Va-yeitzei

Jacob is a trickster. He comes into the world grasping his brother’s heel, as though trying to push past him into the light. Years later, he persuades his bother to sell him his birthright for some lentil soup. When his father is ill and filled with thoughts of death, Jacobs dresses up as his brother, lies to his father and steals the blessing Isaac meant for his elder son. Twenty years on, he fools his uncle by saying that he would be happy to have only the new lambs born with markings and then working some magic so that, against the law of probability, the majority of lambs are indeed born with markings. Tricksters are not uncommon in legend and myth. Here in Britain, we have Beanstalk Jack, who fools first a giant and then his wife in order to steal a bag of money, a singing harp and, finally, a golden egg laying goose. The Greek hero Odysseus comes up with the ruse of the wooden horse to trick the Trojans into believing that the besiegers have abandoned their ten year old siege. The ruse works, when the Greek soldiers hiding in the horse emerge in the night and open the city gates, thus enabling the whole army to enter and destroy the city, its people and a whole civilisation. Both North and South American indigenous people also had stories with tricksters getting the better of demons, nature or, after the conquest by Europeans, of foreign invaders and their gods.  

So what is different about Jacob? Why should we care about him? Why does he become Israel, one who wrestles with the divine? Well, there are several, related reasons. First of all, he is so human. He is not a superhuman hero like Odysseus, nor a divine creature like the native American heroes, nor a fantasy figure like Jack. We care about Jacob and follow his life with intense interest, noting how he grows with time in maturity, wisdom and moral sense. We feel for him as he humbles himself before Esau. It all starts with the dream he has on the way to his uncle’s house of angels ascending and descending a ladder. He is enhanced in spirit and understanding. On the return journey, many years later, he strives with the eternal and grows even more, notwithstanding that for the rest of his life he remains human and prey to human weaknesses. 

Second, the reference points of the story are moral and spiritual. Jacob is chosen to take the covenant forward, precisely because he understands what the covenant entails: a commitment to following God and understanding His ways. 

Third, Jacob’s story does not occur in isolation from the past or future, a mythical, self-contained bubble. Jacob is the son of Isaac and Rebecca, the grandson of Abraham and Sarah and the father of the twelve tribes of Israel. Moses is his child, as is Ruth, as is David, as is Elijah, as are we. God’s experiment to ask a people to be His people can only happen because Jacob becomes fit to take forward the achievements of his parents and grandparents. 

For these reasons, and others, we honour Jacob. For these reasons we are Israel. 

And there I must leave it, but you we can all grow in wisdom and understanding by coming this Saturday at 10.00, when Pat Lipert will take us further on Jacob’s journey.

AGM, Sunday 19th of November 2017

Jeremy Jacobson, Chairman of Kehillat Kernow, led our members through a fine summary of all that we have accomplished in the past year. We really do ‘punch above our weight,’ thanks to so many (but not enough!) of our hard-working members. So many worthwhile events are organised throughout the year in addition to our liturgical and pastoral duties  as a synagogue. Council members were duly re-elected, and plans for new events for 2017-18 are well underway.  Following the meeting a light luncheon was held and much time was spent in the Library which will figure largely in the coming year.

You can expect announcements from Jeremy shortly. In the meantime,  check out here the photos from the meeting on our web-site.

A Golden Night

 

Image result for lady in gold

If you missed the book, food and film festival on Saturday, 18th of November at Malpas Village Hall celebrating The Lady in Gold, Klimt’s masterpiece, and the title of Anne-Marie O’Connor’s book, you lost out on something very special.  Not only was the film excellent (how can Helen Mirren not be first-rate?),  but the poignant conversation after about Austrian life before and after the Nazi invasion, brought home so many truths about the terrible loss of Austrian Jewry. Needless to say, our ‘Golden’ food menu was sumptuous and meticulously prepared. Some photos of this fine event can be seen here on our  web-site.

Book Swap Success

On November 4th, KK members, Jacqueline and Harvey Kurzfield,  hosted and organised their annual Book Swap to raise funds for Cornwall Hospices. This year £665  was raised. A multitude of people arrived at the Kurzfield house to swap books, eat cakes, participate in raffles and contribute to this worthy cause which is held every year in honour the memory of one of our beloved, members, Kate Fagin (z’l). Pictures of this special event can be seen in our picture gallery by clicking here.

Jewish wild flower cemetery consecrated

Over twenty people attended the consecration ceremony at the Penmount Wildflower Cemetery section for Jewish burials in Truro on Sunday, the 15th of October.  The service was led by Life President, Harvey Kurzfield, to officially mark the site which will eventually be the final resting place for members of the Jewish community who wish to be buried there.

The area has been especially marked off and separated from the other wild flower section of this cemetery with Hawthorne bushes. A portable water facility is on hand to accommodate those who wish to wash their hands after leaving the area and a bench has been placed which will one day have the names of people who are buried there.

In addition, a special book of remembrance will be placed inside the Penmount Crematorium building with a page for each member buried at this particular site with a picture of a Jewish headstone with the appropriate words in Hebrew and English and inscriptions of choice to replicate what the deceased person’s burial plot would have looked like with a traditional tombstone.

Following the ceremony an extra service took place to bury sacred, unusable sacred books.

A High Tea at the Alverton Hotel sponsored by Kehillat Kernow took place after the services.

Many thanks to Susan Cannon, Penmount Funeral Director; Harvey Kurzfield, Rachel Brown and Leslie Lipert for organising this meaningful event.

For Gallery pictures click here.

Jewish Community in Cornwall