Elkan’s View from Netanya


As usual the Festival of Sukkot in Israel was delightful. The weather has been unseasonably warm, with short sleeves and shorts being perfectly acceptable in October, and the country full of Sukkot!

If you live in a house then you put your Sukkah in your garden; if you have a patio then you can put it on that, but living in a block of flats presents its own problems. One complex in Netanya puts up a very large communal Sukkah for its very large blocks, which is a major social success as families who hardly see each other during the year get together.

There are some blocks in Netanya that are designed for observant Jews; the balconies in such blocks are deliberately staggered so that each family’s Sukkah is directly open to the heavens!

In my block one of my neighbours builds his large family Sukkah in the car park. This has the effect of worsening our parking problems, but no one complains for one week.

The festival finishes with Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah jointly which is the only strong argument that I can see for two days Yom Tov since the two festivals sit uneasily side-by-side. My synagogue began its services at 7:30 AM and didn’t finish until 1 PM, longer than Rosh Hashanah. Everything of course is very lively and very loud, and degenerates from time to time into chaos although most members of the shul understand the significance of the “Rejoicing of the Law”as Routledge decorously describes it. I have to confess that I wandered into shul disgracefully late, was immediately called up, and was then offered and drank in quick succession three single malts – Aberlour, Ardbeg and Glenlivet if you must know. It is a classy establishment!

After the Haftarah the whole mood changes. Yizkor is observed followed by Tefillat Geshem, the prayer for rain which is of such central importance in this country. It forms a very quiet and dignified ending to a raucous morning.

And later this week the Yoreh, the early rains, as the second paragraph of the Shema describes them, will begin in earnest.


Penzance Jewish Cemetery Restoration

The Penzance Jewish Cemetery restoration has been completed overseen by the Friends of Penzance Jewish Cemetery on behalf of BOD Heritage Limited, the owners.

The contract was given to local craftsman Mike Penaluna who tragically died shortly after starting the work. We are grateful to Leo Penaluna, his son for completing the work to a very high standard. The cemetery walls and entrance now look in a pristine condition.

The funds for the project were donated by over 60 individuals and organisations principally by the Heritage Lottery Fund and including the Cornwall Heritage Trust, The Town Council, many local residents, Jewish charities and descendants of those buried in the cemetery. We have posted the new photos in our photo gallery.

Clearance of Falmouth Jewish Cemetery

Question: How do you get 265 years of intrusive vegetation cleared in only 3 days?
Answer: Find two two old Jews and give them the job.

David Hearle and Anthony Fagin, members of Kehillat Kernow with a combined age of 144 years, using tools both ancient and modern, stripped back the vegetation and pollarded the self-seeded trees that for aeons had progressively been engulfing the site of the historic Jewish Cemetery in Falmouth. For the first time in generations it is now possible to see all the gravestones. Many still remain standing, albeit it at precarious angles, while others have fallen. Of those that have fallen, several have been vandalised. But at least a proper survey can now be undertaken of the remedial work that needs to be done to repair and re-erect the fallen stones in their proper places and to repair the perimeter walls and other architectural features of the cemetery.

An alliance called Friends of the Ponsharden Cemeteries has been formed with volunteers responsible for restoring the adjoining Dissenters’ Cemetery and also involving representatives of Falmouth Town Council and Historic England. Work is now well advanced on the preparation of a project proposal that will be sent to potential funders in the hope of securing sufficient funding to enable restoration work to start (subject to the granting of formal approval since both sites are Scheduled Monuments).

The eight  photographs in the photo gallery show the clearance work under way, the cleared site and a member of the local fire brigade putting a damper on proceedings having been called out by passing motorists who were alarmed by the bonfire.

Words and pictures by Anthony posted by Leslie

Jewish Community in Cornwall