Va-yiggash

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.

The whole of the book of Genesis can be seen as a history of brothers… and sisters… and brother and sister…

“Hang on a minute,” someone is saying. “How can you possibly reduce the first book of the Torah to a single theme like this?”

The thing is, like all creative books and all art, there are many different strands in the Torah which can be newly discovered, revisited, coloured and reshaped. Look at Hamlet, for instance. There are literally thousands of books written about just this one play. As for…

“Hang on a double minute,” that someone is now saying with a great deal more heat. “How can you even think about comparing our sacred text to a piece of literature?”

Read not, ‘Compare the Torah to a work of art, but rather compare the work of art to the Torah’. The Torah is simply the greatest of creative works. Indeed, its words embody the creation of the world, of humanity and of a people entrusted with a holy task. It resonates in its depth, shines with its insights and weaves into its being a multitude of shimmering threads.

So after that preamble, I return to the story of siblings. It starts extremely badly. The first brothers to be born are destroyed when one rises up and murders the other. From then on there are problems of varying degrees of intensity. Ham, the son of Noah, shames his two brothers Shem and Yefeh by observing their father naked. Ishmael and Isaac are estranged. Rebecca seizes the first opportunity to escape the malign influence of her mercenary brother. Jacob so alienates Esau that the latter plans to kill him. Leah and Rachel are rivals for Jacob’s affections. Finally, Joseph’s presumption and snitching enrage his brothers so that they almost kill him,  settling instead for selling him into slavery. It is this final story of sibling friction, culminating in the reconciliation that draws Genesis to a close, which is told in the most detail. Both Joseph and his brothers make a journey towards, on the one hand, generosity, wisdom and forgiveness and, on the other, towards a recognition of guilt and the desire to make amends. The opening words of Ya-yigash are, thus, among the most moving in Bereshit. “Judah walked up to (Joseph) and said, “Please, your highness, let me say something to you personally. Do not be angry with me, even though you are just like Pharaoh.” And so Judah, the brother who has demonstrated most clearly the human capacity for change from evil to righteousness, tells the story of his father’s loss and and his consuming fear of losing his youngest son as he believes he has lost the second youngest. Most importantly, Judah begs to be allowed to be Joseph’s slave in Benjamin’s place.”

As always, the parsha has far more in it than I can possibly touch on. To experience some of this, to share in prayer and song and to take part in a particularly special service come to Three Bridges School at 10.30 on Saturday. A  graduate of Kehillat Kernow and graduand of Exeter University, Murray Brown, together with Pat Lipert will be leading us.

 

Harvey Feted at KK Luncheon

Thirty-nine members of the KK community came out to honour and celebrate the chairmanship of Harvey Kurzfield on Saturday, 3 December at Trevaski’s Farm.

The feelings of all those families present couldn’t have been more heart-felt. In fact, many of the younger members had been B’nei Mitzvot as a result of Harvey’s tutoring.

Chairman Jeremy Jacobson, who organised the event, lead a series of speeches highlighting the reasons why Harvey has been held in such high esteem and in genuine affection during his 16-year tenure as KK’s founding chairman. Jeremy’s thoughtful comparison of Harvey to the Patriarchs and to Moses in terms of his human qualities were poignantly presented. He was followed by Treasurer Leslie Lipert who recalled many of the touching moments he had experienced working with Harvey over the years. Pat Lipert read an Elizabethan sonnet addressing some of the highlights of Harvey’s life and Adam Feldman, co-Chairman, presented Harvey with a letter signed by all Council members granting Harvey lifetime Presidency of KK in an eloquent address. That was followed by the giving of a special Torah Mantle and Mappa designed and created by Anne Hearle. This new mantle with a dedication to Harvey on the front will be used for all our regular Torah services in the future.

The younger members of the community then delivered the Priestly Blessing, something Harvey usually does for them during regular Shabbat services. Harvey received his blessing under the Tallit.

The three-course meal, carefully planned by Jeremy with members of the restaurant, left everyone full and grateful to have been a part of such a special event. Many thanks to Jeremy for all his hard work in making sure this was a very special simchah.

Photos taken at Harvey’s Luncheon

ELKAN’S VIEW FROM NETANYA

WEEK ENDING 3rd DECEMBER 2016

 The weather is not normally a topic of conversation here in Israel. Occasionally when there is a Sharav, the hot dry wind that blows from the desert which is also called a Hamsin, the conversation can become almost English. People exchange predictions of how hot dry and uncomfortable it’s going to be.

 What we have not been complaining about recently has been the lack of rain, and the fact that the weather now is mild and pleasant although it recently dropped to a somewhat chilly 18°!

 However the events of last week have put all that into perspective. The country has been unbelievably dry for months, and although major water shortages seem to be a thing of the past, and we are almost self-sufficient in water, sometimes nature overwhelms us.

 Dry conditions coupled with a strong wind caused a major outbreak of fires throughout the country. Firefighting aircraft were sent to Israel from Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Croatia, Russia and the USA. Large areas of Haifa had to be evacuated and about 60,000 people removed from their homes. Other areas were very badly hit. Hundreds of homes have been destroyed.

 Netanya seems to have escaped the worst, but a village inland from the city was subject to a large fire. On Shabbat one could see aircraft landing in the sea to take on water and then flying inland to douse the flames. The PA sent 8 firetrucks and 40 men to assist in the fires near Haifa, and they also fought fires in the West Bank settlement of Halamish. 

 Members of the public right across the religious and political spectrum have opened their houses to the homeless. Residents of the Arab village of Kfar Yassif circulated all Israelis offering them accommodation.

 In Haifa, Arabs risked their lives to save Jews and vice versa. Firemen from Ramallah doused blazes in West Bank settlements. The fire has brought a renewed spirit of mutual respect and toleration which hopefully will survive the end of the flames.

 And most miraculously, there was no loss of life.

Harvey Honoured at AGM Meeting

p1030540e

At the November 20th AGM meeting where 18 members of our community gathered, Harvey Kurzfield officially stepped down as chairman of Kehillat Kernow. Jeremy Jacobson was unanimously voted in as our new chairman. During the meeting at the Liperts house in Rosudgeon, both Harvey and Jeremy gave moving speeches about the community and the contributions made by various members.

Harvey’s spoke about how eventful his years as chairman of KK were, the numbers of people he was privileged to meet (including Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke of Edinburgh and Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks), and how much the experiences had meant to him. He paid tributes to various KK members but most especially to Jacqueline for all the love and support he has received over the years. He spoke of how lucky we are as a community to have Jeremy as our new chairman.

Jeremy elaborated on some of those themes but concentrated most of his remarks on Harvey noting how his humanity and quiet authority during his 16 years as chairman had made such a difference to the success, harmony, and growth of Kehillat Kernow.

In an elegant tribute to a man he obviously greatly respects and admires, Jeremy’s remarks underlined the gratitude felt by all of us for what Harvey has accomplished during his chairmanship. A letter of support, tribute and good wishes from Rev. Elkan Levy was read out by Leslie Lipert at this important occasion. A champagne luncheon followed.

Photos taken at the AGM

Jewish Community in Cornwall