taught and led the group in a number of Jewish songs. At one point many of the participants got up and danced in a circle around the group. Cantor Jeff also told engaging stories about the songs. A fun time was had by all! We hope that this event will be come a Beth Israel Congregation tradition.

Synagogue Gift Shop

by Crissy Swartz

Wednesday, November 5,12,19
5:00-6:30 p.m.
Minnie Brown

My name is Crissy Swartz and I am receiving the steadfastly held, synagogue store torch from Marina Singer. Over many years, Marina has been your "personal shopper." I hope to fill those shoes and find the perfect gifts for you and our synagogue store. If you need anything special, remember, the synagogue receives all the benefits from your purchases.


At the Minnie Brown Center on November 5, 12, 19 from 5:00-6:30 p.m.
At the Synagogue on November service dates after services

Hanukkah cards - beautiful!
Hanukkah wrapping paper
Hanukkah dreidels - plastic
Hanukkah pre-school games & misc. toys


May I be the first to wish you a Happy Hanukkah! It's never too early to start planning, or SHOPPING!!!

Bowdoin Community Host Program

by Nancy Heiser

The organizers of the Bowdoin Community Host Program recently contacted me. This year they have more students than hosts. In particular, they have four first year Jewish students, who are interested in being part of the program, and they are looking for people with which to match them. I am hoping members of the Beth Israel community will consider being part of this program.

My husband, Jeff Cohen, and I have hosted four students, three of them Jewish, over the years. It has been thoroughly enjoyable experience with little time commitment. Mostly it is being available for a occasional coffee date or home-cooked meal. You do not have to live in Brunswick to take part - community hosts live as far away as Portland. But most first-years don't have cars, so you may have to do a little shuttling in the beginning.

Our experience has been that the students have particularly appreciated dinner at a home during the High Holy Days. We've provided the occasional advice on dentists in the area or trip to Target - that kind of thing. And we've made friends with students from Hong Kong, Atlanta, Minnesota, and the Dominican Republic.

The application for both students and prospective hosts asks for religious preference (it's optional). In that way we have been paired up with Jewish students, and for the duration of their time at the college. The program is very popular, and Bowdoin usually has more students than hosts. Students remain on campus and do not live with their hosts. If you have more questions about the program, feel free to contact the enthusiastic community host coordinators, Dave and Margo Knight, with questions. They would love to hear from you.

Refuah Shleimah

We wish a full and speedy recovery to:

  • Rea Turet
  • Stephen Baseman

Welcome New Members

  • Harry and Kathy Reissman
  • Rosa Ergas and Steve Baer
  • Joanne Rosenthal and Josh Katz

Hebrew School Notes

by Abby Halpern

Religious school is off to a great start this year! We celebrated Rosh Hashanah with a family program on the first day of school, decorated the school sukkah with parents, and danced on Simchat Torah. Every celebration is a learning experience, in addition to a community-building one. The children practice reciting blessings and performing rituals in a joyful context. Check out our picture from the sukkah decorating!

The students presented a play about the holiday, and we all sang songs, said the blessings for dwelling in a sukkah, shook the lulav and etrog, and had a festive snack.

This year, in an effort to strengthen the home-school connection, we will be inviting parents periodically to presentations by their children at the end of religious school. Watch your email for the next date, which will be in November. Our curriculum this year includes project-based learning, in which the grades 3–6 create an authentic project that requires study in order to complete. For their first project, the 3rd and 4th graders created perpetual Jewish calendars that allow them to see what Jewish months correspond (roughly) with which secular months. These calendars are now hanging in the classrooms.

Our 3–6 graders have also been working very hard on their Hebrew studies with Morah Alina Shumsky, not only reading and writing Hebrew words, but also learning the meanings of important prayers such as "Avinu Malkeinu" on the high holidays and "Ki Mitziyon" in the Torah service. Our grade 6 students are excited to share their expertise in reading Hebrew and teaching the younger children.

K–2 graders are beginning their study of the aleph-bet with Morah Susan Horowitz. They also have a creative project every week about an upcoming holiday or the Torah portion. This year's activities included making graham cracker sukkot, planting etrog seeds, and making a rainbow for Noah's ark.

Rosa Ergas, mom to Max and Mirika, who are new to our school, is volunteering her time every week to help the K–2 graders with their Hebrew studies. Thank you Rosa! Thank you as well to all the parents who make it a priority to bring their children to religious school. We know that parents and children have busy schedules and appreciate your efforts.

Mark Your Calendars

Howard Waxman of the Studio Theater of Bath will be working with our students to prepare a Chanukah play that will be performed at the community Chanukah party on Sunday, December 13.

The children will be singing for Chanukah at senior centers again this year on Thursday, December 17. If you know anyone who is able to accompany us on the piano or guitar, please contact the synagogue or you can contact me at

Birthdays and Anniversaries

November Birthdays November Anniversaries
1 Sophie Sreden   2 Cristina & Stacey Giulianti
2 Gordon Blatt      
10 Rachel Clegg      
11 Judy Wolfe      
15 Alva Gandler      
15 Joyce Bellevue      
16 Larry Loeb      
18 Eli Schoenberg      
21 Joan Fields      


December Birthdays December Anniversaries
2 Jennifer Kaplan   15 Joan & Jeremy Fields
2 Bob Lobis      
6 Todd Gandler      
7 Nicholas Hagler      
13 Karen Filler      
22 Sam Leeman      
31 Christine Giulianti      
31 Michele Riley      

High Holiday Flowers

  • Sharon Drake in memory of her grandmother, Leah Pesha Kravitz
  • Maxine Gersh in memory of her husband, Fred Gersh
  • Ben Koenig in memory of Margo Kranz Gottesman
  • Robert and Barbara Lenox in honor of their grandsons, Zachary Bronstein and Jaydon Bronstein and in honor of their daughter, Rebecca Lenox and her fiancé, Joshua Hornik
  • Linda Silberstein and Larry Loeb for the full recovery of Rea Turet
  • Karen and Matt Filler in memory of their parents, Gerald and Frances Feldman and Morris and Gladys Filler.
  • Stephen Baseman in honor of Barbara Baseman
  • Marty Fox and Thyle Shartar


We would like to thank the following people for their donations

  • Jeremy and Joan Fields in loving memory of his mother, Ruth Fields
  • Linda Silberstein and Larry Loeb in support of Beth Israel
  • Joe and Merna Guttentag in support of Beth Israel
  • Michael and Ellen Hagler in support of Beth Israel
  • John and Phyllis Clark in loving memory of her son, Richard Leigh Mensh
  • Paul and Lillian Karass in support of Beth Israel
  • Sheila Lucente in loving memory of her grandparents, A. Joseph and Esther Meuser
  • Shelia Lucente in support of the Hebrew School
  • Lisa Trembly and Lee Leiner in support of Beth Israel
  • Norma Dreyfus and Stan Lane in support of Beth Israel
  • Nancy Heiser and Jeff Cohen in support of Beth Israel
  • Robert T. Waters and Barbara Fiedler for your hospitality at Rosh Hashanah
  • Phyllis and Joesph Lisi in memory of Rose Millstein
  • Judi Rosner in support of Beth Israel
  • Marc and Crissy Swartz in loving memory of his mother, Janet Lee Swartz
  • Maxine Gersh in loving memory of her father, Harold Leavy
  • Sharon Drake in support of the Hebrew School Scholarship Fund
  • Neal Keeshin in loving memory of his grandfather, Jerry Weinberg, who died in the Shoah
  • Dr. and Mrs. Louis Gross in support of Beth Israel
  • Barrett and Barbara Silver in honor of Marilyn and Fred Weinberg for their efforts in making the High Holidays special
  • Diane Cohen in support of Beth Israel
  • Jane Levison in support of Beth Israel
  • Jeff Warschauer and Deborah Strauss in honor of Marilyn and Fred Weinberg and Robert Gersh, Susan Horowitz and family
  • Barnett and Barbara Silver in support of Beth Israel
  • Jenny Levison and Joshua Waletzky in support of Beth Israel
  • Lawrence Hobel and Diana Staring in support of Beth Israel
  • Helene and Elliot Lerner in loving memory of Jeffery Cherner, son of Marcia and Lenny Klompus to support the Hebrew School Scholarship Fund
  • Jerry and Sharon Goldsmith in appreciation of the honor at High Holiday Services and in loving memory of parents, grandparents and Jerry's brother
  • Harry and Kathy-Ann Reissman in support of Beth Israel
  • Shelia Lucente in support of the Hebrew School Scholarship Fund