Our title mixes Hebrew and Cornish. ‘Kehillat’ means [Jewish] Community and ‘Kernow’ is the ancient form for Cornwall, so we have the Jewish Community of Cornwall.
History or not
Legend has it that Jews arrived in Cornwall over a thousand years ago. Hence names such as Marazion (possibly ‘Jewish Market’ in Cornish) and Market Jew Street in Penzance. However, the stories are almost certainly apocryphal. What is certain is that Jewish communities were established, mainly in Falmouth and Penzance, in the eighteenth century. These died out by the end of the nineteenth, though this was not the end of the Jewish story in Cornwall.
The new community, Kehillat Kernow, has existed since 1999. Our members come from widely differing backgrounds: former members of the progressive movement, people brought up in the orthodox tradition, others from the reform establishment and some who have converted to Judaism or who are in the process of converting. We have Jews from different countries: France, the United States, Germany and India. We also have members who are not Jewish. Altogether, we have over a hundred members, with new ones joining each year. We also welcome many Jewish holiday visitors who come to Cornwall from all parts of the world. The final words of the Dr Jonathan Sacks, the Chief Rabbi, in his book ‘The Dignity of Difference’ apply to the formation of our community within the body of Judaism itself: “Difference does not diminish; it enlarges the sphere of human possibilities.”
We usually hold regular fortnightly Shabbat services. These services are conducted by volunteer members whose prowess grows year by year, and from time to time we have input from student rabbis of Leo Baeck College and from visiting rabbis or others versed in Jewish lore.
Since March 2020 all our activities have been online. We currently hold weekly Erev Shabbat service every week except the final week of the month, when we hold a Shabbat morning service. If you would like to attend one of these, please contact us, as indicated below.
Our association with MRJ
We are associated with the Movement for Reform Judaism, from which we have received considerable help and support, especially from David Jacobs, until recently the Director of the MRJ’s synagogue support service. We have, in the past, had the valuable support of Elkan and Celia Levy (peace be upon her) and their visits have always been memorable.
We also work with the InterFaith Community of Cornwall on their programmes Learning for Peace, Sharing for Peace and Building for Peace, and our Chairman and Vice-Chair are members of their Executive.
Our subscription rates are very modest and we have charitable status, which makes such subscriptions even more useful to our budgetary needs.
Kehillat Kernow is happy to receive prospective converts at its religious services and at other events. It can provide advice, opportunities to discuss practices, Jewish law and other topics and also offer some pastoral support. Read more
If you require further information, please contact us through our website or feel free to contact me at: .
Remember whatever the weather here in Cornwall, you can be assured of a warm welcome from Kehillat Kernow.
Jeremy Jacobson OBE
Chairman, Kehillat Kernow.
Registered Charity No 1090562.
View our Constitution.