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Beth Israel Congregation


Beth Israel Congregation Newsletter

January/February 2016
Tevet/Shevat/Adar I 5776

President's Message
Upcoming Services and Programs at Beth Israel
Come to the Beth Israel Tu B'Shvat Community Seder
Tot Shabbat Rocks
School Shabbat Service
Hebrew School Update
Building Committee Report
Thanksgiving Music Jam
Synagogue Gift Shop
Calling all Veterans
The Chanukah Party
Birthdays and Anniversaries
Welcome 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

President's Message

by Marilyn Weinberg

As we head into the season of cold weather and snow we can only delight in the warmth and good cheer at Beth Israel. We welcomed some amazing people during November and December. Rabbi Erica Asch enlightened us with a sample Reform service and a very interesting talk. Cantor Jeff Warschauer and his wife Deborah Strauss and Rabbi Sruli Dresdner and his wife Lisa Mayer shared a sense of joy with their wonderful and moving musical programs.

In addition Henry Raker led a lovely Friday night Shabbat service and our Hebrew School students entertained us with a play and music at our joyous Chanukah party. On Saturday mornings Rachel Connelly has started a great Tot Shabbat program and Maurie Libner and Irwin Brodsky continue our Saturday morning Torah discussions. What a wonderful community we have.

Meanwhile our board has been busy meeting with the affiliation and building committees who have put in a good deal of time exploring options for us. Our building committee has been working with an architect to explore long-term options for work on the Minnie Brown Center, which has some challenges in its present design. The board has done additional research into affiliation options, discussing the pros and cons of potential affiliation. Within the next two months we hope to hold a community-wide meeting to share our information and prepare a recommendation to move forward in search of a spiritual leader for Beth Israel Congregation.

Our January/February calendar is filling up with a variety of programs and services. Thanks to all of you who have volunteered to lead a service, supply an oneg or food for a potluck, and attend so many events. The energy and enthusiasm at Beth Israel is inspiring and hopeful for the future of our little congregation.

Upcoming Services and Programs at Beth Israel

by Marilyn Weinberg

In addition to the services and programs listed below, we are still working on dates for a community-wide meeting to discuss possibilities of affiliation and a Rabbi search process and a possible brunch with a very interesting speaker. Stay tuned.

Maurie Libner and Irwin Brodsky lead a regular Torah discussion group every Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. at the Synagogue.

Shabbat Evening Service
7:00 p.m. at the Synagogue

  • Friday, January 8 - led by Marina Singer
  • Friday, January 22 - led by Rachel Connelly
  • Friday, February 5 - led by Hebrew School students
  • Friday, February 26 - led by Maurie Libner

Tot Shabbat
10:00 a.m. at the Minnie Brown Center

  • Saturday, January 9 - led by Rachel Connelly
  • Saturday, January 30 - led by Rachel Connelly

Community Tu B'Shevat Seder
4:30 p.m. at the Minnie Brown Center

  • Sunday, January 24

Come to the Beth Israel Tu B'Shvat Community Seder

by Marilyn Weinberg

Minnie Brown Center
January 24, 2016
4:30 p.m.

Let us join together for a Tu B'Shvat Seder followed by a potluck dinner (no meat, but fish is OK).

Celebrate the New Year of the Trees. Sing songs and learn more about this Jewish environmental holiday! It's fun for all ages.

We are supposed to eat fruits and grains grown in Israel. If you can bring something containing barley, dates, figs, grapes (or raisins), pomegranates, olives or wheat that would be great. Almonds and carob are also good options.

Contact Marilyn Weinberg: by January 16 to reserve your space. There will be a fee of $5 per person or $10 per family to cover our costs.

Tot Shabbat Rocks

by Theresa Gandler

We have now had three Tot Shabbat sessions, once a month in October, November, and December. At each one the preschoolers really enjoyed themselves playing together, singing, having a story, doing a craft project and learning a bit about Shabbat and Chanukah. If you have a child between the ages of 2 and 5, please join us at 10:00 a.m. at the Minnie Brown Center. We are aiming for the first Saturday of each month, though you will see from the list below we are liberal in our interpretation of that rule.

Dates for Winter/Spring 2016
    January 9
    January 30
    March 5
    April 2
    May 7

For information contact Rachel Connelly.

School Shabbat Service

by Theresa Gandler

Friday, February 5
7:00 p.m.

The students of Beth Israel Hebrew School will be leading the Friday night Shabbat Service on February 5 at 7:00 p.m. This is a special service that showcases the talent and hard work of our Hebrew School students. It will take the place of the regular Friday night service. Please mark your calendar and come out to see these amazing kids and teachers.

Hebrew School Update

by Abby Halpern

The Hebrew School students in all grades have been learning about the weekly Torah portion, or in Hebrew, parasha. In K4, they read Sedra Scenes, plays that summarize each week's portion in a humorous way, and watched videos from the website G-dcast. The sixth graders read the original text and wrote their own "Torah commentaries" based on questions they had about the text. In grades K2, the students are continuing to learn the aleph-bet and have been doing a project each week that relates to the Torah portion, from Noah's ark to Abraham's tent.

Many of you saw the students' great performance at the Chanukah party, directed by Howard Waxman. The kids also had another Chanukah performance that week: They sang Chanukah songs to the residents of the Highlands. Thank you to parent Jesse Feinberg for accompanying us on piano. Thank you also to parent Rosa Ergas for continuing to volunteer each week.

Building Committee Report

by Marty Fox

Minnie Brown Master Plan

As approved by the Board, the Building Committee is moving forward with a Minnie Brown Master Plan. The architects have come up with plans including:

  • Upper level - handicap bathroom, updated entrances and lobby, meeting/study with view of the park, improvements to the social hall, an ADA lift between floors, etc.
  • Lower level - Hebrew School improvements, larger classrooms, children's library, art storage and sinks, spiritual leader office, updated kitchen, etc.

Posters of the plans are located in the lobby of Minnie Brown and will be moved to the Synagogue after January 1. Cost estimating for the project is being done in phases. A special Board meeting is scheduled for February 23 for a presentation. Members are welcome to attend. If the Board approves the plans, the entire congregation will have the opportunity to vote on the plan. There will be naming opportunities if the plan is approved. If anyone would like a copy of the plans, you are welcome to email Marty Fox.

Thanksgiving Music Jam

by Marina Singer

Twenty-five klezmer loving, hand clapping, foot stomping, dancing participants enjoyed another fun-filled Sunday afternoon, November 29, with Deborah Strauss and Jeff Warschauer. Many brought their own instruments, and everyone brought their voices and enthusiasm to spend the afternoon learning new klezmer tunes and Israeli dance moves. Chanukah songs had a new sound and we even got to square dance to klezmer music with George Krassner doing the "calling." Everyone left with smiles and high hopes that Deborah and Jeff will be back for another music jam soon.

Synagogue Gift Shop

by Crissy Swartz

The Temple Gift Shop was open for business during Hebrew School for the month of November, and every morning the first week of December. We had happy shoppers, and not surprisingly, the Bazooka Bubble Gum was a big HIT with the kids!

Please plan on doing your Temple/Jewish Gift shopping with us this year. It benefits our synagogue. Anyone may call to order special gifts during the year.

I would love to be your Personal Shopper!

Calling all Veterans

by Robert Gersh

The Beth Israel Congregation has a plaque in the lobby of our Synagogue with the title, "Roll of Honor", which honors members of the Congregation that have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

If you are a member of our Congregation who served in our Armed Forces, who does not already have their name on the plaque, but would like their name to be added, please send an email to Robert Gersh by February 1, 2016 with the following information.

  • Full Name (as you would like to see it on the plaque)
  • Branch of the Armed Forces in which you served (U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, or U.S. Coast Guard)
  • Period of Service (Month Year Month Year)

After February 1, 2016 Robert will compile the list of the additional member names that have been requested to be added to the plaque and will work with the Treasurer and Building Committee to order and affix those additional names. At the Beth Israel Congregation we sincerely appreciate the military service of its members and this Synagogue plaque is one way that we would like to show that appreciation.

The Chanukah Party

by Lynn Frank

The smell of latkes filled the air! Little children everywhere! It was such a delight to see the room filled with joy, laughter, and delicious food. From traditional menorahs to unique and handmade menorahs, lights were twinkling as the children recited the prayers. And, if that was not enough, we were treated to a special play, the story of Chanukah and several songs presented by this talented group. It filled my heart with simchah to see Minnie Brown come to life.

Thanks to Howard Waxman who wrote the play and volunteered his time rehearsing with the Hebrew School students. And special thanks to Susan Horowitz and Donnie Spiegelman, who cooked hundreds of yummy latkes for us. It wouldn't be Chanukah without them.

For a special mitzvah, Hebrew School teacher Alina Shumsky and the children collected food and donations totaling $135 for the Bath Area Food Bank.

Birthdays and Anniversaries

by Lynn Frank

Listing the birthdays and anniversaries of those in our immediate family creates a wonderful opportunity for our community/shul family to have an excuse to celebrate with each other. We have listed the few that we have. If you notice that someone in your family is not listed, please send along all information to Lynn Frank so that they can be included with the next issue of the newsletter.

January Birthdays January Anniversaries
2 Liza Greenwald   21 Diane Gilman & Arthur Davis
6 Jonah Kaplan   21 Gary Torow & Denise Linet
7 Julia Pols   22 Ellen & Michael Hagler
9 Mark Ireland   24 George & Judith Krassner
12 Wayne Gould   27 Michele & Ed Riley
14 Harry Reissmann   29 Harry & Kathy Reissmann
15 Isaac Daniel Ensel      
17 Stacey Giulianti      
20 Eric Arthur Ensel      
22 George Krassner      
24 Ellen Hagler      
25 Robert Gersh      
26 Marc Swartz      


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

Welcome New Members

  • George Krassner


  • Nonny Soifer in loving memory of her father, Samuel Soifer
  • Rosalind Rowan in loving memory of her father, Philip Rowe
  • Morton and Evelyn Panish in loving memory of his father, Isidore Panish
  • Steve and Marina Singer in loving memory of his father, Isadore Singer
  • Joan and Jeremy Fields in loving memory of her mother, Selma Shapiro Blatt
  • Michele Riley in loving memory of her father, Abraham Travers
  • Jay and Lenore Friedland in loving memory of his mother, Nettie Friedland
  • Jay and Lenore Friedland in loving memory of her mother, Esther Itzkowitz
  • Elen Feinberg in honor of High Holiday Services