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WordsEtz Chaim from

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Early Summer WORDS from Etz Chaim A OnEdition the Web @2017 www.etzchaim-portland.org Page 1


Words The Rabbi From

This column will appear in the Portland Press Herald on Saturday, June 17.

Read The Instructions I recently bought a new gas stove and a matching over-the-stove microwave for my home. The appliance company delivered the stove and installed it very quickly. They were going to charge me a fee to remove the old microwave and install the new. I had seen it done a couple of times and thought I could easily do it myself. I removed the front panel of the old unit to locate the mounting bolts. I could see them but did not know how to access them. I then removed the bottom of the unit and still no luck. Starting to get frustrated, I remembered those famous words: “When all else fails, read the instructions.” Suddenly, my mission was much clearer. Earlier this month, Jewish people all over the world celebrated the harvest festival called Shavuot. This holiday is also recognized as the day the Ten Commandments were delivered by Moses at Mt. Sinai in the year 1313 B.C.E. The Ten Commandments have long held a special place not only in Judaism, but also within the broader configuration of values we call the Judeo-Christian ethic. Most of the world’s major religions recognize and honor the values represented in the Ten Commandments. We believe that these commandments, along with the rest of the Torah, which ­­­­­­­ soon followed, serve as the instructions or blueprint for how we should lead our lives. Societies throughout the ages have attempted in countless ways to live outside of these guidelines. Perhaps it is time to take another look and “read the instructions.” Page 2

I like to divide the Ten Commandments into three sets of three related principles, with the final commandment standing alone. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the former Chief Rabbi of Great Britain and the British Commonwealth, states the following: “The first three commands, through which the people declare their obedience and loyalty to G‑d above all else, establish the single most important principle of a free society, namely the moral limits of power. Without this, the danger even in democracy is the tyranny of the majority, against which the best defense against it is the sovereignty of God.” This notion of the tyranny of the majority is also evident once again in the second three commandments, which reference and honor the creation of life. Once again, they establish limits to the idea of autonomy, namely that we are not free to do whatever we like so long as it does not harm others. The third set of three commandments address principles that are essential to operating a properly functioning society. The basic concepts about the institutions of marriage, justice and commerce are guided by them. The final commandment prohibits the envy of that which belongs to others, whether it be your neighbor’s spouse, house, possessions or anything else. Envy lies at the heart of much of the violence, crime and moral decay that has existed since the beginning of our time on earth. The instruction manual known as the Ten Commandments guards against the “tyranny of the majority”, limits powers of autonomy, lays down guiding principles for society and teaches us to recognize and be content with what we already have. If all of us, those elected to office, business owners, teachers, friends and neighbors could live by these instructions, how much better off our world would be. The Paris Agreement on Climate Change has been on my mind as I write this article.

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President Trump has decided that The United States will withdraw from this agreement and will not honor the commitments made by the Obama administration to limit any further negative effects of climate change on the world’s environment. The president was elected by a clear majority of votes in our electoral college. As president, he seems to have the legal right to make that decision. At the same time, his representation of the majority has been in question since he was elected. Clearly the vast majority of Americans, indeed the citizens of the world, support the Paris Treaty. \Is our president using the tyranny of the majority and the support that he enjoys in the House and Senate against the will of the people? Does he understand that we are not free to continue to act as we wish unilaterally?

occur when we stray far away from the values that have guided us for so long. It is our duty as citizens of the world to continue to do whatever we can to repair that which needs repair, whether it be work on climate change, taking care of those less fortunate and underserved, or the erosion of common decency. Ours is a job that never ends and seems impossible at times. It is difficult even to know where to start. Maybe those famous words are true after all…when all else fails, read the instructions.

—Rabbi Gary Berenson

The Establishment Clause contained in the First Amendment, known as the Separation of Church and State clause, does not allow our government to be run according to any particular religious ideology. We may be a country built on Judeo-Christian values, but we are a nation of laws established under the guidelines of the US Constitution. Whatever our government does on our behalf will always be criticized by some and applauded by others. Our system of checks and balances should ensure the legality of government’s decisions, but cannot ensure that those decisions are always reached with the good of the majority in mind. How about those pesky Ten Commandments? They have served as a set of instructions for mankind for more than 3300 years. With all of the complex and far-reaching decisions that we all need to make, wouldn’t they still be the best guide for us today? We are now seeing some of the results that WORDS from Etz Chaim A On the Web @ www.etzchaim-portland.org Page 3


Regular Services At Etz Chaim Everyone is welcome to join us for regular services held at Etz Chaim all year round: — Shabbat Morning — Saturdays at 9.30. Followed by Portland’s best Oneg. — Evening Minyan every Monday at 5. — Our Family Kabbalat Shabbat Service on the 2nd Friday of Each Month at 7 p.m. Is On Summer Break, But Will Resume In The Fall. Have A Safe, Fun Summer & Meanwhile Please Join Us Any Monday or Saturday For Services.

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Words Contributing about

Contributions to Etz Chaim In memory of Robert “Nissan” Tillman Kenny and Mary Nelson In appreciation for Shabbat services Joan Locke In honor of their son’s Bar Mitzvah Andrew and Jennifer Steinberg In honor of Mother’s Yahrzeit (Frances Kay) Allison and Rush Brown In Honor of Grandson’s Bar Mitzvah Dr. Albert Shems In Honor of Son’s Bar Mitzvah Dr. Michele Shems In honor of Morris Isenman Yahrzeit Helen Isenman Susan Isenman Barry Isenman In Honor of Rabbi Berenson’s Wedding to Sindee Gozansky Stan and Doris Pollack Alan and Gail Atkins Gary Koocher Rosalyn Siegel

Etz Chaim Synagogue 267 Congress St., Portland, Maine 04101 Phone (207) 773-2339 info@etzchaim-portland.org Bulletin Edited By: Ted Fleischaker & Ivan Howard

In memory of Don Finegold Ted Wirth Judith Herman Kiddush fund David Turesky Ed Schultz In honor of Marshall Tinkle Ted Fleischaker and Ivan Howard Maos Chitim Susan Isenman Helen Isenman Stan and Doris Pollack

To Donate, Contact Rabbi Berenson. Information is below left.

Words

about

Etz Chaim

Etz Chaim, formerly an Orthodox congregation, is now an egalitarian, unaffiliated synagogue enjoying a resurgence in membership. All are welcome to attend weekly services on Monday Evenings and Saturday mornings, as well as once-a-month on Friday evenings, and for special holidays throughout the year. Lifecycle ceremonies such as bar/bas mitzvahs, weddings, funerals, baby naming, and vow renewals all take place here. Contact us if you would like us to host your special event. Etz Chaim is located in the Downtown Portland Historic District, on the peninsula at the foot of Munjoy Hill. The neighborhood housed so many Jewish families at the turn of the twentieth century, that it was commonly referred to as “Jerusalem of the North.” Established in 1921, Etz Chaim is celebrating its 96th year of continuous service to Jews in Greater Portland and beyond.

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Words The Kitchen From

It’s that time of year when, back in the day, for the most part mom and Grandma Gertrude would practically shut down their kitchens. Not only so they could get some Summer time off, but because, to quote grandma, “It’s just too hot and the oven will heat up the house too much.” Thus we had few home-baked cookies, none of Gertrude’s famous roasts or hardly anything but a quickly broiled burger or maybe some pickle meat, as she called corned beef, which boiled on the stovetop. But none of us ever starved... in fact we looked

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forward to a couple of cold dishes which mom and grandma always found delighted us in the hot days we’d have growing up in Louisville --- and in Grandma’s case, doing so without air conditioning. Summer cooking was supposed to be easy, fast, last awhile once a dish was made and above all nothing done to heat up the house. Mom’s favourite this time of year, which my sister, Kay, recently reminded me to make was called “Never-Ending Salad.” It not only meets all the above criteria, but it’s relatively healthy, lends itself to additions and improvisation and it’s even 100% doable in the most kosher of kitchens. And with some crackers, cheese and eat-alongs it makes for a great lunch at my desk, below.

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To start, you will need two or three pounds of ripe tomatoes sliced thickly, one very large (or two medium) onions peeled and sliced or diced and a bottle of your favourite Italian dressing. Any brand will work. To make it, place a layer of tomatoes in the bottom of a bowl, then add a layer of onions. Next, another layer of tomatoes, then one of onions until your bowl is close to full. Pour the Italian dressing (yes the whole bottle) over the tomatoes and onions and stir well. You can then go with it as is or add things you might wish. I like a few spoonsful of capers or some finely chopped celery. Friends tend to grind a bit of pepper in and stir once more. For this to be at its best, mom always made it at least a day before serving, then popped it into the fridge for things, as she put it “to meld” and the flavours to combine. But wait, you are surely asking. Why was it “Never-Ending”? Simply because for the rest of the Summer, after mom’s special bowl first was filled with this salad, she’d add whatever was needed to keep this salad alive. If dad ate too many onions, she’d add more and stir. Not enough tomatoes or dressing? Just add what was needed, keep melding and have it handy in the fridge. It makes a great Summer night accompaniment to hot dogs, burgers or a sandwich and it won’t heat up the kitchen!

What you will need depends on your taste, but more or less four or five large potatoes peeled, boiled until still sliceable and cut into thick rounds, that same one or two onions but this time diced and celery (to taste) de-stringed and diced. As with the Never-Ending Salad, layer the items in a bowl, adding salt & pepper to taste as you go along. When all are placed, add white distilled vinegar and vegetable oil to your liking and stir. Correct for salt, pepper or oil or vinegar until you are happy, then like the other salad, pop it in the fridge overnight to meld. Note that my sister and I differ on Grandma Gertrude’s potato salad in that I tend to tweak the recipe, sometimes using olive oil in place of her Wesson or Crisco or Corn Oil. I also have been known toss in a few capers (Have I mentioned I truly love them and Micucci’s has a great deal on huge jars most days?) and on rare occasion a packet of Good Seasons Italian dressing mix can find its way into the potato salad as well. So there you are. My sister makes it just as grandma did, I tend to modernize or play a bit, but both ways the potato salad makes a great eat-along on a hot Summer night. And best of all, just like the Never-Ending Salad, making it won’t heat up the kitchen!

As for Grandma’s contribution, she called it German Potato Salad and while one does need to peel and boil potatoes, the rest is cool and the result, while ending (not never) will last a week or more in the fridge, though please get it out an hour before serving as Grandma Gertrude always said it would taste better room temperature. WORDS from Etz Chaim A On the Web @ www.etzchaim-portland.org Page 7


It’s that time of year when, back in the day, for the most part mom and Grandma Gertrude would practically shut down their kitchens. Not only so they could get some Summer time off, but because, to quote grandma, “It’s just too hot and the oven will heat up the house too much.” Thus we had few cookies, none of Gertrude’s famous roasts or hardly anything but a quickly broiled burger or maybe some pickle meat, as she called corned beef which boiled on the stovetop. But none of us ever starved... in fact we looked forward to a couple of cold dishes which mom and grandma always found delighted us in the hot days we’d have growing up in Louisville --- and in Grandma’s case, doing so without air conditioning. Summer cooking was supposed to be easy, fast, last awhile once a dish was made and above all nothing to heat up the house. Mom’s favourite this time of year, which my sister, Kay, recently reminded me to make was called “Never-Ending Salad.” It not only meets all the above criteria, but it’s relatively healthy, lends itself to additions and improvisation and it’s even 100% doable in the most kosher of kitchens.

Cecil F. Alexander composed the lyrics to the famous hymn tune All Things Bright and Beautiful which include the lines: All creatures great and small, All things wise and wonderful: The Lord God made them all. Here at Etz Chaim we take the words to heart as Dr. Martin Finkelstein’s dog Henry recently paid a visit for Shabbos services, and when Martin was called to the Torah, it was only fair that Henry got to go up, too. And he got a pet from Rabbi Berenson. Page 8

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What Are You Doing Saturday Morning?

Consider this your personal invitation to join us Saturday morning for services, followed by the best oneg in Portland. It all gets underway at 9.30 a.m., and we generally wrap up by 11.30, in time to enjoy some great friendship and food. Everyone’s invited, and we have no dress code, so plan to join us at Etz Chaim next Saturday Morning for Shabbos services!

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B’nai Mitzvah at Etz Chaim Are you planning for an upcoming Bar or Bat Mitzvah for your son or daughter? What better location to hold it than the beautiful and historic Etz Chaim Synagogue? There are still several dates open and available for 2017 and 2018. Whether you are working with a tutor or would like to have Rabbi Berenson tutor your child, consider reserving a date for your big day. You can reach Rabbi Berenson by phone at 329-9854 or by e-mail at Portlandrabbi@gmail.com. Page 10

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W

more of the service in the vernacular.

ords From

Our President

The story goes that Grossberger finally achieved his life-long dream of owning a Jaguar XJ. He was so excited about his new purchase that he drove to the home of his rabbi, an elderly transplant from the Old Country, and said, “I know this may be unusual, but can you say a bracha over my Jag?” The sage replied, “Vos is dos, a ‘Jag’?” Rather than explain, Grossberger realized that he’d picked the wrong rabbi for this undertaking. So he paid a visit to the distinguished rabbi of a larger congregation and said, “I know I’m not one of your congregants but I was wondering if you could do me a favor – and of course I’ll be happy to make a donation to your discretionary fund – could you say a bracha over my Jag?” The rabbi said, “I’m always delighted to be of service, but would you kindly enlighten me as to what is a ‘Jag’?” Grossberger decided to try again with a younger and hipper rabbi who had recently come to town. He posed the same request: “Could you say a bracha over my Jag?” The young clergyman replied, “Happy to help, but just one question: What’s a bracha?” At Etz Chaim, we realize that not everyone has the same level of Jewish learning. Many of our congregants, old as well as young, never received the benefits of a Hebrew School education. Others may just not feel comfortable reading Hebrew. At our monthly Friday night service, we’ve tried to strike a reasonable balance between Hebrew prayers (with transliterations) and English readings. The service is generally at least fifty percent in English. Nevertheless, we know that some of our members would prefer even

That’s why we’ve decided, as an experiment, to start offering a Friday evening service that will be almost entirely in English. This will be in addition to, and not in lieu of, our regular Friday service and our children’s service. We recognize that this may be somewhat controversial. Hebrew is traditionally regarded as the “language of prayer.” Even the more progressive branches of Judaism have gradually added more and more Hebrew into the liturgy. But on the other hand, there has always been a place for vernacular prayer in Judaism. No one would dispute that it’s better to daven (pray) in English than not to daven at all. It’s also arguable that it’s more meaningful to recite the words of prayer while knowing what all the words mean than to race through a Hebrew litany without understanding the meaning. Reading the prayers in a good translation can also make one appreciate the beauty, fundamental wisdom, and continuing relevance of the basic elements of prayer that have been used in Jewish prayer for centuries. So I hope you’ll join us in this experiment. We probably won’t start until after the High Holidays, but please stay tuned for further announcements. If we attract a good crowd, we may expand the frequency and scope of this service. If not, we’ll assume people are voting with their feet and we’ll try something different. But if you’ve been avoiding Jewish services because of a certain amount of Hebrew-phobia, this might the service for you. It might also be a way to lead you to a renewed interest in Jewish ritual and even in the basics of the Hebrew language – perhaps just enough to know that a bracha is a blessing. B’shalom,

— Marshall Tinkle

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Guest Speakers Abound At Friday Night Services Friday night Kabbalat Shabbat Services are on break until Fall, but those who attended the last few for this season got to hear from everyone about everything imaginable, from Bill Schulz speaking about Sacred Spaces to City Councilman Pious Ali, who discussed Portland’s role as a welcoming city for refugees. Don’t miss Kabbalat Shabbat services when they resume in the Autumn. There’s always something interesting happening! Page 12

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While You Are Here... We have several shows now on display at Etz Chaim, so do not miss seeing any of them when you come for minyan, Shabbos services or Onegs. From more intimate paintings to wonderful landscapes, sculptures and more, Nancy Davidson and her crew make sure that it’s all happening in the halls and on the walls. Be sure to take time to have a look next time you visit Etz Chaim. Or make a special trip just to see the art. The museum is open every day but Saturday.

Maine Jewish Museum Artist Talk with Richard Brown Lethem June 11, 2017 2pm

Afflictions

Nebraska Triangle

Fineberg Community Room

Spiegel Gallery

Maine Jewish Museum

267 Congress Street, Portland, ME 04101 (207) 773-2339 Monday - Friday 10am-2pm + Sundays 1pm - 5pm or by appointment mainejewishmuseum.org

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New Sculptures Grace Our Garden

There’s a new dimension to our garden at Etz Chaim as Antoinette Schultze, sculptor, recently installed four granite and glass sculptures, which will remain on display for two years. Nancy Davidson, the shul and Maine Jewish Museum’s art curator said, “These works will be an addition to the spiritual and meditative qualities of our beautiful garden at Etz Chaim....” and she invited the community to come by and view them before or after services or during the museum’s regular hours Mondays thru Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m.


Photos For The Bulletin By Jerry Sherry

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06 2017 etzchaim news letter  

06 2017 etzchaim news letter

06 2017 etzchaim news letter  

06 2017 etzchaim news letter

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