Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Call for Support

Beth Israel Congregation, like so many other small congregations in America, is working hard to survive and thrive as the home of Conservative Judaism in Central Maine.

I have written the following letter to raise money for new mahzorim (high holiday prayer books) for our congregation. It will be mailed out to members soon, but I wanted to put it online for other supporters to help us achieve our vision.

Here is the text of the letter: If you click here, you can print an order form and a hard copy of the letter:

July 18, 2011/ 16 Tammuz 5771


Dear Beth Israel Community:

This past Shabbat, I was granted the great honor of beginning my tenure as rabbi of Beth Israel Congregation. It is with great joy that I look forward to sharing many more shabbatot with our community, and it is with great anticipation that I look toward the approaching High Holidays. Over the past few months, I have been brainstorming with many members of the community regarding how to best serve Beth Israel Congregation and how to modernize, invigorate, and update our learning and prayer services.

One of the steps that we must take as a community is purchasing new mahzorim, High Holiday prayer books. Our current books do not include transliteration, compelling English readings, or relatable translations of liturgy. Unfortunately, they do not allow us to provide accessible services to the majority of our congregation.

Thankfully, there is a new, beautiful prayer book published by the Conservative movement that includes all of these missing elements. You can preview the style and content of this mahzor, named Lev Shalem (A Complete Heart) at http://www.rabbinicalassembly.org/mahzor/Sample.html. I have spoken to several rabbis and congregants around the country about this book, and it has garnered praise from all corners of the Conservative movement. With this book, we can send a message to the greater Central Maine Jewish community that the services we provide speak to our time and our needs.

As the rabbi of this community, I feel passionately about conveying the following statement to every person who walks through our front door on the High Holidays: we are a vibrant community committed to holiness, community, and connection. Purchasing these new books is one essential step in communicating those values at the beginning of a momentous year.

Please consider donating to the congregation for the purchase of these books, either for your family’s use or in honor of someone who has been a cherished individual in your life. We will include a bookplate as an acknowledgment of your generosity and commitment. Each book, including shipping and handling, costs $29.00. With a bookplate, the congregation is asking for a $36.00 donation. Donations can be made for the full or partial cost of each book, depending on what your family can afford. Each donation is valuable and appreciated.

Please feel free to be in contact with any questions, concerns, or suggestions at risaacs@colby.edu.

B’vracha (with blessing),



Rabbi Rachel M. Isaacs