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Community Hanukah Celebration

The Jewish holiday of Hanukah, also known as the Festival of Lights, will begin on Sunday evening, November 28, at sundown.  Hanukah has become a beloved and joyous holiday that celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem after its desecration in 164 BCE.  The Maccabees, led by Judah, were the first Jews who fought to defend their religious beliefs. Following the struggle to regain the Holy Temple a great miracle happened when the oil to light the lamp that had only enough oil to burn for one day miraculously burned for eight days, thus establishing the precedent for the eight-day festival. 

Today Hanukah is celebrated in homes around the world by the lighting of the menorah, a nine-branched candelabrum that holds a primary candle, the shamash, that is used to light an additional candle for each night until the final night when the menorah glows brightly with all eight candles and the shamash.  As the candles are being lit, blessings are chanted before and during the process.  Many families will light their menorah by a window to share the spirit and glow of the festival.  Aside from lighting the menorah, other Hanukah celebrations have emerged over the years.  In the shtetls of Eastern Europe children were given Hanukah gelt (coins) as a special treat, but real coins have been replaced by chocolate coins, wrapped in gold or silver foil, and brightly wrapped presents which are often given each night of the holiday.  In many homes, playing the game of dreidel, a spinning top that is inscribed with the Hebrew letters that represent the Hanukkah theme, “a great miracle happened there,” may be part of the nightly ritual after lighting the menorah.  

As with every Jewish holiday, there are traditional Hanukah foods that have special meaning to this festival as they are cooked in oil.  The most notable are the potato latkes (pancakes), fried in batches and served with applesauce or sour cream.  The custom of eating sufganiyot, a jelly-filled donut, has emerged from the Israeli tradition where these delicacies are fried in oil. Whether indulging in latkes, sufganiyot, or fried mozzarella sticks, the importance of celebrating with fried food is recognizing what occurred in the past and honoring this joyous holiday today.

Temple B’nai Israel will host a ZOOM community Hanukah celebration on Saturday, December 4, 2021.  Each household will light their menorah and chant the Hanukkah blessings in their home.  The Religious School children will lead the singing of traditional Hanukah songs followed by a game of Trivia and a Hanukkah scavenger hunt.  Zoom link will be available upon request with RSVPs.

Everyone is encouraged to share why their menorah may have special meaning.  Do you light a menorah that has been handed down through generations?  Maybe you have a sentimental menorah that was made by children who are grown now.   If there are stories to be told, please share yours when sending your RSVP to

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We Care Presents a Check to The Bridge House And an Immediate Need is Funded

A successful and well attended We Care concert was held on October 23 raising $24,000 for The Bridge House of Plymouth.  Members of Temple B’nai Israel, Karen Lukeman, Barbara Katz, and Suzanne Appleton, presented a check in the amount of $8,435.00 to Cathy Bentwood, Executive Director of The Bridge House.  The check represents the net proceeds from ticket sales and donations from major event sponsors Audi Nashua and Miracle Farms Landscaping.  Additional funds for the Bridge House came from these event sponsors – The Bank of New Hampshire, Pemi River Fuels, Hannaford, Brand Elevation Co., Chicken Shack, Yamas Greek Eatery, Dragon Financial Services, Gold Pizza House, Dunkin’ and Walmart.  The We Care concert series gives local nonprofits and businesses the opportunity to come together to form mutually beneficial partnerships as well as bringing awareness to the public of their individual mission, services, and products.  

Left to right:

Karen Lukeman, Brian F. holding check in front (Veteran, USAF), David D., behind Brian (Veteran, US Navy), Cathy Bentwood, Barbara Katz, Suzanne Appleton

Fundraising events such as this allow The Bridge House to provide financial assistance to those who may find themselves suddenly caught short, such as Veteran Joe K. (US ARMY – Vietnam) who called the Bridge House with a dire request, “I just found out I have to replace the engine in my pickup – it’s going to cost $4760! I don’t have that.  Will you cosign a loan?”  Cathy Bentwood was eager to help, especially since she knew that Joe had just spent quite a bit of money treating one of his two dogs.  Cathy realized Joe was the perfect candidate to receive a loan from the Bridge House’s dedicated Veterans’ fund, especially since the recent We Care fundraiser had helped to replenish the fund.   An arrangement was made at the local branch of The Bank of New Hampshire for Joe to receive the money needed to repair his truck.  But Joe was adamant about repaying the loan, so at the same time a direct deposit of $500 monthly repayment was created from Joe’s account to The Bridge House’s account until the loan is paid.  What Joe didn’t know is that the repayment was readjusted to $3700.  This is the kind of help that Bridge House provides on a regular basis, and it seemed “the least Bridge House could do for a Veteran” according to Cathy Bentwood. 

Ken with his dogs Athena & Blue

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2021 JFNH Shem Tov Award

Naomi and Mark Goldman

Naomi and Mark joined TBI in 2006. Mark joined the board that same year and Naomi followed by joining our board in 2009. Mark has served as an officer and Financial Secretary since 2009, expertly handling our member dues tracking and serving on the Finance Committee. Naomi has served on the Ritual Committee, Membership Committee, chaired the Holiday Committee, did a lot of work with our Fundraising/WeCare Committee, and is especially famous for her strudels at the Food Festival! Naomi’s Holiday Committee has put on many fun programs including Israeli dancing, wine and olive oil tastings, Purim Shpiels, art auctions, and many delicious meals in our social hall.

Naomi and Mark are originally in Washington Heights in New York City. They lived in Massachusetts for 20 years and then moved to Connecticut for 20 years, finally retiring at their second home in Alexandria on Newfound Lake. Mark worked with microwave devices for the communications industry. Naomi was a full-day Kindergarten and Elementary School Teacher, starting at Hanscom Field in Lincoln MA, followed by a stint with a Solomon Schechter Day School. They have two daughters, Deborah and have 3 grandchildren ranging from 11-17, and Rebecca and 2 grandchildren, ages15 and 19.

Their dedication to Temple B’nai Israel has been exemplary and they are most deserving of this Shem Tov Award as they truly represent the best of TBI!

The award will be presented by JFNH Board Member Harry Shepler at our Shabbat service on Friday, November 19, 2021. Mazel tov to Naomi and Mark!

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The Salvation Army Lunch Program

Practicing Tikkun Olam in the Lakes Region

Temple B’nai Israel takes pride in giving members the opportunity to not only “be” Jewish, but to “do” Jewish through our Social Action Committee and the Salvation Army “Friendly Kitchen” lunch program that helps those facing food insecurity for themselves and their families.  The staff of the Salvation Army and/or volunteers prepare lunch in their kitchen six days a week.  The lunch program is supported by many Lakes Region religious and civic organizations who provide and serve a hot lunch about once a month.   Generally, there are 30-40 people served, however, during the pandemic as the need increased, lunches were packed in to-go containers for the clients to take with them.  Last month they returned to serving sit-down meals.  If there is anything not consumed at lunch, it is served at the Carey House, a residential home run by the Salvation Army, that evening.

The TBI Social Action Committee Salvation Army lunch program is currently co-chaired by Rhoda Goodman and Lois Kessin and all the food is supplied by the temple.  Rhoda and Lois shop, prepare, and deliver nutritious and tasty meals once a month.  A meal generally consists of a protein with vegetables and rice or other carbohydrate and varies from month to month.  There are the standards like Shepherd’s pie, baked chicken, spaghetti and meat sauce, Sloppy Joes, a hearty chicken, vegetable, and rice stew, and during the summer, tuna fish and egg salad sandwiches.  Desserts are always included – fruit, brownies, or other homemade baked goods from temple volunteers. 

Sometimes an unexpected menu opportunity pops up such as a blintze souffle that was prepared with the homemade blintzes from the Jewish Food Festival.  A salad was added to round out the meal.   Last month in celebration of Sukkot, the religious school students, teachers, parents, and Rabbi Dan Danson went to glean vegetables in the fields at Greens and Beans Farm in Gilford as part of a Tikkun Olam project and learning experience.   The gleanings were cooked with chicken into a hearty vegetable and chicken soup that will be served with salad, corn muffins and brownies for dessert.

Rhoda Goodman has been an integral part of the lunch program for more than three years and enjoys the process and the results.  “It is our pleasure to be involved with providing meals for those in need.  The clients are very grateful to TBI.  They always thank us in their prayers before the meal and as they are served.” 

Temple B’nai Israel looks forward to the post-pandemic days when TBI volunteers can return to serving the meals that are prepared in the TBI kitchen to the Salvation Army clients.  A meal is more than just food, it’s community for a senior that would otherwise be shut-in or a sense of normalcy for a family that lost their home.  TBI is proud to help The Salvation Army in its mission to fill empty stomachs and empty hearts.


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Let There Be Light

Laconia, November 9, 2021 – Eighty-three years after the “The Night of Broken Glass,” also known as Kristallnacht, Temple B’nai Israel joined in a global campaign to unite in solidarity against antisemitism, racism, hatred, and intolerance by keeping the lights on from sundown to sunup.  “Let There Be Light” was launched in 2020 by the International March of the Living, an annual educational program, bringing individuals from around the world to Poland and Israel to study the history of the Holocaust and to examine the roots of prejudice, intolerance, and hatred.  Since its inception in 1988, more than 260,000 alumni from 52 countries have marched down the same 3-kilometer path leading from Auschwitz to Birkenau on Holocaust Remembrance Day – Yom Hashoah – as a tribute to all victims of the Holocaust.  The “Let There Be Light” initiative has reached millions around the world, brought together over 700 Houses of Worship of all faiths and institutions and partners from over 75 countries; and has been featured in over 120 news outlets worldwide.  The message of spreading light over the darkness of hate was displayed on the façade of the Coventry Cathedral in the United Kingdom and on the walls of the Old City in Jerusalem.  

The Holocaust is not just a Jewish issue it is a universal issue.  We must learn from the past, so that a more tolerant and just society will evolve for the betterment of all humankind.

David Machlis Ph.D, Adelphi University and Vice Chairman of the International March of the Living

As the sun set in Laconia a group of temple members and community leaders including newly re-elected mayor, Andrew Hosmer, and city councilman from Ward 4, Mark Haynes, gathered on the front steps of the temple on Court Street to commemorate the events of November 9, 1938, when violent anti-Jewish demonstrations broke out across Germany, Austria, and the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia.  Nazi officials depicted the riots as justified reactions to the assassination of German foreign official Ernst vom Rath, who had been shot two days earlier by Herschel Grynszpan, a 17-year-old Polish Jew distraught over the deportation of his family from Germany.

Over the next 48 hours, violent mobs, spurred by antisemitic exhortations from Nazi officials, destroyed hundreds of synagogues, burning or desecrating Jewish religious artifacts along the way.  Acting on orders from Gestapo headquarters, police officers and firefighters did nothing to prevent the destruction.  All told, approximately 7,500 Jewish-owned businesses, homes, and schools were plundered, and 91 Jews were murdered.  An additional 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and sent to concentration camps.  Nazi officials immediately claimed that the Jews themselves were to blame for the riots, and a fine of one billion reichsmarks (about $400 million at 1938 rates) was imposed on the German Jewish community.

The Nazis came to call the event Kristallnacht (“Crystal Night,” or, “The Night of Broken Glass”), referring to the thousands of shattered windows that littered the streets afterwards, but the euphemism does not convey the full brutality of the event.  Kristallnacht was a turning point in the history of the Third Reich, marking the shift from antisemitic rhetoric and legislation to the violent, aggressive anti-Jewish measures that would culminate with the Holocaust.

The lights were shining from every window inside Temple B’nai Israel as the brief ceremony began with a reading of Martin Niemöller’s poignant poem, “The Quotation.”  Niemöller was a prominent Lutheran pastor in Germany.  He emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.  He is perhaps best remembered for these postwar words that were read by temple member Lois Kessin:

Following Lois, Barbara Katz, a member of the Board of Directors of Temple B’nai Israel, recited a poem selected by TBI Rabbi, Dan Danson:

Because the world has still not learned the lessons of the past and attacks on Houses of Worship of all faiths continuously occur, time and time again, it is vital to keep the lights on and illuminate the cause of righteousness and justice.