2017 AGM

Annual General Meeting

Kehillat Kernow

19 November 2017

Present:   Present:   Leslie Lipert, Pat Lipert, Rachel Brown (Secretary), Jeremy Jacobson, Bonnie Rockley, Roger Chatfield, Gloria Moses, Wilf Rockley, Babs Coleman, Adam Feldman

Apologies: Harvey Kurzfield Anne and David Hearle, Carolyn Shapiro, Antony Fagin

1.       Welcome read by Chairman
2.       Minutes of the last AGM read by Jeremy

3.       Committee officer reports

a.      Chairman-

This time last year, near the end of the meeting, Harvey, who had led our community so successfully for sixteen years, literally stood down. That is, he vacated the chair he had been sitting on for the last hour and asked me to take his place. I was humbled and honoured. I still am, one year later, as I reflect on the nature of Jewish leadership. The first leader of Jews as a community, indeed as a nation, was Moses. After shouldering most of the responsibilities alone, he was advised by his father-in-law Jethro to appoint officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens to judge and mediate among the people. Moses thereby founded the rule of Judges, which would continue until, centuries later, the people cried out for a king. While some of the kings were good, even great, too many of them led the nation into idolatry and civil conflict. There were other leaders, the priests, of course, and the prophets, although the latter were often ignored. Exile under the Babylonians and later dispersion by the Romans called for a new kind of government to hold Israel together as the people of the Covenant, wherever the people were: sages, rabbis and synagogue administrators. Why this potted history? Because in my small way, I have a sense of being part of an age-old, evolving tradition. It is not only Jews who have systems of governance, of course. We live in a country with one of the most mature organisational cultures in the world. What marks us out, though, is that how we run our affairs today is the product of three thousand years of shared experience.

And after that preamble, let me get down to business.

The central activity which holds us together more than any other has to be our regular services and festivals, which follow a rhythm repeated with some variations year after year. We are lucky to be led in our worship by a number of dedicated, eloquent ‘messengers of the congregation[1], Adam, Harvey, Liz and Pat, who each week bring new information and insights to our Torah readings. We were lucky also this year to have David and Hannah Jacobs shortly before Pesach to lead both Shabbat Evening and Day services, plus a stimulating discussion on differing interpretations of the four sons in Haggadot from a number of traditions and times. Both the Pesach Seder and the High Holy Days were very successful this year, with good attendance, heartfelt davening and hearty eating in the right places.

A theme of this past year could almost be said to be cemeteries, in which we have been involved either directly or indirectly. A ceremony to consecrate the new natural burial site in Penmount was both moving and light of touch, if not light in result, since we probably put on considerable weight at the slap-up cream tea held afterwards at the Alverton in Truro. A month before came the Open Day at Falmouth Ponsharden Cemeteries, which, while not organised by Kehillat Kernow, involved us in several ways and which many of our members attended. We are, besides, recognised as a partner by the Friends of Ponsharden Cemeteries with regard to the restoration, which Leslie and Anthony are heavily involved in.

A new initiative this year has been the Film-Food-Fact-and-Fiction Club. So far we have had three events, each one slightly different from the others, since the Club provides a fluid and flexible vehicle for cultural and social interaction. Three films, two books and different foods have been shared, enjoyed and discussed with great animation and I sense that the Club will become a regular item on our agenda.

Another new initiative has been ‘Letters from the Chair’. The idea is to stimulate discussion on a variety of things Jewish stemming from an initial opinion, or opinionated, piece written by the Chairman, followed by the dissemination of a summary of the discussion through our Newsletter. So far there has been one letter and discussion. Another should follow soon… hopefully!

As Jews, we are committed to acting in and on this world and, in the Diaspora, this means we need to interact with the societies in which we live. We do this as a community through our membership of the Cornish Faith Forum and through co-operation on an ad-hoc basis with different groups and organisations. In January we organised a joint service with a loose coalition of Christian groups, led by Redruth Baptist Church, for Holocaust Memorial Day. The service was followed by a film on the Dutch Resistance and then by food kindly prepared by the Church. It was a moving afternoon. We also co-operated with the Faith Forum in an exhibition and series of readings at Truro Cathedral.

Other work with the Faith Forum has included taking part in World Peace Day, St Piran’s Day and UN Day, and in several of us delivering workshops to schools, which we do together with other faiths. We also took part in brick making for the Dor Kemmyn building and repair of the poly-tunnel, the latter combined with an event in memory of the MP Joe Cox.

We are an associate member of the Movement for Reform Judaism, which offers workshops, cultural events and training, and provides a channel of communication with Reform communities across the UK. We should consider taking more advantage of these opportunities. One way to do this is through the Further Education Grant scheme which was launched in October last year. We have not had any applicants so far and need to publicise the scheme more. There may also be opportunities to hold activities together with other south western communities, now that Rabbi Maurice Michaels from Bournemouth has applied for a grant from the MRJ.

A new, unwelcome development has been the increased need to take security into account. While the risk of something dramatic happening here in Cornwall is very low, it is now higher than it was before and both the CST (Community Security Trust), which helps safeguard Jewish communities across the UK and the Police have advised us to look at our security and take measures where appropriate. We have, therefore, began to introduce some changes to how we operate, such as controlling the access to services and checking the identity of anyone unknown who approaches us. We have also asked for next-of-kin details and considered a possible need for first aid training. All these measures may be compared to having a fire extinguisher in the house. Hopefully, and most probably, it will never be needed, but, were it to be, we would kick ourselves for not having one. Fortunately, Roger Chatfield has agreed to be our Security Officer.

To return to more joyous and beautiful things, our services have been embellished in the past year by the addition of a new Torah mantle and cover in Harvey Kurzfield’s     and Bonnie Rockley’s honour, both made by Anne Hearle, and by a new Aron Kodesh, made by Anthony Fagin, to house both our Scrolls.

And talking of honour, one of the best attended events of the whole year was the lunch in Harvey’s honour, shortly after last year’s AGM, a clear sign of the esteem which he was, and is, held in. Which brings me back to my opening musings. The Chair I have inherited from Harvey would collapse, and me with it, if it were not for the support and hard work of my fellow Council members. Indeed I do not know what I would do without them. May they live to be120.

b.      Secretary-no report

c.      Treasurer’s report

i.      Bank 19/11/17 62,450.93 Restricted

ii.      less BOD 115.00 and Falmouth cemetery 15,077.67

Unrestricted: 47,258.26

Leslie looking at different accounts to try and increase our interest.

iii.      29 members paid the new membership fees

iv.      20 did not. Action only taken for 9 of these as others are not regular attendees.

d.      Librarian

i.      Keith Pearce has generously donated several books

ii.      48 new additions since October

iii.      1223 Volumes in total

iv.      Of note is a Jewish Chronicle magazine about the Balfour Declaration

v.      Discussion about promoting the library via the next KK book club event

4.       Election of Members

a.      The committee voted back in for another term nominated by Gloria, seconded by Babs and Roger

5.       Social Events

a.      Rabbi Michaels of Bournmouth Shool applying for a grant for a SW ‘limmud’ type session as a regional initiative.

b.      Rachel to try and organize a multi faith Rosh chodesh event

c.      Jewish exhibition viewing and Afternoon tea at Truro Museum to be arranged

[1] Shaliach Tzibbur