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M u n joy Hil l

M u n joy Hil l

OBSERVER

OBSERVER

Non Profit Org US Postage

MHNO, 92 Congress Street, Portland, ME 04101

Change Service Requested

PAID

Portland, ME Permit No. 824

FREE Published by the Munjoy Hill Neighborhood Organization Vol. 30, No. 10 • October 2010

By Steve Hirshon For decades, Hill residents who walked downtown along Congress Street barely noticed a big, boxy building set far back from the road at the top of India Street. The building, further shrouded by a stand of tall pines, was home to a small synagogue that was getting smaller as the years rolled by. Early in the 2000s a group began the dual processes of reestablishing the synagogue and creating a cultural home for Maine’s Jewish community. The ongoing progress of that work is now visible to all as The Maine Jewish Museum at Etz Chaim (Tree of Life) Synagogue. Etz Chaim is the last example of a traditional Eastern European synagogue in a neighborhood that once housed three such buildings. From the early Twentieth Century to the mid Fifties, the area from Munjoy Hill to Pearl Street and along Franklin and Middle was home to a thriving Jewish community. As the population moved to neighborhoods off the peninsula and

later to the suburbs, institutions moved away, stores closed and the vibrancy of community life dissipated. The Maine Jewish Museum honors that vibrancy, not only of this community, but of the many other Jewish communities around Maine. The Museum has been extremely fortunate to receive several major gifts which sparked its restoration. A beautiful stained glass window, once covered by brick, has been restored and may now be viewed from the street. A balcony that was hidden by a dropceiling has been uncovered. Almost miraculously, chandeliers and lighting, dark for almost 50 years, came to life with a thrown switch. New floors and windows and restored stairways have renewed the building’s faded beauty. An effort to raise funds for a major landscaping project is well underway. The Maine Jewish Museum has recently mounted its first exhibits. On the main floor is an exhibit of photo portraits: Soul Survivors. It’s an exhibit of Maine

The front of the Etz Chaim Synagogue on a sunny September morning, as seen from Congress Street. Photo by Lisa Peñalver

Holocaust survivors by photographer Jack Montgomery. Along with the photo exhibit is a video with interviews of survivors telling their stories. The balcony is home to the exhibit Maine + Jewish, a six panel display that tells the story of how Maine’s Jewish community came here and established lives, livelihoods, and communities. There are interactive

kiosks on the third floor as well. The exhibit was curated by Amy Waterman and was developed with the help of Documenting Maine Jewry (www.mainejews. org.), a virtual museum and history-gathering site. Cultural programming is expected to be a mainstay of the museum. In addition to live events, the museum has two large flat panel

Meet the New Senior Lead Officer

Officer Stephen Black by Janine Kaserman Munjoy Hill residents will soon be seeing a familiar face in the neighborhood. Officer Stephen Black will be taking on the role of Senior Lead Officer in the community, walking the beat on the Hill.

The Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad has scheduled a special haunted train ride. Halloween trains will run Oct 30 & 31 (at 5, 6 & 7 p.m.). The MHNO is partnering with the MNGRR to present the annual Ghost Train. Family-friendly, and small prizes for best costumes. For more information, tickets or to volunteer, call the Narrow Gauge at 828-0814, or see www.mngrr.org/specialevents.html

This is not new territory for Officer Black, who has spent most of his career serving the neighborhoods of Munjoy Hill and Kennedy Park. He first came to the Portland Police Department in January of 2000. Officer Black had been assigned to the Patrol Division, where he served on various teams. Then, in the fall of 2006, he was assigned to Portland High School as the School Resource Officer. It soon became evident that, for Officer Black, the police motto, “To Protect and Serve” is much more than just a slogan. For Officer Black, it’s a personal mission. Officer Black’s dedication to the community has not gone unnoticed. OfSee page 10, Officer Black

Remembering Jackie Lipps By Liz MacMahon Munjoy Hill native Jackie Lipps died unexpectedly on Tuesday, September 7, 2010, at her home. A funeral service was held on September 13th, officiated by Pastor John Balicki of Grace Church. She will be hugely missed by her family and friends, as well as folks from the many organizations she participated in. Jackie volunteered at the Community Television Network and was President

of the Washington Square Homeowners Association. Jackie was a great customer and friend of Longfellow Books, where they would have a stack of advance copy books to give her every time she came in. Jackie read voraciously, and especially loved mystery novels. A particular favorite of hers, Irish author John Connolly, appreciated her enthuSee page 10, JackiE Lipps

Above, Jackie Lipps with children on a fall field trip in 2007. Photo courtesy of the Lipps family.

displays to broadcast events and programs from New York’s 92nd Street Y and other institutions. Gary Berenson is the Executive Director of the museum. The museum is in the process of training docents and establishing regular hours. Until then, please contact Mr. Berenson at Gary@treeoflifemuseum.org to arrange for tours and visits.

North Star Music Café Closes The popular East End café and performing arts venue, the North Star Music Cafe, closed its doors for the last time at the end of September. Citing insurmountable financial challenges, owner Kim Anderson bid a reluctant farewell to loyal followers on Facebook on Sept. 16. Though only 3 years old, the North Star was known along the East Coast as the place to visit in Portland for a taste of the local music scene. It will be missed.

October 2010 - Munjoy HIll Observer  

The October 2010 Munjoy HIll Observer provided by the MHNO

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