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Beth Israel Congregation


Beth Israel Congregation Newsletter

March/April 2017
Adar /Nisan/Iyyar 5777

President's Message
Donation Opportunities
Upcoming Services and Programs at Beth Israel
Ladies' Dine Around
Community Passover Seder
Tot Shabbat
Highlights from Hebrew School
Reform Judaism's Religious Action Center
Meet Camille Kauffunger
Sunshine Committee
Maine Jewish Film Festival Comes to Brunswick
Maine Conference for Jewish Life
Mid-Maine Jewish Funtensive
Remembrances for March-April 2017
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

Although the weather has certainly taken up a lot of our thoughts and energy lately, we are fortunate at Beth Israel to be in the midst of some very exciting times. For the last two months we have had several wonderful Rabbi candidates visit with us. So many of you have been able to attend the variety of services they provided and chat with them. Even the children in our Hebrew School weighed in with their own questions. And I will tell you that every one of our candidates commented on how welcome you made them feel and what a wonderful community we had. Of course I agreed wholeheartedly.

During the next few weeks the board and the Rabbi Search Committee will be spending time meeting, discussing and making some very important decisions for our community. I think we are all ready to have a religious leader for our synagogue who can nourish the warmth we already have, help us connect our beliefs and practices to our everyday lives, and bring us together during these challenging and contentious times.

I do want to thank the Rabbi Search Committee who has given countless hours pouring over resumes, doing Skype interviews coming to all the services, and cooking up a storm for each visit. Thank you to Rachel Connelly, Matt Filler, Nonny Soifer, Robert Gersh, Marina Singer, Allan Kaplan, and Aaron Greenwald.

Meanwhile, lots of things are happening this spring (assuming it arrives sometime). We have Shabbat Evening Services on March 3, 17 and 31 with special leaders and speakers. Rachel Connelly continues with the monthly Tot Shabbat service. There will be a Purim celebration on Sunday, March 12 and the Maine Jewish Film Festival kicks off in Brunswick at the Eveningstar on March 18. In April we will be holding our Community Passover Seder on April 11 and a special Holocaust Remembrance Service on Friday, April 21.

Mark your calendars with all these dates. We hope to see all of you soon.

The energy and enthusiasm at Beth Israel is inspiring and hopeful for the future of our little congregation. Come to everything, or maybe just one thing, but come.

Donation Opportunities

by Karen Filler, Treasurer

Our synagogue and its programs exist and happen because of the continued support of our members and friends. We are a vibrant and caring community and your donations reflect this.

Right now, gifts received are categorized as follows: support of the synagogue, support of the Hebrew School, memorial gifts, and gifts in honor of an event. We are creating three new places to which you can now designate for your donation. They are the Sunshine Committee, Building Fund, and Fund the Rabbi.

Donations made to Fund the Rabbi will be used to help defray the ongoing costs of our congregation having its own rabbi. One of our longtime congregants has generously offered to match up to $10,000 in donations to this fund. This is an unbelievably generous gift and hopefully will be an incentive to all of us to donate to this fund.

Don't forget that any donation made by March 15 will be eligible for a ticket for the Maine Jewish Film Festival.

Upcoming Services and Programs at Beth Israel

by Marilyn Weinberg


Friday, March 3 at 7:00 p.m.
Shabbat Evening Service Synagogue

Saturday, March 4 at 10:00 a.m.
Tot Shabbat
Led by Rachel Connelly
Minnie Brown Center

Sunday, March 12 at 3:00 p.m.
Community Purim Celebration

Friday, March 17 at 7:00 p.m.
Shabbat Evening Service

Friday, March 31 at 7:00 p.m.
Shabbat Evening Service
Speaker: Dr. Deborah Hagler


Saturday, April 8 at 10:00 a.m.
Tot Shabbat
Led by Rachel Connelly
Minnie Brown Center

Tuesday, April 11 at 5:00 p.m.
Community Passover Seder
Minnie Brown Center

Friday, April 21 at 7:00 p.m.
Shabbat Evening Service
Speaker: Erich Haller

Ladies' Dine Around

by Crissy Swartz

All are welcome to join in.

Date: Wednesday, March 1
Place: Lemongrass Restaurant
212 Maine Street, Brunswick
Time: 6:00 p.m.

Please RSVP by Monday, February 27 to Crissy Swartz
(final head count needs to be phoned in)

Community Passover Seder

Tuesday, April 11
5:00 p.m.

You are invited to join family and friends for a potluck Community Passover Seder.

Reservations required by April 2.
Please e-mail

To cover expenses:
$5.00 per person/$10.00 per family for members
$10.00 per person/$20.00 per family for non-members

Tot Shabbat

by Rachel Connelly

Preschoolers Enjoy Songs, Stories and Especially Challah Snack Monthly on Shabbat Morning

The basement of Minnie Brown now sports a new stylish toddler-sized wooden table and a set of brightly colored toddler/preschooler-sized chairs, which we put to use monthly at 10:00 a.m. on Shabbat. Parents and children are encouraged to attend when they can. No sign-up and rsvp needed. The children who have been attending know the routine, but the new ones are easily acclimated. We start with some playtime with blocks and Duplos. Then it is circle time with some songs, a discussion of the theme of the day and a picture book. Snack and a craft project usually follow. Sometimes we have enough children for a game or two before we disperse. Parents usually stay with the children for the 45 minutes and enjoy chatting while the children play. We have also added a bunch of new picture books that parents and children can borrow from our school library.

Themes include holidays, Shabbat practices and symbols, and Jewish values.

The remaining Tot Shabbats for the school year are:

  • March 4
  • April 8 (note this date is a change from the original schedule)
  • May 6
  • June 3

For questions or suggestions contact Rachel Connelly

Highlights from Hebrew School

Abby Halpern

The highlight of our winter was the Hebrew School Shabbat. The kids studied very hard and led the service with poise. Todah rabbah to Marilyn Weinberg and Marina Singer for helping the students learn their parts. We also enjoyed at potluck Shabbat dinner together. At the dinner, the older students showed off their timelines of American Jewish History and modeling clay sculptures of sites in Israel. The sculptures were the culmination of a unit on Israel's cities, culture, and way of life.

Susan's class learned about tu b'shevat and the concept of tikkun olam. They also learned that we have the opportunity to say 100 blessings every day. On long rolls of paper, they created their own lists of 100 blessings!

The kids have enjoyed meeting our rabbinical candidates and asking interesting questions, such as, "Have you ever taught Hebrew to kids before?" and " Why do you want to move to Maine?" We also had a discussion of what a rabbi does and the diversity of rabbis in America.

At the beginning of the year, Alina brought in a calendar with many social justice quotes. We have been discussing one quote a month as part of our tefillah routine. It has been a valuable exercise in getting the kids to think about their role in making the world a better place. The moral lessons have included what all human beings around the world have in common with each other and what it means to " join the fight" against injustice.

Reform Judaism's Religious Action Center

by Marty Fox

An Op-Ed submitted by
Marty Fox
Board Member

A little over four years ago, we moved and retired to Wiscasset. We were members of a small Congregation in Laconia, NH (membership about the size of our Bath Congregation). Over 20 years ago the Temple Board debated whether or not to affiliate with Reform Judaism. The main arguments for joining were similar to our Board's thinking (a way to obtain Rabbis, being part of a larger Jewish organization, and access to educational materials).

Our student Rabbi Susan Silverman (Sarah Silverman's sister) had moved to Silver Springs, MD after being ordained. She invited the Youth Group to go to Washington, DC, stay at her house, go to the normal DC stops and also visit Reform Judaism's Religious Action Center. It was a moving experience for me to go into the room where the Civil Rights Act was drafted. RAC's focus is on social justice issues. I do not view social justice issues as political. I view them more as human rights issues. To me, social justice is the basis for Judaism.

I hope you will visit RAC's web site <>. My opinion is Reform Judaism's Religious Action Center is enough reason to join the Reform Movement. I am proud of our Congregation for joining.

Meet Camille Kauffunger

Soon you may see a new name attached to our Beth Israel emails and hear a new voice on our phone line. Camille Kauffunger has agreed to assist our Congregation by performing some of our routine communication and administrative functions.

Some of you have met Camille or her spouse, Kevin, and two young children, Ren and Stella, at Tot Shabbat or one of our holiday celebrations over the past year. Often spotted in the greater community, Camille also works part-time in the neighborhood with Main Street Bath, and volunteers as Chair of the Arrowsic Education Committee and with the West Bath PTO. Prior to moving to Arrowsic, Camille served for 12 years as a crisis-hotline manager on the leadership team of a cutting-edge domestic violence agency in Pittsburgh, PA. Her social service experience comes through in the calm and steady presence she brings to her work and interactions.

With an appreciation for building community, Camille looks forward to getting to know our current membership better and supporting us as we transition and grow.

Sunshine Committee

by Peggy Brown

The Sunshine Committee has been revived and repurposed. Our mission is to help members of the Beth Israel Congregation through periods of difficulty and to celebrate during times of joy. We strengthen our community through acts of mitzvah.

Here are some of the activities we are offering. Please feel free to make suggestions.

  • We will send cards for various occasions such as welcoming new members, births, bar and bat mitzvah, get well, graduations, sympathy and loss. Please call Sharon Drake or Chrissy Swartz if you know of an event and an appropriate card from the Congregation will be sent.
  • Sometimes, a meal or two is needed during times of illness, recuperation or the arrival of a new baby. Food, fresh or frozen, can be delivered to congregation member's home.
  • We will welcome new members to our community with the delivery of a gift basket.
  • If you are unable to drive and need a ride to a medical appointment, shopping, or errands, the Sunshine Committee will help.
  • Need a visit in the hospital, nursing home or just at home alone? The Sunshine Committee will help.
  • When a family member or loved one dies, it can be overwhelming to know what to do. Call on the Sunshine Committee to help with organizing and coordinating shiva.

We will be relying on congregation members to notify the Sunshine Committee of any needs or actions they know about for the Committee to follow up on. Please call Sharon Drake or Crissy Swartz.

If you would like to be a part of this helping community, please follow this link to sign up:

When you join, you will be included in any messages that go out asking for help. When you are able to help, you respond to a request. When you are not available or unable to help, you will not need to respond.

The current committee members are Sharon Drake, Peggy Brown, Crissy Swartz, Jill Standish, Theresa Gandler, Lorna Lichter and Pauline Haller.

Maine Jewish Film Festival Comes to Brunswick

by Marilyn Weinberg

Eveningstar Cinema, Brunswick ME

With the support of members of our congregation, Beth Israel is a proud sponsor of the Maine Jewish Film Festival <> again this year. There will be three films shown during the weekend of March 18 and 19 at the Eveningstar Cinema in Brunswick. I am listing the links for details for each film.

Tickets can be purchased directly from Eveningstar Cinema at Spread the word and bring your friends.

Saturday, March 18
11:00 a.m.
The Women's Balcony

The collapse of a women's balcony in a synagogue in Jerusalem sets off a war between the sexes when an ultra-Orthodox Rabbi decides to replace it with a small room behind bars. A funny and endearing film.

Sunday, March 19
11:00 a.m.
A Grain of Truth

A noir whodunit. Prosecutor Teodor Szacki (Polish Academy Award-winning actor Robert Wieckiewicz) is investigating the brutal murder of a well-known activist. Mature Content.

Sunday, March 19
4:00 p.m.

Endearing, smart and unforgettable, Moos keeps you smiling from the opening scene to the closing credits. Uncomfortably unmarried and without a clear career path, Moos pursues her dream of acting. Will she make it, or will lies, love affairs and a meddling family derail her?

Maine Conference for Jewish Life

June 9-11, 2017
Colby College
Waterville, Maine

Join Jews from around the state to experience the best of Jewish learning, culture and life.

For more information and to register:

Mid-Maine Jewish Funtensive

June 26-30
July 10-14
9:30 am-3:00 pm

Two weeks of Jewish summer programming for all ages for only $5 a day.

Games * Hebrew * Jewish Values * Crafts * New Friends * Songs * Stories

NEW: transportation from Portland and Lewiston to Augusta. Come one day or ten! Flexible Schedule!

For more information and to reserve your spot:
Rabbi Erica Asch
207-622-7450 (Temple Beth El, Augusta, Maine)

Remembrances for March-April 2017

As we start this new column, we know we are missing many names. Please send them to us so that we can add your loved ones to this list.

May their memories be for a blessing

WE REMEMBER Hebrew Date Calendar Date (2017)
Selma E Gilman Adar 5 March 3
Rose Hurwitz Silver Adar 5 March 3
Ann Torow Adar 8 March 6
Frances Weinberg Adar 8 March 6
Helen Ruth Charney Adar II 10 March 8
Edward L. Selig Adar II 12 March 10
Carol Jablow Adar 12 March 10
Helen Freedman Cohen Adar 20 March 18
Sarah Goldman Adar 20 March 18
Mishael Selig Adar 21 March 19
Helen Isaacson Adar II 22 March 20
Joseph Silberstein Adar 24 March 22
Elaine Leighton Adar 27 March 25
Norman Jablow Adar 27 March 25
Moshe Ben Gedalyah Adar 27 March 25
Gerard Feldman Nissan 6 April 2
Elaine Friedberg Giulianti Nissan 9 April 5
Maurice Turet Nissan 9 April 5
Sandor Polster Nissan 10 April 6
Fred Gersh Nissan 13 April 9
Ellen Leavy Nissan 14 April 14
Albert M. Swartz Nissan 17 April 13
Jesse Lane Nissan 20 April 16
Louis Sarazan Nissan 23 April 19
Morris Filler Nissan 26 April 22
Gladys Filler Nissan 26 April 22
Harold Hershenhart Nissan 27 April 23
Harold Gilman Nissan 28 April 24
Michael Lobenthal Nissan 28 April 24
Peter Rubin Nissan 28 April 24
Cheryl Milkes Moore Nissan 29 April 25
Isadore Baseman Nissan 30 April 26
Jeffrey Robert Cherner Nissan 30 April 26
Elayne Schoenberg Iyar 3 April 29

Birthdays and Anniversaries

March Birthdays March Anniversaries
1 Max Ergas 15 Jennie & Campbell Clegg
3 Donny Giulianti 19 Glen and Beth Eisman
4 Robert Lenox
5 Gary Torow
6 Crissy Swartz
8 Teresa Gandler
9 Andrew Schoenberg
10 Monica Blatt
12 Ethan Blatt
12 Tobyn Blatt
12 Nicholas Giulianti
13 Jennie Clegg
16 Peter Felsenthal
20 Maurie Libner
28 Campbell Clegg
April Birthdays April Anniversaries
2 Lisa Tessler 14 Daniel Stone and
5 Nadia Leiner Laura McCandish
7 Sumner Blatt
8 Mort Panish
9 Susan Horowitz
13 Sheila Cohen
18 Barbara Baseman
18 Leslie Shaw
18 Steven Barr


Many thanks to the following people for their donations to Beth Israel Congregation

  • Sanford and Cynthia Boxerman in support of the synagogue
  • Erich and Pauline Haller in support of the synagogue
  • George and Margaret Isaacson in support of the synagogue
  • Irwin and Lori Brodsky in support of the synagogue
  • Maxine Gersh in support of the synagogue
  • Ruth Benedikt in support of the synagogue
  • Sheldon and Denise Tepler in support of the synagogue
  • Shelia Lucente in support of the synagogue
  • Jon and Lorna Lichter in support of the synagogue
  • The Schoenberg Family in loving memory of George Schoenberg
  • Marilyn and Fred Weinberg in loving memory of her mother, Ann Isacoff
  • Donna Rubin in loving memory of her parents, Morris and Mary Petlock
  • Barbara and Robert Lenox in loving memory of his father, Fred Lenox
  • Barbara and Robert Lenox in loving memory of her mother, Freda Selig
  • Evelyn and Morton Panish in loving memory of her mother, Else Chaim and his stepfather, Alex Mutterperl
  • Peggy Brown and John Martell in loving memory of her grandmother Sonia Wernick,
  • Sharon Drake for Maine Jewish Film Festival Sponsorship
  • Marilyn and Fred Weinberg for Maine Jewish Film Festival Sponsorship
  • Andy and Chris Schoenberg for the joy of Eli's Bar Mitzvah
  • Nathan Cogan for the Building Fund
  • Sharon Drake for Flowers for the Synagogue
  • Phylis Lisi for the Hebrew School PJ Library books

Welcome New Members

  • Erich and Pauline Haller
  • Richard Jablow and Anne Hebebrand