Cancellation of services and OUR Communal Seder Night due to the Coronavirus

The Prime Minister addressed the country on 12 March 2020 through a news bulletin outlining the serious situation the country faces with the spread of the Coronavirus. The most important thing we can do to protect each other and reduce the speed with which this illness affects people is to minimise social contact. Coronavirus is now circulating in the general community throughout in the UK and Cornwall. To protect all members we have taken the decision to suspend all Shabbat Services including the one on Saturday, 14 March 2020 until further notice and this year’s communal Seder Night. This is in keeping with advice from Reform Judaism

Coronavirus can be transmitted before people have symptoms and the only action that can be taken in order to slow down the rate of transmission is reducing social mixing.

We are not aware of anyone at this time within Kehillat Kernow who has been diagnosed and very much hope everyone remains healthy.

When the public health situation settles we will be able to resume services.

Getting ready for Pesach, Torah Style

The four special Shabbats leading up to Pesach are God’s proscription for purification before the  major festival of Passover to begin the Jewish calendar year.  And you thought it was all about getting rid of the Chametz and purchasing your ‘unleavens.’ Like all major Holy Days, the Torah guides the way with preparatory parashot to put us in the right frame of mind to participate in our festivals in the right spirit.

Shabbat Shekalim starts with the equitable contribution to the holy community with each of us giving our half-shekel. It is followed by Shabbat Zachor to remember our past, both its triumphs and desecrations. Shabbat Parah, the “Red Heifer” is about purification, this week’s  parsha of Ki Tissa, a much needed element considering it is the narrative involving the Golden Calf incident and the redeeming second set of Tablets containing the Law carried down the mountain after Moses, once again, rescues  the B’nei Yisrael from total annihilation. It took two tries. We are not called a ‘stiff-necked people’ in this parsha for nothing. Finally, just before Pesach, we have Shabbat Ha-Chodeh which concerns forgiveness, reconcilliation and specific instructions for Passover.

By that time, we ought to be both spiritually prepared and physically strong to meet Pesach with gusto!

In this week’s service, led by Pat, you will learn more about what it takes to be purified, have a greater understanding of what God wants from us through the revelation of His thirteen attributes of mercy and learn that there is more to Aaron than meet the eye.

Purim PARTY 2020

Graggers and Hamentaschen: It must be Purim

Pre-Purim got off to a fine start at Malpas Village Hall on Saturday, the 7th of March for children and members of Kehillat Kernow. A Purim party which included many young children in costume (several Queen Esthers on show along with a variety of spacemen and rakish looking youngsters resembling Mordechai, to be sure), arrived and began making their homemade graggers before the story of the Jews of Sushan, was shown. The older ‘kids’ of the community laid out the goodies: varieties of Hamentaschen, Mohn Torte, assort sweets, salads for falafel-making, meringues and biscuits. Hamen was properly boo-ed and rattled; Mordechai and Esther were enthusiastically cheered. After, we were all treated to a mini-concert from Isaac Feldman who is becoming a genuine violin virtuoso.

Many thanks to the Feldman family who all worked very hard to make this a special celebration. Purim officially begins on the 14th of Adar, Tuesday, the 10th of March. Hag Sameach!

Pictures form the Purim Party can be seen by clicking here.

T’rumah: unholy acts in holy places?

One evening last week, an East Asian looking student was walking home from a gym in Sheffield when a man standing in a doorway shouted at her, “Chinese bitch!” In fact, she was not Chinese and had never been to China, not that this should have mattered. Further afield, in the central Poltava region of Ukraine, protestors attacked buses carrying evacuees from China to a spa in order to be quarantined. Meanwhile, Canadian Chinese and other South Asians have expressed fears of growing anti-Asian sentiments and prejudice among the wider Canadian community. The aggressors in all these cases have clearly not read or heard the Ten Commandments, which appeared (two weeks ago) in the parsha of Yitro, for does it not say, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.”? Or perhaps they have read this commandment. Perhaps they have read and heard it many times, but somehow it passed over them, like water off a duck’s back.

The commandment is expanded upon in the following parsha of Mishpatim: “Thou shalt not utter a false report; put not thy hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness. Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil.” In the same parsha, we are told twice not to oppress the stranger in our midst, which is what the outraged inhabitant of Sheffield did and what some Canadians are believed to be starting to do. In the case of Ukraine, the victims were not even strangers, though perhaps for the inhabitants of Poltava, they had somehow become strangers by living in a land far away.

Mishpatim is, as its name suggests, a collection of commands to act for justice and to do righteousness. The sudden change of subject to a blueprint for the building of the Sanctuary in this week’s parsha of T’rumah might, therefore at first sight, seem odd. For God to dwell among us however, as He declares He intends to do, the place where He will dwell needs to be special. It needs to be fit for holiness, but how can a holy place be in our midst if we ourselves are not dedicated to holiness? Indeed, it will be the way we act and the things we do which will determine whether the place will be holy or not. Our behaviour becomes the space and one of the worst ways we can desecrate that space is to bear false witness, to search for and hurl our rage against those we blame for our misfortunes. Don’t we know it!

This Saturday we have a special treat, for the service will be led jointly by Rabbi Maurice Michaels from Bournemouth and Murray Brown, currently commuting between Cornwall and London to his new job. We would like to have a more special kiddish lunch than normal, partly in honour of our guest, partly because two of our members will be getting married on the Saturday evening, namely Rachel Brown and Roger Chatfield. Please try, therefore, to bring something good to share.

Jewish Community of Cornwall