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Beth Israel Congregation


Beth Israel Congregation Newsletter

January/February 2017
Tevet /Shevat/Adar 5777

President's Message
Upcoming Services and Programs at Beth Israel
Ladies' Dine Around
Tot Shabbat Upcoming Schedule
Beth Israel Tu B'Shvat Community Seder
Maine + Jewish: Two Centuries of Jewish Life in Maine
Sunshine Committee
Hebrew School Winter Update
Our Roots Service
Maine Jewish Film Festival 2017
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

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 had some very diverse services and programs during November and December. Our Veteran's Day service was lovely with stories about all of our veterans, both past and present. The resumption of "Our Roots" series was also fascinating. Thank you Marina Singer and Sharon Drake. Rachel Connelly continues her Saturday morning Tot Shabbat programs that are so well received. What a wonderful community we have.

Meanwhile our Rabbi Search Committee has been busy reading applications and setting up initial Skype interviews to find rabbinical candidates that might fit the needs of Beth Israel, now and in the future.

During the weekend of December 16, our first candidate arrived for a weekend filled with meetings, dinners, interviews and services. The weather couldn't have been more uncooperative and yet people came out in frigid cold temperatures and snowstorms to participate.

Two more candidates will visit Bath in January. The first candidate arrives during the weekend of January 12-15 and the second candidate will be here January 26-29. Watch for emails with specific dates and times. I hope you will be able to participate in at least one activity during these weekends. Even if you have not been able to attend other services this year, please make time to come. These events represent the future of Beth Israel and your input and participation is very important.

Meanwhile our winter calendar has other things to offer. Our wonderful Hebrew School Students will be leading a service on February 3. They are a joy to watch. The following weekend we will have our annual Tu B'Shevat Seder to celebrate the trees and the environment. If you haven't attended this Seder before, I think you will enjoy it.

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


Friday, January 13 at 7:00 p.m.
Shabbat Evening Service
Led by Rabbinical candidate

Saturday, January 14 at 10:00 a.m.
Tot Shabbat Led by Rachel Connelly
Minnie Brown Center

Saturday, January 14 at 11:00 a.m.
Torah Study
Led by Rabbinical Candidate

Friday, January 27 at 7:00 p.m.
Shabbat Evening Service
Led by Rabbinical candidate Synagogue

Saturday, January 28 at 10:00 a.m.
Tot Shabbat
Led by Rachel Connelly
Minnie Brown Center

Saturday, January 28 at 11:00 a.m.
Torah Study
Led by Rabbinical Candidate


Friday, February 3 at 6:30 p.m.
Shabbat Evening Service
Led by Hebrew School Students

Friday, February 10 at 5:30 p.m.
Community Tu B'Shevat Seder
Minnie Brown Center

Ladies' Dine Around

by Crissy Swartz

All are welcome to join in.

Date: Wednesday, January 11
Place: Coast Bar & Bistro (formally Daniel Stone Inn)
10 Water Street, Brunswick
Time: 6:00 p.m.

Please RSVP by Monday, January 10
Crissy Swartz

Tot Shabbat Upcoming Schedule

by Rachel Connelly

January's Tot Shabbat will be on January 14 and February's Tot Shabbat will be on January 28. (I do know that January 28 is not technically in February but nonetheless...) There are no changes to the time, 10:00-11:00 a.m. Shabbat morning at the Minnie Brown Center.

We have been having a lot of fun in Tot Shabbat this year. We made shofars out of paper towel tubes, our own Torahs on which to write "shoulds" and "dont's" and we decorated battery operated candles for Shabbat. There is always Challah and "wine" and a read-aloud book or two. Come join us-toddlers, preschoolers and kindergarteners and older siblings all welcome.

Call or email Rachel Connelly with questions.

Beth Israel Tu B'Shvat Community Seder

by Marilyn Weinberg

Minnie Brown Center
February 10, 2017
5:30 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 February 3 to reserve your space.

Maine + Jewish: Two Centuries of Jewish Life in Maine

by Amy Waterman

In the spring of 2018 and continuing through much of 2019, the Maine State Museum in Augusta will present a major exhibition, Maine + Jewish: Two Centuries of Jewish Life in Maine. This will be the largest public exhibit on the subject ever presented, addressing the distinct qualities and circumstances of Jewish life in Maine, and the contributions of Jewish Mainers to the state - from the earliest Jewish immigrants to today's cultural, business, and civic leaders. The MSM is committed to representing all parts of Maine - including, of course, Bath-Brunswick - and we would be delighted to incorporate your stories and materials: items associated with life cycle events and simchas, Jewish-run businesses, Jewish education, social justice movements, summer camps, synagogues, community agencies, home practices and foodways ... the gamut. If you have ideas, suggestions, treasures, or memories, please be in touch with Guest Curator Amy E. Waterman.

For more information:

Sunshine Committee

by Teresa Gandler

Thanks so much to Sharon Drake and Crissy Swartz for restarting the Sunshine Committee. This committee will serve Beth Israel Congregation by providing simple things like a card or a warm meal to cheer someone up or to organize community donation events like the SignuUpGenius that was just emailed for the Tedford Shelter Christmas Dinner. Although it is in the beginning stages of its formation it will be vital to the wellbeing of our community in the future, it will let the community know we care.

The Sunshine Committee would like to send out a request for Artist Submissions for the Art Card Project. We would like drawings/paintings to showcase the unique members of our community, as well as the environment around us. We would like to celebrate what makes us special through the talent of the artists, ages 1-100, in our community. The submissions will be printed on cards and used by the sunshine committee to brighten someone's day.

To submit art please email Teresa Gandler. Make sure to include your name as you would like it to appear on the back of the card and the title of the work. All submissions should be in PNG or JPG format. If you need help please let Teresa know.

Hebrew School Winter Update

by Abby Halpern

We are having a great year in Hebrew school. The students are working very hard on Hebrew reading and aleph-bet in Morah Alina's classes. During tefillot each week, I help the students identify words in the prayer book that they recognize. In Judaic studies, grades 3-4 have been making a large timeline of Jews in America, from the first Jews in New Amsterdam to the birth of their parents! Younger students (grades 1-2) are continuing to do crafts and read stories related to Jewish holidays and values. Students in all grades are also learning about the weekly Torah portion (also known as a sedra) through reading "sedra scenes."

This year, Kristallnacht (the night of broken glass, commemorating the 1938 pogroms in Germany) occurred right after the election. We read the kids the quote from Kurt Messerschmidt, as he reflected on his memories of Kristallnacht: "I'm sure that some of the people standing there disapproved of what the Nazis did, but their disapproval was only silence, and silence is what did the harm." The kids understood that it is important to speak up if they see something bad happening because otherwise people will think it's okay to keep doing the bad thing. Some kids expressed worry about the election results. We hope that the discussion reassured them that collectively we have the ability to stop bad things from happening if we all speak up together.

In December, the kids performed Chanukah songs at the Highlands and for the Melton class. Thank you to Jesse Feinberg for accompanying us on the piano. The kids did a great job, learning several new songs with words in Hebrew and Ladino.

Our Hebrew School Shabbat will be on Friday night, February 3. Look for your child to have a prayer assignment at the beginning of January. The students take such pride in their being able to lead the whole service together!

A happy new year to all, and we are looking forward to a lot more Hebrew school learning and fun in 2017!

Our Roots Service

by Marilyn Weinberg

We are thrilled that we are continuing our series on "Our Roots" that we began several years ago. We have heard from a number of individuals, sharing their stories of their family's immigration to the United States. How did they arrive in the United States and why did they come to Maine.

On Friday night, December 2, we gathered at the synagogue for a lovely Shabbat service led by Marina Singer and her granddaughter Julia. Before the end of the service Marina Singer and Sharon Drake shared the stories of their grandparents and parent's challenges and journeys.

Marina's father was the one left in Europe to stay with his stepmother as the rest of his siblings came to the US. By the time they had enough money to come to the US WWI had broken out and leaving Europe was that much more difficult.

Sharon shared the story of her family's settling in British Columbia before they came to the US. What a different experience that was.

We love listening to these stories. There are so many common themes and yet each one is different. If you might like to share some of your family's history, please let us know.

Maine Jewish Film Festival 2017

by Marilyn Weinberg

This year Beth Israel will again be a proud sponsor of the Maine Jewish Film festival. So mark your calendars for the week of March 18-25. On March 18 and 19 there will be movies at the Frontier Cafe & Cinema in Brunswick along with a special opening celebration.

Birthday and Anniversaries

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. If you notice that someone in your family is not listed, please send along all information to Teresa Gandler 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
7 Laura Katz   24 Harry & Kathy Reissmann
9 Mark Ireland      
14 Harry 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 Samantha Gersh      
28 Christina Schoenberg      


  • Janice Povich in support of the synagogue
  • Shelia Lucente in support of the synagogue
  • Louis Gross in support of the synagogue
  • Stan Lane and Norma Dreyfus towards the purchase of a defibrillator
  • Stephen and Barbara Baseman towards the purchase of a defibrillator
  • Barbara and Barrett Silver in loving memory of her father, Samuel Becker
  • Friends and colleagues of Andy Schoenberg at the Maine Composites Alliance and the Composites Engineering Lab in loving memory of Andy's father, George Schoenberg