We are a non-profit organization of Jewish community members that is concerned about the worsening state of our area’s Jewish cemeteries. By refurbishing these historic sites, we aim to revitalize the memory of those past and honor their contributions to our Jewish heritage.
It is our mission to honor our buried forebears in accordance with Jewish tradition, beliefs, and practices.
Rabbi Gary Berenson / Steve Brinn / Karen Lerman / George Marcus / Sam Novick / Sherri Quint / Marshall Tinkle
Southern Maine Jewish Cemetery Association is an independent charitable organization unaffiliated with any synagogue and is managed by volunteers. SMJCA is 501(c)13 non-profit organization and donations to our organization are tax-deductible.
After growing up in Portland and attending Portland Hebrew Day School and Deering High School, Gary attended Northeastern University in Boston. He transferred 2 years later back to University of Maine to be able to help with his father's business. Gary began volunteering in synagogue positions at an early age. He was a VP at Shaarey Tphiloh Synagogue in 1975 and President of their brotherhood in 1977. He moved to California and served as VP of Temple Beth Abraham in Oakland, CA in 1979. After returning to his family's business in Maine, Gary assumed the responsibilities of being the lay leader of all services at Etz Chaim Synagogue in 1986. He was elected President of Etz Chaim Synagogue in 2002. In 2009, Gary and a few talented community leaders came together to create Maine Jewish Museum; Maine's only museum dedicated to highlighting Maine's Jewish Art, History and Culture. He became the first Executive Director of the museum and served in that capacity until 2014, while working at the same time to earn Rabbinic Ordination from Rabbinic Seminary International in New York. Other interests included serving as President of Rotary Club in South Portland/Cape Elizabeth, VP of Brotherhood Masonic Lodge, VP of Royal Guards at Kora Shrine, Managing Director of Mt. Sinai Cemetery, and Funeral Director and Administrator at Portland Jewish Funeral Home. He has 2 children and 2 grandchildren and lives in Cape Elizabeth with his wife, Sindee.
As part of her volunteer duties with Southern Maine Jewish Cemetery Association, Sherri handles the day to day operations for the cemeteries, selling plots, coordinating burials, works with the landscaping team as well as taking care of our accounting needs and cemetery recordkeeping. In addition, she manages our website and Facebook page.
Sherri has been working for Temple Beth El for 11 years. In addition to her duties there as Controller, she is the Director for their Memorial Park. She is also currently the Financial Director for Shaarey Tphiloh Synagogue, Bookkeeper for Hebrew Free Loan of Maine, Temple Beth El’s administrator of DMJ’s project, and an active member of the Portland Chevra Kadish since 2011. Sherri has recently been elected Chair of the Board of the Jewish Cemetery Association of North America (JCANA).
Originally from Houlton, Maine, Sherri now resides in Westbrook.
In addition to his role on the SMJCA Board, Steve is President of the Board of the Maine Jewish Museum, where he was a founding Board member and also serves on the Etz Chaim synagogue Board. He is also a founding Board Member of the Southern Maine Jewish Cemetery Association, where he currently serves as Secretary and is a past president and current Board Member of the JCA of Southern Maine where he led the Building Campaign to construct the new JCC/Federation complex in Portland. Steve is a past chairman of the Falmouth School Board, which he was elected to serve on for two three year terms.
Now mostly retired, Steve spent much of his career at Hannaford Bros Co as VP of Strategic Research.
Karen Lerman has been involved in our community for many years. Her involvement in the Jewish Community Center has included: Executive Board Secretary, Vice-President of Membership, 3 term President Center Women’s Club, Vice President of Programming, 5 years as full time volunteer Program Director and Fundraiser and 2 years as Interim Executive Director. The Karen M. Lerman Volunteer Award was established in her name after spending 16 years as a key volunteer for the JCC.
She has been a recipient of the Richard D. Aronson Young Leadership Award. She was a Charter Member of The Hate Crime Bias Task Force Portland Police Department. Karen has been a Program/Fundraiser for: Mark Dion for Sheriff of Cumberland County and a volunteer at the Jewish Community Alliance as Program Director and Special Events Fundraising Coordinator (Grand Event). She is a past Executive Director for the Mount Sinai Cemetery Association and a past member of Maine Go Red Heart Association.
In addition to being a Board Director for the Southern Maine Jewish Cemetery Association, Karen is a current volunteer for the Jewish Community Alliance – Michael Klahrs Food Pantry.
Karen lives in Scarborough with her husband, Alan. Her greatest love is that of her family: her husband, Alan; her children: Justin (Samantha), Brandon (Aim’ee) and grandsons: Grady Elijah, Caleb Benjamen, Jonah Oliver and Blake Isaac.
Marshall is a member of the law firm, Thompson MacColl & Bass in downtown Portland. He has been practicing law in Mane since 1983, focusing on employment law, commercial litigation, admiralty, constitutional law, family law and estate planning. He is the author of “The Maine State Constitution,” now in its second edition (Oxford 2012) and numerous law review articles. He is past president of Etz Chaim Congregation and the Vaad HaKashrut of Southern Maine. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Project FEED, the JCA’s Community Relations Committee, and various professional organizations in addition to the SMJCA. He has been married to Amy since 1984 and has three grown children and two grandchildren.
Sam Novick was born in Maine and attended Portland schools. A graduate of Bentley University, Sam went on to become the third generation owner of Hub Furniture Co.
Sam has always been very active in his community. He has served as President of the Portland Kiwanis Club, Jewish Community Center, Temple Beth El and the Jewish Community Alliance. In addition to his role on the Board of Southern Maine Jewish Cemetery Association, he has also been a board member of the United Way and Hebrew Free Loan. Sam has also served on various civic boards connected to his businesses in Portland and Westbrook. He is currently the Chairman of the Board of Infinity Federal Credit Union.
Sam is married to Bette and they reside in Portland. Together they have three adult children and seven grandchildren.
George has lived in Portland all of his life, except for brief stints out of state for secondary education. Growing up, he and his family were active in Jewish life, with Temple Beth El, its Hebrew school, the Jewish Community Center, and its Day Camp, being anchors of family life. He was educated in the Portland public schools, then left Maine for college, at the University of Pennsylvania, followed by law school at the University of Chicago. George returned to Portland after graduation from law school and began a career in private practice that has now spanned nearly 45 years.
Shortly after returning to Portland to practice law, George joined the Board of Directors of the Jewish Home for the Aged, now known as the Cedars, and for several years, he served as Chairman of its Board. During his tenure, the Home was transformed from a small residential facility for elderly Jewish residents to the Cedars, a modern elder care facility providing comprehensive living and healthcare services to Portland’s elder community, ranging from skilled nursing and rehabilitation services, to assisted and independent living facilities. Currently under construction is a memory care assisted living facility in the modern “household” style. The Cedars, today, is a national leader in care for the elderly.
George lives in Cumberland Foreside. He and his wife, Nancy have three children, two of whom are grown and have become parents of four grandchildren.
"When I moved to the Portland area in 2009, I never imagined that I would become so involved with cemeteries, let alone with their management, upkeep and finances. As I explored Portland and became familiar with the area and the Jewish community, I realized how important it is to honor our heritage and the memories of our loved ones and dedicated myself to the preservation, sanctity and continuity of our Jewish cemeteries, some of which are more than 100 years old. Although I have no relatives buried locally, I walk through our cemeteries and read the headstones and wonder about these people who came before us. I absorb the stories I hear from visiting families about their loved ones and it begins to feel as if I personally knew those who are buried here. It feels good to visit the graves of our ancestors and to take a few minutes in the quiet park-like atmosphere to reflect. When we come to lay stones on the graves of our loved ones and remember them, it is comforting to see a neatly trimmed and well maintained cemetery. It is a good feeling to know that someone is taking care of and maintaining their final resting place." ~ Sherri Quint, SMJCA Treasurer
"A few years ago, shortly after we moved back to Portland, I visited the Smith Street cemetery where my grandparents and other relatives are buried. I was shocked and very saddened by the deplorable conditions I observed. Where was the caring, respect and dignity we as a Jewish community owe all of our ancestors? I was so pleased when a group of concerned Jews formed the SMJCA in order to repair and maintain the Smith Street and Mt. Sinai cemeteries." ~ Wilma Rose
Work is ongoing at both Mt. Sinai and Smith Street cemeteries. Check out our photo gallery and view our photos and progress as we complete work on our cemeteries.
Your support and contributions will enable us to meet our goals and improve conditions at Mount Sinai and Smith Street cemeteries. Your generous donation is tax deductible and will help fund our mission.