Welcome to Congregation Beth El

Congregation Beth El is...

a Reform Jewish community whose purpose is to create a welcoming and spiritually, socially, and geographically diverse congregation where members can explore and express Jewish religious beliefs and/or their own relationship to God; seek social, family, and cultural ties; learn together; and participate in social activism.

Rabbi
 

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Rabbi Sam Weiss

Rabbi Weiss joined Congregation Beth El in 2022. He holds a B.A. in Rhetoric from the University of California, Berkeley and was ordained as a graduate of the New York Campus of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

 

Over the course of his rabbinic training, Rabbi Weiss had the privilege of serving in a variety of educational and pastoral capacities. At the URJ Kutz Camp for teen leaders, he designed and facilitated an immersive text study experience that centered around Machloket L’shem Shamayim, the rabbinic concept of “Disagreement for the Sake of Heaven.” In New York City, he preached and prayed across denominational divides, deepening his love for and responsibility to the Jewish people in all its difference and diversity, and worked as a pastoral caregiver at a variety of interfaith settings. As a student rabbi, he served congregations in Andover, MA (Temple Emanuel), Durham, NC (Judea Reform Congregation), and Williamsport, PA (Temple Beth Ha-Sholom). During his time at HUC-JIR, Rabbi Weiss received numerous academic awards, was a Tisch Fellow, and was selected to participate in the seminarian cohort of the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.

 

Rabbi Weiss is committed to a Judaism that is at once thoughtful and heartfelt. He lives in Bangor with his wife, Erin, and their son, Milo.

Rabbi
Emerita

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Rabbi Darah Lerner

Rabbi Darah Lerner served Congregation Beth El for over 17 years, sharing her love for Judaism and a commitment to Tikkun Olam/the repair of our world. She worked daily to create a sacred community here.

Rabbi Lerner grew up in Southern California. She received her Bachelor's degree in Political Science at U.C. Berkeley and her Master's Degree in Hebrew Letters and Rabbinic Ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

Before entering the rabbinate, Rabbi Lerner worked in small business management, including video stores in the San Francisco Bay Area and a technology transfer company in Albuquerque, NM.

Rabbi Lerner's love of movies, interest in the environment,  and commitment to intra-Jewish community cooperation were evident in her sermons and throughout her work in the Bangor and Downeast Maine Jewish Community.

 

She taught at Husson University, Bangor Theological Seminary, and was a favorite of the Penobscot Senior College. 

She also served an adjunct facility at the University of Maine, teaching classes for the Judaic Studies Minor.

Rabbi Lerner is active in social justice issues, including working for marriage equality, immigration, and human rights, and supports such organizations as Food and Medicine.

She is always working to build bridges with other communities. Rabbi Lerner was active in work with the Islamic Center of Orono and other multi-faith and interfaith programs and organizations.

She continues to speak widely on Jewish issues, ethics, and diversity.

Rabbi Lerner lives in New Mexico with her wife and their dog. 

Rabbi Lerner currently serves on the Judaic Studies Advisory Committee at the University of Maine and is the President of the Wilson Center (an independent, progressive religious & spiritual voice at University of Maine.)

She previously served on the boards of the Religious Coalition Against Discrimination and the Penobscot County Fund of the Maine Community Foundation.

President
 

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Melinda Wentworth

I am Melinda Wentworth, the President of Congregation Beth El, and  I would like to welcome you to our synagogue.

Beth El is the only Reform synagogue in Maine north of Augusta, so our congregants hail from as far away as Fort Kent, Monson, MDI, Waterville, and even New Brunswick, Canada.

To contact us or for more information please email us at info@bethelbangor.org  or call us at 207-945-4578.

Vice President

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Sherri Carignan

Sherri is originally from King of Prussia, PA, where she was active in the Reform Movement spending her formative years at URJ summer camp and NFTY youth programs.
She and her husband, Mark, have been members of Congregation Beth El since 1990.
Sherri was a board member, they both taught religious school, were youth group advisors, and were very involved in the Beth El community until 1997 when they moved to the Portland area.
 
Their three children were born and raised there. While in Southern Maine, Sherri was on the executive board and taught Hebrew at Congregation Bet Ha'am in South Portland.
 
Several years ago, career opportunities in Bar Harbor presented themselves to both Sherri and Mark, which drew them back to Eastern Maine and Beth El.
 
Sherri recently earned her Master's degree in Jewish Studies from Hebrew College (2021) and continues to study modern Hebrew twice a week.
 
She believes in supporting the Maine Jewish community with time, talent and treasure.
 
This includes the donation of the piano that lives in the Beth El sanctuary, organizing and leading holiday observances on Mount Desert Island, and now joining the Beth El board.