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

- Isaiah 56:7



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Temple B'nai Israel in Laconia celebrates 20 years of the Jewish Food Festival

Irene Come celebrate the 20th anniversary of New Hampshire's premier Jewish Food Festival. Since 1997, Temple B'nai Israel chefs have created delectable delights based on recipes that go back generations. You don't have to be a member of TBI, you don't even have to be Jewish, all you need to be is someone who loves good home cooked Jewish foods. The Food Festival continued to grow and evolve over the last twenty years to the spectacle "under the tent" that has been enjoyed by thousands.

Each year TBI searches to find ways to improve the customer experience. Layouts and processes have been streamlined and improved to provide quicker and better service. The best NY style deli in New England was found in Marblehead, MA and Evan's Deli corned beef, pastrami, and tongue has been added to the sandwich station along with TBI's mouthwatering homemade beef brisket sandwiches. There will be cheese blintzes cooked on the spot, meat and potato knishes hot and ready to eat, freshly made chopped herring and chopped liver and deli barrel half sour pickles. Potato latkes, stuffed cabbage, kugel, and matzo ball soup will be prepacked and frozen for takeout. All food stations will remain open as long as supplies last, which has not taken more than two hours in recent years. Don't forget to visit the expansive dessert buffet loaded with homemade specialties such as strudel, rugelach, and other mouthwatering delights.

On Sunday, July 9th from 11:00 AM - 2:00 PM. at Temple B'nai Israel, 210 Court St. in Laconia people will be coming together from all over New Hampshire and beyond to enjoy the memories of the tastes and smells from the kitchens of Jewish mothers and Bubbies (grandmothers) through the ages...from traditional Jewish cooking to delicatessen delights to amazing desserts and more! There will be a huge array of authentic textures and tastes:

There will also be treasures to buy at the Nearly New Boutique, loaded with hundreds of super finds for the shopper with a keen eye. Come for brunch, come for lunch, come to browse and nibble on a treat. It's going to be a memorable day at Temple B'nai Israel.

We Care supports local community nonprofits, who might not have their own resources for fundraising or be constrained by financial and human resources to do more than they currently complete. In 2016, two new components of this fundraising effort were introduced. The first was the inclusion of an event sponsor. Last year Golden View Health Center became the first We Care event sponsor and its contribution to the two entertainment events had significant impact on the profitability of each event. In addition, a virtual sing off was introduced for the fall event and that also made a significant financial contribution to the nonprofit checks that were gleaned from the fall concert

One 2017 act has been secured and the second one is still being investigated. The board of trustees has approved both nonprofit partners for 2017. They are Camp Resilience, providing services to wounded warriors located in Gilford. Their event will be held on May 27th during Memorial Day weekend. The second beneficiary is Belknap House, a cold weather family shelter opening its doors this winter and located next door to the temple. Their event will take place on October 21st. Both entertainment events will be held in the newly remodeled Meredith Community Auditorium at the Interlakes High School in Meredith. Sandwiched between the two entertainment events is the Jewish Food Festival.

2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the TBI Jewish Food Festival. Key changes implemented in 2016 will be carried forward and enhanced in 2017. The emphasis on preordering, the reduced menu items served, increased take out offering, improved meat supplier, cooking coordinator and cooking team concept are all planned to continue into 2017 in addition to the improvements made over the previous years. The team has already commenced the planning for this special anniversary. Cooking starts soon.

Save these dates!

April 30th - June 3rd - Pre-ordering for the 20th annual Food Festival - don't take a chance your favorite food will be sold out and pre-order for pick-up. All preorders will be 100% guaranteed.

May 27th - Entertainment event for the benefit of Camp Resilience- Entertainment- Jay Gates impersonates Rod Stewart and Barry Manilow

July 9th - Twentieth Annual Jewish Food Festival- come join the celebration of the best Jewish Food in the Lakes Region

October 21st - Entertainment event for the Benefit of Belknap House- Entertainment-to be announced

June 2 2017

In exactly 8 days I will walk up onto a stage, receive a slip of paper, and leave my high school class behind forever. I've been with most of them for 13 whole years and a student in the Gilford School District for 14 (I didn't quite get Kindergarten the first time). Over the course of that near decade and a half, my peers and I have established and built upon our own unique identities as human beings. We have forged relationships, learned about ourselves and the world around us, and developed into young people more or less ready to embark onto greater things.

For me, a significant part of this ever evolving identity has always been my status as a Jew. There have been times that have made me feel important and special like those in elementary school when I have taught my classmates about the significance of High Holidays or how to properly spin a Dreidel and others that are not so nice. Like having unfair stereotypes pointed out in the way that only cruel middle school cliques can. I have both connected with and felt unstoppably supported by the community at TBI and experienced sensations of helplessness and devastation when I have learned of the bitter hardships faced by countless men and women for the sole reason that they identify as a Jew. I understand how a scapegoat works and have felt jealously like any other human being but I will never comprehend how one person can hate another so deeply on the basis of religious belief.

Personally, I value diversity and think being Jewish is kinda great. I mean, we literally have a holiday dedicated to frying things in oil and gambling and there is no such thing as a gathering of Jews without delicious food. Our culture has survived for millennia, producing some of the greatest intellectual and humanitarian minds that the world has ever seen. Next time you sit down for a Passover Seder, try to remember that Louis Brandeis, Albert Einstein, Sandy Koufax, and Jesus all made it through the whole thing so you can too. I did a little reading online and according to Forbes, you are a more than 100x more likely to become a billionaire if you are Jewish. We only make up .2% of the worlds population but take up an unprecedentedly large portion of its history.

Being Jewish comes with high standards but I hardly feel any pressure. Sure, I want to succeed, but after a few long years in hebrew school, I now know that that can be taken a few different ways. The only real guidelines are those of morality given to us by the Torah and through study of Jewish tradition. Basically as long as you adhere to justice and are a good person, you're in the clear.

Overall, I am very proud of my Jewish heritage and thankful that I grew up so close to a synagogue. Temple B'nai Israel truly is an oasis in the cultural desert that is northern New England. Sure, we may not be the most traditional or observant synagogue, but I wouldn't want it any other way. The members of this temple have taught me right from wrong, to fight for the good in this world, and most importantly, how to be a Jew. I feel empathy for my fellow man regardless of his culture and will never be a bystander as I know how that can end. From the first time I walked through the front door I have never ceased to be reminded of how much people can accomplish when they treat each other with love and respect. To the younger members of the congregation who have not yet been bar or bat mitzvah'd I say that it is 100% worth it and to keep coming to Hebrew school and Friday night services. Judaism is part of you and nothing but good can come from it.

I would like to say thank you to my various teachers, tutors, rabbi and all of you at TBI who have made the past years of my life special for one reason or another. I appreciate it more than you could ever know.

Sermon For Shabbat "Bo" 5777 - February 3, 2017 - Rabbi Boaz D. Heilman

The Exodus is one of the most breathtaking stories in the entire Torah. Visually spectacular, it is also intensely dramatic, so much so that it has been turned into opera, several Hollywood movies, and at least one musical.

But aside from that, this story really has many important lessons for us even today, more than 3000 years after the events it recounts took place.

Here are some of the lessons I got from it.

First, I learned how easy it is for people to forget-or at least not to learn from-their own history. "A new Pharaoh arose,"the Torah says; one that "knew not Joseph; who forgot how Joseph had, not too long ago, saved all Egypt from a devastating famine; how, instead, he helped Egypt turn into a world power; and how, along the way, he enriched Pharaoh's own, private coffers. Forgetting all these contributions, Pharaoh in return, turns the Jews into slaves, persecutes them and ultimately even resorts to genocide. Pharaoh commands that all male Jewish babies be thrown into the Nile River.

Secondly, I learned about heroism. Despite the harsh decrees and cruel oppression, the Jewish People refused to give up. Encouraged by teachers and visionaries like Moses, Aaron and Miriam, the Jews struggled under their burden, yet heroically they held on to their faith, never losing hope that God would eventually redeem them and lead them back to their own land, the Promised Land.

We often think of heroes as men, but in the Exodus story women take their rightful place among the saviors of our people. There were the midwives, Shifra and Puah, who proudly resisted Pharaoh and refused to obey his orders, which they saw as unjust, cruel and inhumane. Then there were also the ones who acted in secret, such as Yocheved, Moses's mother, who took pity on her child and refused to hand him over to the assassins. There was Miriam, who watched as her baby brother was put in a tiny basket and allowed to drift among the reeds that lined the shores of the Nile River. And there was, of course, the Daughter of Pharaoh, who openly flouted her father's orders, rescued the baby from the water, and raised him as her own.

Reading between the lines, I understood that there must have been an Underground Railroad, a secret, hidden passageway meant to save Jewish babies; and that Miriam, her mother Yocheved, and even Pharaoh's daughter were probably part of this secret, sacred alliance. read more


The Opposite of Slavery - By Rabbi Boaz D. Heilman

Today was an historical day. This day saw the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States. This is an impressive record, a testament to the strength of this nation. The idea of a freely elected, democratic government "of the people, by the people, for the people," is a relatively modern concept. It certainly isn't the model that many other other peoples and nations enjoy. But in the United States, our democracy has proven both strong and lasting. Despite those few momentous and tragic events when a President of the United States was assassinated while in office, overall, for the past two centuries and more, we have been fortunate to have a peaceful transition of administrations.

The people of the United States have benefitted greatly from this system of governance. On the whole, we have seen steady-if gradual-economic, medical and social progress. We have benefitted from ever-greater freedoms of expression, religion, gender and life-style choices.

But whereas transitions were peaceful, elections have rarely been that. While some may view the 2016 Presidential election as a landmark of incivility (and perhaps it was), elections are often set against a background of change and upheaval, and sometimes even war-among ourselves or with other countries.

The United States has never been a homogeneous people. While we have gained much from the influx of a great number and variety of nations, religions and races, integrating the many into one whole has never been a simple task. Tensions and even hatred between groups have always existed, occasionally erupting into violence. We are constantly seeking to define ourselves, to determine what makes us Americans, to find that common denominator that makes us one people, one nation.

Today, however, is not a time to explore our differences. Rather, today we must celebrate our unity. read more

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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