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‘For my house shall be called a house
of prayer for all peoples.’

- Isaiah 56:7

 
Temple B'nai Israel

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12/16/16 - By By Rabbi Boaz D. Heilman

In just about a week, we will be lighting the first candle of Hanukkah. It's a beautiful holiday, filled with glowing lights, songs, delicious foods and family traditions. Yet maybe because of its commercialization, or perhaps because of the repetitious nature of the ceremony over eight days, sometimes we forget to see the fuller meaning of Hanukkah.

The Talmud's explanation of the holiday begins with the famous words, "Mai Chanukah," "What is Hanukkah."" Perhaps it should start instead with mah nishtana Chanukah-why is this holiday different from all other holidays. Of all the Jewish holidays, Hanukkah actually has the most variations-not only in its many customs, but also in the number of different stories that became interwoven, resulting in the holiday as we know it today.

The purpose of Chanukah is simple: To recall the victories of the few against the many and the miraculous survival of our faith and people, despite the many obstacles that at times seem to overwhelm us.

Yet even the two names by which the holiday is known-Hanukkah and Chag ha-Urim, the Festival of Lights, reflect several sources.

Unlike most of our other holidays, Hanukkah is not mandated in the Torah. In the middle of the 3rd century BCE, about 250 years after the Torah was sealed, the Kingdom of Judah became part of the Greek Empire. It was a peaceful takeover; but less than a hundred years later, tyrannical rulers, competition among rival priestly factions, and strife among the Judean aristocracy, evolved into a full-fledged rebellion against the Greeks.

As the popular summary of all Jewish holidays has it, they tried to kill us, they lost, let's eat! That pretty much characterizes Chanukah, too, but of course things are never as simple as they seem. As with many other oppressors, the Greeks weren't interested only in our physical destruction. They took aim at our religion, which they saw as barbaric and unenlightened. They forbade the study and teaching of Hebrew and the observance of our most important rituals: Shabbat, Rosh Chodesh (essentially, our calendar with all its holidays) and circumcision...read more


11/18/16 - A Sermon for Shabbat Vayeira - By By Rabbi Boaz D. Heilman

In our Scriptural readings from the Torah, this week we find ourselves studying the story of Abraham, the first patriarch of the Jewish People and also the father of the three Abrahamic religions-Judaism, Christianity and Islam. I find it interesting-and hopeful, especially in these troubled times in America and the world-that we all share this one forebear, that no matter how different our faiths may be, we all find in Abraham a common source of teaching and inspiration.

When we first encountered Abraham, he was picking up the pieces of his life. At the age of 75, Abraham was uprooting. Called by God, he was leaving behind his family, homeland and people, in search of something vague, a place he knew existed, but that he knew not where. All he knew was that God would tell him when he got there.

It couldn't have been easy for Abraham to undertake this journey. He was getting on in years; he knew that chances were that he would never see his family again. The Chaldeans-the people he was leaving behind-were among the most advanced civilizations in the world at that time. And what was he doing? He was leaving for the Wild, Wild West, a lawless place inhabited by people whose language, customs and ways he did not know.

So why did he leave? At age 75, probably not for fun or profit. He was already rich, successful and established. So why now?

He left because he felt himself endangered.

Abraham was different from his fellow Chaldeans, and times were getting dangerous for people like him, who shared his world views, and particularly his religion. As Abraham saw it, the gods that most people around him worshipped were mere idols, make-believe creatures whose main characteristics were that they were lazy, quarrelsome, jealous and ill-tempered, and that the best way to deal with them was essentially to appease them with wine and sacrifice, and pray that they would leave you alone, like wild animals after feeding time at the zoo....read more


Come celebrate Hanukkah with the congregation on Saturday, December 17, as we fill our temple with song, candlelight and prayer.

  • 5:30 Candle lighting Please bring your menorah and candles.

  • 6:00 Dinner The holiday committee will prepare the main meat portion of the meal. Please bring a dozen of your favorite latkes, a salad, side dish or dessert to share.

  • 7:00 Movie Rabbi Heilman will show a short film entitled LIGHTS followed by a brief discussion.

Hope to share an early Hanukkah with you on Dec, 17th. Please RSVP to Naomi Goldman


Temple B'nai Israel

Purim 2016

March 18, 2016 - On Friday, March 18, TBI held a Shabbat Yeladim (children's service) for a kids' version of the reading of the story of Queen Esther and Purim..

The following Sunday, there was a presentation of "Purim: The Spiel," a Purim skit written by Rabbi Heilman and presented by the Off Off Union Avenue Players! A Purim carnival followed, with fun and games for the entire family.

Photos capture the fun that lasted the whole weekend long!


March 1, 2016 - An imaginative approach to joint charitable fund raising has emerged from the root of the WE CARE program, sponsored by Temple B’nai Israel in Laconia. This year, ticket sales for two musical productions will go to selected social services that will also benefit from working with each other and garnering the joint public awareness of the critical community work these organizations perform. Temple B’nai Israel President Marsha Ostroff reports that the WE CARE program, begun just two years ago, has already donated in excess of $10,000 to local nonprofit organizations.

Find out more about our nonprofit partners for 2016...

From left: Ken Goodman (TBI), Barbara Katz (TBI), Jill Lieberman (TBI), Kristen Welch (Genesis Behavioral Health), Joanne Lang (Lakes Region Community Services), Marsha Ostroff (TBI President), Aileen Castillo (New Beginnings), Stu Needleman (TBI), Meg Kennedy Dugan (Voices Against Violence)


Planting parsley for Tu B'Shevat.

Saturday, January 23, 2016 - More than 20 hardy souls gathered at beautiful Prescott Farm to celebrate Tu B'shevat: the New Year of the Trees.

Despite chilly temperatures, all were warmed by our wonderful and knowledgeable guide Will, who taught us how to identify tracks and pointed out interesting sights. More importantly we had the pleasure of spending Shabbat together in nature and reconvening back at the Chertok Social Hall for snacks followed by a meaningful seder led by Rabbi Boaz Heilman.

This year our religious school students have revamped our Tu Bishevat haggadah with illustrations and their own wisdom. Many participants happily kept their haggadah as a souvenir of a lovely day.

The seder was followed by a pot luck meal and Adult Learning Movie Night featuring Nancy Speilberg's film "Above and Beyond." This film documents the story of a group of World War II pilots who volunteered to fight for Israel in the War of Independence and helped in the process of developing Israel's Air Force. The movie was moving and educational. Rabbi Heilman shared his feelings about his military service, and a lively discussion followed..

Snowshoeing at Prescott Park in celebration of Tu B'Shevat.


FRIDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2015 - Tonight was a she'hechiyanu moment for TBI families: It was our first (of many to come!) Tot Shabbat service led by Rabbi Heilman and our cantorial soloist, Melody Funk.

The two created an incredibly beautiful community amongst the parents and children, engaging families in prayer, learning and spiritual enrichment.

The prayer service was followed by dinner and playtime for all to rejoice in Shabbat together!

Temple B'nai Israel

Just a few of the friendly faces at Tot Shabbat on Friday, December 18!


Saturday, December 5, 2015 - Our thanks to the Jewish Federation of New Hampshire for bringing informal educator Mark Lazar to New Hampshire and allowing him to share an afternoon with us at TBI!

Mark is a native of Southern California who made aliyah in 1993 after a colorful coming of age in the late 60s and early 70s. His discussion of Zionism in the 21st Century was lively and engaging, and allowed each participant to examine their own feelings about Zionism and Israel's place in the world.

Temple B'nai Israel

Mark Lazar from the Jewish Federation of N.H. leads the discussion at an Adult Education gathering.


November 13, 2015 - Rabbi Boaz Heilman's officially installation foretold the coming years of rich interaction among young and old in our temple. Every part of the evening was filled with tradition and meaning. We joyously celebrated his arrival in our midst.

The tone of the evening was set at an installation dinner for one hundred people, temple members, community clergy and leaders of community social services. Collectively, members provided a sumptuous dinner, with a post-service Oneg that included a surprise birthday cake for Rabbi Heilman.

Highlights of the service began with a religious school offering... Read more...

Rabbi Heilman Installation - Friday November 13, 2015

Rabbi Heilman was officially installed on Friday, November 13, 2015.


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