Pesach in Cornwall

Enjoy a traditional service and super seder in an idyllic setting in Cornwall if you are in the Southwest for Friday night, 3rd April at 6:30pm at Trelissick Gardens.

One of the highlights of the year, Kehillat Kernow, the Jewish community of Cornwall is delighted to welcome visitors to their seder and reading of the Haggadah at this beautiful festival held at a beautiful National Trust site. Both Ashkenazi and Shephardi food will be served.

Tickets are available by contacting the event’s organiser, Mrs. Anne Hearle at 01736-731686.

View From Netanya

ELKAN’S VIEW 11th March 2015

“See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, and the cooing of doves is heard in our land.” Song of Songs 2:11&12, read on Pesach.

One of the delights of living in Israel is the way that familiar verses from the Bible suddenly come to have a new and powerful meaning, and particularly at the moment the famous verses from the Song of Songs. Winter in Israel is often unpredictable but usually miserable. Israeli buildings are not made for the cold – who wants insulation to keep the heat in during the summer? – and the result is that they are difficult to warm and even more difficult to keep warm. The usual way of heating Israeli houses is by hot air pumped through the air-conditioning system, and at the best this is not terribly efficient, and usually sliding windows don’t fit properly. In the spring summer and autumn, none of this matters but in the winter you know about it.

Some of the winter this year was horrendous, although I was delighted to have missed it. For several days a heavy dust storm lay over Tel Aviv and obscured the sun and its heat; then wind and gales of unusual ferocity, and less than three weeks ago the Judaean hills were subject to an unusually heavy blizzard and snowstorm. When I went to Jerusalem and Efrat recently the snow still lay on the ground, although the temperature had lifted somewhat. Three days later Tel Aviv, Netanya and the coastal plain suddenly had two days when the temperatures reached 26°!

All of this has had the unusual effect of Israelis talking about the weather as if they were British! But things do seem to have changed, weather-wise and the Bible’s view of springtime seems to have unusual force.

And at least it makes a change from talking about the elections!

Zac’s Bar Mitzvah

Zac Berger, now officially known in the family of Israel as Yitzhak ben Sha’ul, was joined by many members of the community, his family and friends for his Bar Mitzvah held on the 9th of Adar, Shabbat Zachor, the 28th of February at Shabbat services conducted by Chairman Harvey Kurzfield.


Zac read the maftir passage from Parsha Tetzaveh, the Haftarah reading and sang the blessings for both in excellent Hebrew. Members of the community and his family participated in various parts of the service. Harvey, who tutored Zac for his Bar Mitzvah presentation, was visibly pleased with how well Zac did with his readings along with proud parents, Mr and Mrs. Saul Berger, his siblings and grandmother.

A fine Kiddush provided by the family followed to celebrate Zac’s major accomplishment. Rachel Brown, KK secretary, organised and prepared the venue for the event.

Mazel Tov Yitzhak!

Penzance Cemetery wins Heritage Lottery Funding

Good news for Jewish-Cornish heritage: a grant of £13,100 has been awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to restore Penzance Jewish Cemetery.  This initiative has brought Board of Deputies Heritage together with Jewish and Cornish partners, namely Kehillat Kernow – The Jewish Community of Cornwall, Friends of the Penzance Jewish Cemetery, Penlee House Gallery & Museum in Penzance and the Penzance Town Hall.

The project will preserve the fabric of the most westerly and southerly of Jewish cemeteries in Britain for present and future generations to appreciate. In addition to the physical preservation, the cemetery site will be made more accessible to Jewish, Cornish and wider communities by encouraging visitors to appreciate this unique heritage site. The grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund is matched by a similar amount made up of contributions by visitors to the cemetery, a number of generous donations from descendants of those interred in the cemetery, local and Jewish grant making organisations and local traders.

Restoration of the fabric, which will be carried out by local craftsmen with local materials, will go hand-in-hand with an extensive programme, using trained volunteers and staff at Penlee House to provide opportunities for schools, colleges and members of the local community to visit the Cemetery, as well as develop courses and workshops. In this way, the Cemetery’s history will be more fully appreciated. The restored building will also attract visitors to Cornwall and be a valuable addition to the Duchy’s rich store of natural and man-made places of interest.

Commenting on the award, Leslie Lipert, Kehillat Kernow, Treasurer , Agent for BOD Heritage Limited and one of the Friends of Penzance Jewish Cemetery, said, “The generous contributions of the Heritage Lottery Fund and others will revive Jewish and Cornish history and strengthen links between our new Jewish community and the wider Cornish population. It will also connect both with a shared past.”

Louise Connell, Penlee House Gallery and Museum, Director said, “The Penzance Jewish Cemetery is a place of great local, national and international significance. This grant is important as it will enable essential work to take place to preserve the site and provide greater access to the wider community. Penlee House Gallery & Museum and its governing body, Penzance Town Council, are proud to be associated with this project and will continue to help and support the Friends of the Jewish Cemetery to promote and celebrate Jewish heritage in Penzance.”

As for HLF, its Head of South West, Nerys Watts, said: “It is wonderful that we are able to support the vital restoration of Penzance Jewish Cemetery. As a final resting place for many figures who made a major impact on Cornwall’s commercial, religious and economic life for more than two centuries, it has huge significance to the local community. By getting volunteers involved in the restoration, and opening up the cemetery to the visitors, more people will have the chance to learn about and explore the cemetery’s fascinating history.”

For the background to this story and more information go to: Penzance Cemetery.

The National Lottery and Heritage Lottery Fund Logos

Holocaust Memorial Day receives interfaith support in Cornwall

Tuesday 27 January was Holocaust Memorial Day and there were events throughout the UK to remember those  those who suffered and died under Nazis persecution. This year, seventy special commemorative candles designed by Sir Anish Kappor to mark the seventy years since the liberation of Auschwitz were lit all over the UK, including one in Bodmin. The event in Bodmin was just one of many which took place in the Duchy.

Cornish Christian, civic and Jewish groups made an active effort this year to support and remember those who died in the Holocaust. A number of events before and on the 27th of January were held in Hayle, Redruth, Newquay, Truro and Penponds for the greater community, with active participation from members of Kehillat Kernow.

An afternoon service on the 27th was held at Redruth Baptist Church by local Christian congregants, followed by a film about Corrie Ten Bloom, a Dutch survivor of Ravensbrook Concentration Camp, who, before she was arrested, saved many Jews from the Nazis by hiding them in her house, until she was betrayed by a fellow countryman who pretended to need her help to save his wife. She was very much supported  in all she did by her father and beloved sister,  the former who died from shock a few days after arrest, the latter who died in Ravensbrook.  She spent the rest of her life after the war setting up a rehabilitation centre and speaking to groups across 60 countries about the Shoah and the need for reconciliation. This event was organised by Gillian and Michael Saldivar. Kehillat Kernow members, Harvey Kurzfield and Jeremy Jacobson attended.

On the 24th, a second event at Hayle Methodist Church, held by another Christian group who are loyal supporters of Israel, featured a film about the the aftermath of the European Shoah and explored the plight of Middle Eastern Jews who had been in North Africa and the Gulf area for 2,500 years, and were systematically expelled from their countries with the emergence of the state of Israel.  Members of Kehillat Kernow, Leslie and Pat Lipert, said prayers and Kaddish after the film.

On the 27th and 30th of January, Interactive Days of activities sponsored by the Devon and Cornwall Police, Cornwall Council and partner agencies, were held in Newquay and Truro and were  attended by KK member David Hampshire.

A Kehillat Kernow memorial service was held at Harvey and Jacqueline Kurzfield’s home in Penponds at 7pm on the 27th for the Jewish community to remember all those lost in the Holocaust.  This tradition of remembering and honouring those who died during the Shoah was begun several years ago by Louise Garcia who created the remembrance service and has carried on after her departure.


Harvey Kurzfield, Chairman of KK, led the service of remembrance. Members of our community attended. Along with traditional prayers and specific readings, candles were lit for the six million Jews who lost their lives in the Shoah.  Members of the community read several passages written by those who bore witness to those times of inexorable cruelty. A discussion followed which highlighted the need for continued education through the ages to all future generations and the importance of not only remembering but also acting to ensure that awareness of genocides cannot be ignored and never should be tolerated.

Pat Lipert, January 2015

Jewish Community in Cornwall