Sh’lach l’cha

Please note that service reminders aim to build a bridge between the last Saturday service two weeks before and the one being announced. They will therefore often focus on the previous parshah rather than on the one in the title.

“When you raise and light the lamps, the seven lamps shall illuminate the menorah.” The lamps flame with holiness and burn with the freedom of the Israelites. And certainly B’ha’lot’cha begins well with instructions for the inauguration of the Levites into their role as God’s servants. Rules for Passover follow, then the wonderful image of the divine cloud that covers the Tabernacle by day, giving way to the divine fire by night. When the Israelites are to move on, the cloud lifts and goes ahead to guide the people on their journey. The Ark goes forth, the Ark stops and the people go obediently and happily with it. But how long can they remain happy? Not very long, sadly. They are soon complaining again, this time about the endless days of manna, whereas in Egypt they had fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. They forget what they paid for this good diet in the way of remorseless forced labour and lack of freedom. No sooner has God sent quail to fill their bellies, even to nausea, than Aaron and Miriam complain against their long-suffering brother. They are silenced by God’s description of how He speaks to Moses, not in visions, but face to face, “Moses, who is like a trust servant through My house.” Miriam is punished, but ever compassionate and loving, Moses asks God to forgive her.

And so we come to Sh’lach L’cha and the episode of the spies and yet another episode of backsliding. There is, though, hope, always hope. Moses, yet again, prays to God to forgive the people and, just as important, two examples of great courage stand out, for Joshua and Caleb, despite the risk of being stoned by the people, appeal to them to have faith in God and go forward into the promised land.

As usual, there is much, much more, and you can hear it and live it by coming to the service at Three Bridges School on Saturday at 10.30. Pat Lipert will be leading us.

Elkan’s View From Netanya


Last month I went to three of the oldest provincial communities in England. Each has a glorious history, and all have unusual buildings or artefacts that make them worth visiting.,

I began in Exeter, a community that has the second oldest Ashkenazi synagogue in the UK. Opened in 1763, it now has an unusual cross communal community that appears to work fairly satisfactorily, with some services being traditional and some progressive, and generally the community supports whatever is going on. Apart from playing a major part in the life of the city, Exeter Hebrew Congregation has in the past boasted a number of sophisticated adult education courses, while its toddlers group, rejoicing in the name of “Dreidel Dribblers”(!) is now becoming Hebrew classes.

The shul itself is beautiful with some interesting Georgian features and the unique addition of a Bimah that is neither square nor rectangular, but actually egg shaped!

I then went to visit Kehillat Kernow (the old Cornish name for Cornwall). The community is widely scattered across the beautiful county, with services usually taking place in Truro. They do however have one of the original Sifrei Torah that belonged to the community of Falmouth which flourished between 1740 and 1879. The Sifrei Torah then slumbered in the Royal Cornwall Museum until I inspected them in 2010. This was then was repaired by the Sofer Bernard Benarroch, reconsecrated at a service in May 2014 and is now in use.

However the purpose of my visit was to be present at the ceremony marking the refurbishment of the Penzance Jewish cemetery. Established in 1740, the oldest legible stone is dated 1801 and many of the inscriptions are extremely unusual and interesting, including the young daughter of the Rabbi who, unusually, died of cholera and was buried on Shabbat 10th November 1832 “Bamagefa – because of the plague”.

I then spent a lovely Shabbat in Cheltenham, whose beautiful Regency Synagogue houses the original 1751 furniture from the New Synagogue in Leadenhall Street.

A trip to view these wonderful historical sights of Anglo-Jewish history is very worthwhile, and all of these communities have websites that will assist you.


Pesach 5776

At the recent Seder, a good time was had by all, despite the absence of esteemed Newsletter Editor and stalwart Seder chef Pat Lipert, and Treasurer and general logistics wizard Leslie Lipert, who crossed the Atlantic to sample an American Pesach. The potential imbalance of populations was restored by the movement the other way of Rachel Brown’s parents   , who travelled from New York to Cornwall to spend Pesach with daughter and grandchildren.  Kehillat Kernow Chair Harvey Kurtzfield and Vice-Chair Adam Feldman led the service with great verve. The food was carefully and tastefully prepared by members of the community and the afikomen was found by Isaac Feldman, the last time he will qualify to take part in the search. Once again, we experienced the moving yet joyful story of the Exodus.

Ceremonies to Mark Restoration of Penzance Jewish Cemetery

The restoration was completed in August 2105. For more details of this and of the cemetery in general go to Penzance Cemetery on this site and to Friends of Penzance Jewish Cemetery.  A great deal of credit for the restoration rests with Leslie Lipert, Treasurer of both Kehillat Kernow and the Friends of the Cemetery, in raising the funds, and with Jon Pender, former Planning Officer and Chairman of the Friends, in processing the listed building applications and overseeing the restoration itself.

Two ceremonies are scheduled to mark the restoration. The first of these will be a re-sanctification, which will take place on 13 March, to be attended by the Jewish community in Cornwall and to be led by David Jacobs.

The second ceremony will take place on 18 May and will be attended by the Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall, Colonel Bolitho OBE, Colin Spanjar, of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, local dignitaries, significant donors and friends of the cemetery. Please note that attendance at the civic ceremony is strictly by invitation.

Jewish Community in Cornwall