T’rumah

We are not very far into the Book of Shemot, when the laws begin to come thick and fast, as though there were an urgency to setting the foundations for a just society and a nation holy to God. The Ten Commandments given in Yithro are followed almost immediately with the lesser, but still important, rules of Mishpatim. These range across the treatment of slaves, manslaughter, murder and kidnapping, cursing a parent, treatment of animals, loans and borrowing, the rectitude of those in authority and the administration of justice. Then Moses ascends the mountain and, while the people can see the “appearance of God’s glory on the mountain top”, God begins to give instructions for the building of the Tabernacle and its accompanying furniture and trappings.

Rabbi Lord Sachs has pointed out in Covenant and Conversation how the building of this small but beautiful home for God (though, of course, God needs no home in the way we can conceive of it) parallels God’s own creation. There is, too, a broader theme. One can see the Torah as a great and multi-level work of architecture. It begins with the creation of the world, while this week we are given the blueprint for the Tabernacle. As mentioned, the rules for building a new society have also begun. The architectural motif applies on other levels too. The theme of sibling rivalry, often referred to, opens with an opposition so strong it leads to murder, develops in different ways, through Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, displaying a little more growth of understanding and reconciliation, until it culminates in the story of moral change, repentance and forgiveness in the story of Joseph and his brothers.

There is a pattern. The creation of things itself has an overarching design. The grandeur of the creation is followed shortly by the building of Noah’s ark, a relatively small construct which carries the seeds of life on vast, stormy waters. The hubris of Babel follows. For its builders it is a grand and aggrandising tower, but it is toppled by God as we might topple the play-brick tower of a toddler. Much later, in Egypt, the Israelites are forced to build the ambitious cities of imperial Egypt, but then escape into the desert to live in flimsy, ephemeral tents. Yet they build there a small, but intricate, dazzling house for a presence which is beyond all presences.

There is, too, an architecture of language in the Torah, but this is enough already. I will leave the last to a gentile with rather a way with words:

There’s a divinity that shapes our ends,
Rough-hew them how we will.

And to listen to another man with a way with words, come along this Saturday at 10:30, when Adam Feldman will be leading the service.

Memorial services for the six million

Holocaust Memorial Services on the 26-28th of January to mark Holocaust Memorial Day were held in Cornwall to acknowledge the 73rd anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps. The Cornwall Jewish Community participated in all these events which were held at Truro Cathedral and the Redruth Baptist Church.

On Friday and Saturday, the 26th and 27th of January, two days of services took place at Truro Cathedral. The weekend-long programme was a joint effort by Anglican church, the Devon and Cornwall Police and the Cornwall Council. An exhibit, The Power of Words, to educate the public about the impact holocaust experiences have had on the lives of so many people including  the six million Jews lost in the Holocaust, in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur. Candle-lighting services to mark the loss of Jewish lives were held. KK member Liz Berg and Chairman, Jeremy Jacobson participated in those events.

On Sunday, the 28th of January, A special inter-faith service, organised and sponsored by Andrew Chapple, Elder of the Redruth Baptist Church, and Jeremy Jacobson of Kehillat Kernow. was held.

A specially created Yom HaShoah Memorial Service by the Cornish Jewish Community was led by Pat Lipert, the second to be held at the Baptist church. Many members of Kehillat Kernow attended and participated in this service which also included programme participation from the greater Christian and Baptist community. KK Members who read special prayers, testimonies of witness, poems and liturgy  including Jeremy Jacobson, Rachel Brown, Harvey Kurzfield and Adam Feldman.

Cambridge comes to Cornwall

Two distinguished and accomplished visitors from the Beth Shalom Reform Synagogue in Cambridge led our end of the year Shabbat Va-y’chi services on the 30th of December: Mike Frankl and Fiona Karet Frankl. Both Mike and Fiona celebrated the Shabbat, along with their two delightful friends and bearded collie, Archie, after travelling from Looe in windy weather to be with us. A large turnout with visitors as far away as the USA and Germany, joined the KK regulars for a lively Shabbat of songs, prayers and much fellowship at the Kiddush which followed.
We were treated to new tunes and insightful commentary by Fiona and a fine lecture by Mike on the Jewish connection with the Hyksos in Egypt during the time of Joseph and Jacob.
Many thanks to Fiona and Mike for a fine end of the year Shabbat.

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.

Jewish Community in Cornwall