18 November 2018
Present: Jeremy Jacobson, Leslie Lipert, Pat Lipert, Rachel Brown (Secretary), Adam Feldman, Harvey Kurtzfield, Anthony Fagin, Carolyn Shapiro, Gloria Jacobson, Jacqueline Kurtzfield, Roger Chatfield
Apologies: Anne Hearle, Bonnie Rockley
- Welcome by Jeremy and Minutes of last AGM
- Minutes of last meeting approved by Jeremy3
- Council Offers Reports
Chairman’s remarks In the October issue of Jewish Renaissance, in an article on the annual Jewish Christian Bible Week held in Haus Ohrbeck, Germany, Deborah Freeman speaks of:
“…the opportunity to meet and talk with such a lively collection of people,
Christians, whose raison d’être was engaging with Jews and Judaism,
rabbis and other Jews for whom the concepts of or lagoyim (a light to the
nations) and tikkun olam (repairing the world) includes enthusiastic
commitment to outreach and interfaith work.”
On reading this, I was reminded of my ‘Remarks’ in the latest newsletter, specifically the point about needing to engage with the world. Our community does this in several ways. First, through our work with the Cornwall Faith Forum. This year we have again delivered workshops in schools and colleges on a variety of topics, in Penzance Jewish Cemetery on local history and Jewish practices, and most recently in the Duchy Hospital on caring for patients of different faiths. We have participated in UN Peace Day, Remembrance Day and other inter-communal events. More generally, we have recently joined an initiative to build a Cornwall Faith Response Team to act in the event of major incidents and agreed to take part in the work of the Truro College chaplaincy. Thank you, Sharim Atilano, for volunteering for both these roles. For the third year we co-operated with Redruth Baptist Church to hold a joint service on the occasion of National Holocaust Day. A fuller more, orchestrated service, a film about the kinder transports and, of course, shared food marked a scaling up of this initiative. Watching a film which gives the service a historical context is an excellent way to remember, and possibly learn more about, our past. It is important to tell and listen to stories.
Indeed, if last year the theme seemed to be cemeteries, this year we could say it is stories. Stories, of course, are part of what we are about. We tell and retell them endlessly, stories with endings and stories without. Thus our Film-Fact-Fiction-and-Food Club is a good vehicle for our activity. It kicked off its second year with the book ‘The Lady in Gold’ and its companion film’ Woman in Gold’. The book tells the story of Gustav Klimt’s portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer and the extraordinarily cultured society in which it was created in the early part of the twentieth century. It also relates what happened to some of the principal Jewish families of Vienna as war approached and then engulfed them. The film picks up the story and relates how a brave, elderly woman, Maria Altmann, assisted by an almost equally courageous young lawyer, Randy Schoenberg, fought to recover the portrait from the Austrian authorities, fifty years after the end of the Second World War. For our next event, we read books borrowed from the Community library and then met to provide summaries to one another. For our final Club event, we watched the Israeli film ‘Ushpizin’ (Visitors), immersing ourselves in the life of an Orthodox Israeli community and the trials and triumphs of one of its families. The one constant in our Club nights has been the food, themed where possible, so tinted with gold for our first event and rich with the flavours of Israeli cuisine for the last.
To stay with stories, while returning to engaging with the world, our most recent event involved both, when in October, we exchanged narratives with the Islamic Community Centre. Folk tales, personal journeys, stories of faith were told by members of all ages. A large gathering attended, drawn from our two communities, but also from the Cornwall Faith Forum. Such a meeting of faiths is important in these troubling times. It helps increase understanding and trust. It establishes bonds between us all. Such bonds can help guard us from anti-semitism, which is, yet again, rearing its ugly head. And not only anti-semitism. There is also growing Islamophobia and more general racism. We have to stand up to this and we have to stand up together. We should tell one another more stories.
The fight for understanding and tolerance is that much stronger when different groups reach out to one another, as occurred when the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro hosted a visit in March, enabling us to examine their collection of Jewish texts, some of them, such as a Megillah, very beautiful. Similarly, Penlee House Gallery and Museum in Penzance mounted an exhibition of Judaica in the summer, so promoting an awareness and appreciation of Jewish culture and history in Cornwall.
We must not forget, in all this sharing, the activities which form the backbone of our community, namely the regular cycle of services which we follow, interrupted with bright flashes as we celebrate some of the major festivals. We continue to be served by a few, most dedicated service leaders. Sadly, Liz Berg has not been able to continue in this role, at least for the time being, so more has fallen on the shoulders of our three remaining chazanim: Adam Feldman, Harvey Kurzfield and Pat Lipert. Relief, however, has arrived in the person of Sharim Atilano, who took her first service in September. The work that goes into preparing and running a service, including the Torah portion, is demanding of much time and thought. We owe our service leaders a great debt.
As in previous years, we hosted a visit by David and Hannah Jacobs, this time shortly after Pesach, itself a bonanza of stories to tell, songs to sing and lessons in humanity to relearn, all made that much more enjoyable by a little food and wine. The weekend of the Jacobs visit, Saturday kiddish was followed by a discussion of the history of anti-semitism, a subject I will return to. After a good attendance for our two Rosh Hashanah services, we were blessed by the visit of Student Rabbi Lev Taylor for Kol Nidre and Yom Kippur. Attendance was even greater and no one left after breaking the fast at the end of Yom Kippur without a smile and, I am sure, a radiance in their eyes. We would definitely like to see Lev Taylor in Cornwall again.
We were able to bring Lev here through our associate membership of the Movement for Reform Judaism. The MRJ also offers workshops, cultural events and training, and provides a channel of communication with Reform communities across the UK. We need to take more advantage of these opportunities, possibly through the Further Education
Grant scheme. At least this year we had our first applicants and three members of the community attended a conversion seminar in Nottingham. This was extremely useful and should help us guide anyone in future who is seriously committed to converting.
The majority of our members do not see what goes on behind the scenes, but without a deal of administrative and organisational work we would have no activities and would risk of falling foul of the law. This year we worked hard to ensure compliance with the new Data Protection Act, which came into force in May. Particular thanks go to Leslie Lipert and Sharim, who agreed to be our Data Protection Officer. We are now compliant. Leslie has besides, continued to ensure that our finances, returns, and community and membership information are safe, up-to-date and in order. Thanks go as well to Pat for another year of informative and entertaining newsletters, for maintaining our library and much else. Thank you, Anne Hearle, who, together with David, ensures that we do not go hungry at our annual seder. Thank you, Adam, who, together with Melanie, ensures that we have an excellent venue for our Club nights, beside being ready to fill the breach wherever it may open up and for being a constant source of good counsel. Thanks to Rachel Brown for helping organise events and for being ready simply to get things done. Rachel is not from New York for nothing! Thank you, Anthony Fagin, for helping, together with Leslie, to maintain our relationship with the Ponsharden Cemeteries project, and for much good sense. And thank you, Bonnie Rockley, who, despite her own and Wilf’s bouts of ill health, despite taking care of numerous grandchildren, manages to attend and contribute to the majority of Council meetings. Thank you, too, to Roger Chatfield for taking on, and engaging with, the role of Security Officer in a spirit of practicality and good humour. Finally, thank you, Harvey, who, although officially retired, continues to provide support and to step into the breach whenever possible.
Despite rising anti-semitism, we remain positive. In a recent online Council discussion prompted by the horrific attack on worshippers in the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Adam wrote, “We live, possibly, in a more gentle corner of the world here in Cornwall.” He went onto say, “My heart says simply carry on just as we are being quietly sensible and vigilant. We must remain gentle in our own community’s actions and try not to too excessively publicise ourselves beyond our own constituency.” I think the word ‘gentle’ is just right. It suggests softness and lightness of touch, but gentleness is also powerful and passionate. And that is what we need. We do not need to stick banners up on every street advertising our comings and goings, but continuing our activities, building relationships with like minded communities and disseminating our values and culture more widely through activities mediated by organisations such as the Faith Forum enable us to do our bit in being a light to the nations and in mending the world.
Jeremy Jacobson, November 2018
Anthony thanked the Chairman for his hard work throughout the year.
4. Secretary’s report
Commented on the improvement in social opportunities that have been arranged
5. Treasurer’s report
Cash Book 67,462.18 (20,341.31 restricted)
Current Account £7467.18
Deposit Account 60,000.00
Pilgrim trust committed £5000
Elm Grant Trust £500Anthony received a letter that Ponshardon cemetery is number 6 ten most irreplaceable sites in England (Faith and Belief Category)
Heritage Lottery has agreed to put up £333,000. This requires match funding. The total needed is £525,000
We are currently short of £8000There are other applications in to cover this amountAnthony thanked Leslie for his hard work and determination.
6. Librarian report (sent by email)
Newsletter. Pat always amazed how much the newsletter evolves each quarter. It would be great to have others to contribute. We have put out 51 issues.
7. Proposed Constitutional Amendments
A note to be added on to paragraph 11 (on the agenda) Proposed Pat, Seconded Harvey. Unanimously agreed
8. Security update
Roger asked for ideas for Security.
Leslie suggested locking the door to the hall. Jeremy and Roger to send a security briefing to the council.
9. Election of Members
Anthony proposed Carolyn to be a member Seconded by
10. Needs of the Community
Road Trip to Bournemouth Shool
Community to pay for minibus
- Chanukah and Purim and Sukkot
To arrange a film and food night based on these holiday
- Should woman wear yarmuka and tallis to read Torah
Agreed as a Reform community to leave it to each person’s choice
- Online Conversion programme
Roger to investigate
- Suggestions on how to celebrate our 20th anniversary
Rachel to send an email asking for suggestions.
Adam suggested that we open out the opportunity to the congregation to prepare a sermon or lead a discussion at the services.
- Chumash’s are very tatty.
Roger suggested removing the covers. Unanimously agreed
Date of Next Meeting Sunday 17th November 2019