About Us

IMG_9107(small)

Our congregation is called Etz Chaim, which means Tree of Life in Hebrew. We have a small synagogue in Biddeford, Maine, where we meet for Shabbat services, holiday parties, Hebrew school, Sunday school, potluck suppers, and many other activities.

Etz Chaim is a non-denominational synagogue which means we serve all types of Jews from orthodox to reconstructionist; some call themselves “secular” or say they are “something in between.”  This means that we offer a wide range of services and welcome everyone.

Bi-monthly Shabbat services, Bar/Bat Mitzvah services, and other religious services are lead by synagogue president, Dr. David Strassler, and his wife, cantorial student Beth Strassler.  Every autumn, a cantor from Bangor comes to lead High Holiday services.  We use a gender sensitive prayer book, Siddur Sim Shalom, with transliterated prayers so that everyone can participate in prayer and song, regardless of level of Hebrew comprehension.

Many Jewish holidays are celebrated through the Hebrew and Sunday school programs, but the whole congregation comes together to celebrate on several occasions.  We have an annual Purim Party and Megillah Reading, a Passover Model Seder, a Tu B’shvat Seder, and The Casco Bay Tummlers, a traditional klezmer band, pack the house at the family Hanukkah party.  Check out our photo album to see our past celebrations.

Etz Chaim offers Hebrew school weekly. Our students come from all around York County to learn Hebrew, Judaica, and modern Jewish history and culture. Classes are offered for students in kindergarten through our teen confirmation class. General bar/bat mitzvah preparation is included in Hebrew School, and extra tutoring for individual Torah portions can be set up with private instructors. Enrollment is always open for Hebrew School, and our Hebrew School page has more information.

Sunday school is held monthly for young children and their families.  This is a great chance for families to teach their kids about Jewish holidays and traditions, and to socialize with other families in the congregation.  Crafts, songs, activities and stories are usually part of this fun program.