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Beth Israel Congregation


Beth Israel Congregation Newsletter

November/December 2016
Tishri/Heshvan/Kislev/Tevet 5777

President's Message
Upcoming Services and Programs at Beth Israel
Ladies' Dine Around
Veterans' Service
Tot Shabbat Upcoming Schedule
Bowdoin College Spindel Lecture
Community Hanukkah Party
Reform Affiliation Service
Progressive Sukkot Celebration
The Music Jam
Simchat Torah Service
Beth Israel Hebrew School Celebrates the Tishrei Holidays
Mid Coast Hunger Prevention
Birthdays and Anniversaries
Welcome New Members
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

The fall holiday season is now over, but I am thankful for the lovely memories that all of these celebrations leave with us. 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. All of your contributions make a difference.

Our Rabbi Search Committee has completed and submitted our in-depth forms describing our congregation and our needs to the Rabbi Placement Office of the Reform movement. We will keep you regularly updated on our progress throughout the year.

Our Chai committee is again working to come up with interesting services and programs for everybody. Several years ago we began a series called "Sharing Our Roots." We had many members who shared stories of their family's background including immigration stories and their early years in the US. Although some of our stories sound similar on the surface, each one is unique and fascinating. We would love to hear about it.

In addition might you have a different topic or interest to share with us? Whether it is during a brunch or a Friday night service, we would love to hear from you. Past topics have included talks on the refugee crisis, the early space program and global warming. The potential themes are endless. We have also had cooking classes including "healthy meals options." Please consider how you might be able to participate and add to the life of Beth Israel.

Part of what we learn every year during the holiday season is how wonderful it is to be together. Let's hope for a year filled with joy and fulfillment as we celebrate and gather together during the year.

Upcoming Services and Programs at Beth Israel

by Marilyn Weinberg


Saturday, November 5 at 10:00 a.m.
Tot Shabbat
led by Rachel Connelly
Minnie Brown Center

Wednesday, November 9 at 6:00 p.m.
Ladies' Dine Around
Little Tokyo, Brunswick

Friday, November 11 at 7:00 p.m.
Special Shabbat Evening Service
Honoring our Veterans


Friday, December 2 at 7:00 p.m.
Shabbat Evening Service

Saturday, December 3 at 10:00 a.m.
Tot Shabbat
led by Rachel Connelly
Minnie Brown Center

Friday, December 16 at 7:00 p.m.
Shabbat Evening Service

Saturday, December 17 at 10:00 a.m.
Tot Shabbat
Special Hanukkah Program
led by Rachel Connelly
Minnie Brown Center

Saturday, December 31 at 3:00 p.m.
Community Hanukkah Party
Potato Latkes and Salad
with Rabbi Sruli Dresder & Lisa Mayer
Minnie Brown Center

Ladies' Dine Around

by Crissy Swartz

All are welcome to join in.

Date: Wednesday, November 9
Place: Little Tokyo - 72 Maine Street, Brunswick - (207) 798-6888
Time: 6:00 p.m.

Please RSVP by Monday, November 7
(final head count needs to be phoned in)

Veterans' Service

by Marilyn Weinberg

Friday, November 11
7:00 p.m.

Calling all Veterans. We were looking at the calendar and realized that November 11, Veteran's Day, falls on a Friday this year. Through the efforts of Robert Gersh, we had the opportunity to update the Roll of Honor plaque hanging in our lobby that is "Dedicated to those who entered the armed forces of our country." The plaque was originally created after World War II when so many of our members served in all levels of the military.

We now have added several members' names to this plaque. We want to honor both those members from the past, as well as those most recently added.

We hope you can come to this special service. We don't often have the opportunity to thank the people who served our country. If you know a member who might not be on the list, but has served in the military, please let us know and invite them to attend the service.

Tot Shabbat Upcoming Schedule

by Rachel Connelly

We continue to offer a once-a-month Tot Shabbat program. No sign up needed. No commitment needed. The program is designed for children 2 to 4, siblings welcome. We sing a little, read a picture book or two, make a craft, play some games and share a snack together. Program dates for the next two months are below. The program runs from10:00-10:45 a.m. at the Minnie Brown Center.

  • November 5
  • December 3
  • December 17 (extra Hanukkah program for the whole family)

Bowdoin College Spindel Lecture

by Marilyn Weinberg

Tuesday, November 15
7:30 p.m.
Kresge Auditorium in the Visual Arts Center

The annual Spindel Lecture on Jewish Studies at Bowdoin College is November 15 at 7:30 p.m. at Kresge Auditorium in the Visual Arts Center. The speaker will be Adi Nes and the title of the lecture is "Issues of Identity." Adi Nes, is a prominent Israeli artist whose photographs explore issues of Israeli identity and masculinity.

Community Hanukkah Party

by Marilyn Weinberg

Saturday December 31
3:00 p.m.
Minnie Brown Center

We are so excited that Rabbi Sruli Dresdner and his wife Lisa Mayer will be joining us for our community Hanukkah party. They are renowned Klezmer musicians and will bring music and dance to our joyous celebration.

We will start the festivities with delicious potato latkes made by Susan Horowitz and her frying team. You can bring a salad to go along. The celebration will be on the last day of Hanukkah 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.

Reform Affiliation Service

by Marilyn Weinberg

On September 30 we gathered together to celebrate our affiliation with the Reform movement. The service was lovely with so many participating. Cantor Jeff Warschauer led the service with his joyous tunes. I had the opportunity to speak of our history, sharing some of our founder's stories. Rabbi Simeon Maslin gave a fascinating Torah talk and Rabbi Erica Asch shared some of her connections to the Reform movement as well as creating a lovely blessing for us. And finally we received our plaque from Dr, Jeremy Wolfe, who had some great anecdotes to share. We all gathered downstairs to celebrate with wine and delicious snacks.

I think the founders would be pleased with the Beth Israel's decision to affiliate. Although on the surface, it looks like a big change, our little shul is still welcoming to all, yet still maintains that feeling of family that it always had. Our forbearers wanted to be part of the secular world, but still connect to the religion of their ancestors. Reform Judaism allows us to look forward to the future while still maintaining ties to our heritage. If you have some time you should check out the website for the Union for Reform Judaism

We celebrate our decision and begin our future together as members of the URJ with hope and enthusiasm that we will be here for all for another 100 years.

Prayer for Beth Israel Upon Becoming a Reform Synagogue
by Rabbi Erica Asch

Mi shebarach avoteinu v'imoteinu
May the One who blessed our ancestors bless us this evening as we embark upon a new journey in the life of our congregation.

We give thanks for the hard work of the past few years the conversations, leaders and thoughtful reflections.

Grant us strength, and endow us with a willingness and tenacity to continue the work, which we have begun.

May we continue to live up to the idea of our founders-
Torah learning a place of learning and tradition for young and old
Avodah worship joyful holiday and life cycle celebrations
Gimmilut Hasidim loving kindness a community with open doors to all Jews and all in the borader community.

Let there be love and understanding among us.
Let peace and friendship be our shelter from life's storms.

Our God and God of all generations, thank you for having granted us life, sustaining us, and permitting us to witness the establishment of this congregation as a Reform center of Torah, worship and community.

Progressive Sukkot Celebration

by Marilyn Weinberg

The sun appeared, the colors on the trees were beautiful and the air was crisp as we began our annual progressive Sukkot celebration on Sunday, October 16. Beth Israel members and friends broke bread, sipped soup, blessed the booths and enjoyed each other's company.

We began the festivities at Maurie Libner and Sharon Bouchard's 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 Peggy Brown and John Martell's home where we again filled the neighborhood with blessings and song. Here we enjoyed two kinds of soup, yummy bread and salad brought by our members. Peggy gave us great tours of their new home. Our final stop was the Hillel house on the Bowdoin campus where we were joined by a lovely group of Bowdoin students and families and Rabbi Erica Asch. With Rabbi Asch we blessed our final sukkah. It truly was a joyous time. And of course the desserts everybody brought were sweet as well.

Thank you to the Brown-Martell and Libner-Bouchard families and the Bowdoin students and families 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 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 Marilyn Weinberg

On Sunday, October 9, the Beth Israel Congregation hosted its wonderful Mid Coast Jewish Music Jam at the Minnie Brown Center led by our accomplished Klezmer musicians Jeff Warschauer and his wife Deborah Strauss. 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, and Deborah's violin and accordion, people brought a clarinet, a tambourine, a variety of percussion instruments, multiple guitars and two mandolins. And of course our voices filled the room. 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. Jeff and Deborah also told engaging stories about the songs. A fun time was had by all!

Simchat Torah Service

by Marina Singer

An enthusiastic crowd of adults and children led by Abby Halpern's beautiful chanting, enjoyed a fun time at Simchat Torah services on Sunday afternoon of October 23. After singing and dancing with the Torahs downstairs, everyone was able to have an Aliyah during the Torah reading. We learned some new tunes and new dances and enjoyed sweet treats together. It was all healthy for our minds, body and spirit, leaving some of us slightly out of breath but fully engaged and full of the joy of the holiday.

Beth Israel Hebrew School Celebrates the Tishrei Holidays

by Abby Halpern

The start of school is always full of our celebrations. The first month of the year, Tishrei, starts with the High Holidays, followed almost immediately by the Sukkot festival.

We were happy to welcome Cantor Jeff Warschauer to our school again this year. In addition to teaching the children some high holiday melodies, he brought several shofarot for the kids to practice blowing. They had an enormously high success rate; it was very loud in the room!

For Sukkot, our children decorated the school sukkah, waved the lulav and etrog, blessed the sukkah, and did a presentation on the meaning of the holiday.

We celebrated Simchat Torah at school by taking out the Torah, looking inside and learning about how it is written, learning the names of the five books of the Torah, singing Ki Mitziyon (from prayer service for taking out the Torah), and Israeli dancing.

All of these celebrations have not taken the place of regularly scheduled class time. Highlights from the classroom include learning to say and write Shana Tova, answering "Dear Abby" letters with lessons from Jewish ethics, and learning Hebrew body parts. Several of the older students are able to read words in the prayer book already.

Looking ahead:
• Save the date for our Highlands concert! On Thursday, December 15, we will once again be singing at the Highlands in honor of Hanukkah.
• Our school Hanukkah party will be on Thursday, December 22. Hope you can make it before leaving on vacation! Hanukkah starts on Saturday night, December 24.

Mid Coast Hunger Prevention

by Jill Standish

We have sponsored a Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Project every Sunday for the last eleven years. The program has grown providing weekend food for families of children who get a reduced fee for lunch. The children go home with food in their backpacks. In general, the need has grown, as more families are insecure about their funds for food.

There has been a lot of construction at the project, and our current volunteers have been very clever and patient, as well.

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, which sometimes we need to remember as well.

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

Birthdays and Anniversaries

November Birthdays November Anniversaries
2 Gordon Blatt   2 Cristina & Stacey Giulianti
10 Rachel Clegg      
11 Judy Wolfe      
15 Alva Gandler      
16 Larry Loeb      
18 Eli Schoenberg      
21 Joan Fields      
21 Kathy Reissmann      
25 Laura McCandish      


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

Welcome New Members

  • Daniel Stone and Laura McCandish
  • Laura Katz
  • Doris Weinberg
  • Phyllis Wolfe

High Holiday Flowers

  • Stephen and Barbara Baseman in loving memory of Isadore Baseman, Sam Axler, Esther Barron and Robert Baseman
  • Matt and Karen Filler in loving memory of Gerald and Frances Feldman and Morris and Gladys Filler
  • Marty Fox and Thyle Sharter in loving memory of Sarah and Harry Shartar
  • Barrett and Barbara Silver in honor of their parents
  • Robert and Barbara Lenox in honor of their grandsons, Zachary and Jayden Bronstein
  • Marc and Crissy Swartz in loving memory of H.R. Autz and Mr. and Mrs. Hugo Autz
  • Donald and Mara Giulianti in honor of Marilyn Weinberg's wonderful leadership
  • Marcia and Lenny Klompus


  • Ellen and Michael Hagler in loving memory of her father, David Goldman
  • Marty and Betty Welt for High Holiday Services
  • Marc and Crissy Swartz in support of the Congregation
  • Jeffrey Cohen and Nancy Heiser in support of the Congregation
  • Paul and Lillian Karass in support of the Congregation
  • Karen Wood in loving memory of Adaia Shumsky
  • Reginald and Pauline Hannaford in loving memory of Adaia Shumsky
  • Jay and Lenore Friedland for High Holiday Aliyah
  • John and Marilyn Darack in support of the Congregation
  • Donald and Mara Giulianti for an additional defibrillator
  • Alan and Katherine Schwartz for High Holiday Services
  • Marc and Crissy Swartz in loving memory of his mother, Janet Lee Swartz
  • Alina Shumsky and David Chatalbash in loving memory of Adaia Shumsky
  • Ron Shumsky and Naho Kikuchi in loving memory of Adaia Shumsky
  • Winifred Silverman in loving memory of Anne Skigen
  • Steven Stern in support of the Congregation
  • Zira and Ansel Schiffer in support of the Congregation
  • Norma Dreyfus and Stan Lane in support of the Congregation
  • Barbara and Robert Lenox in support of the Congregation
  • Peter Jon and Brenda Fides for the High Holiday Services
  • Reg and Pauline Hannaford for Sukkot
  • Henry Goldberg for High Holiday Services
  • Matt and Karen Filler in support of the Congregation
  • Jan Levitt for opening her home to Cantor Jeff Warschauer and Deborah Strauss
  • Helene and Elliot Lerner in loving memory of Jeffery Cherner, son of Marcia and Lenny Klompus to support the Hebrew School Scholarship Fund