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Ponsharden Open Day Huge Success

Well over two hundred people passed through the Dissenters and Jewish Cemeteries at Ponsharden in Falmouth on Sunday, the 10th of September to learn about their historic roots and the people who are buried there.

Sponsored by The Friends of Ponsharden Cemeteries, the event was held in conjunction with the European Days of Jewish Culture and Heritage and National Cemeteries Week. Restoration is currently underway led by The Friends, the Falmouth Town Council, and Historic England. An application to the Heritage Lottery Fund has been submitted to raise the necessary additional funds.

On hand to guide people through the site were Keith Pearce, local historian and authority on Cornish Jewry, Rob Nunn and Tom Weller, experts on the adjacent Dissenters’ Burial Ground, members of The Friends, and Anthony Fagin, custodian of the Jewish Cemetery. Headphones were provided which contained an audio trail to introduce people to the lives of some of those people buried there created by Ruth Mitchell and Derek Frood of the Ripple Theatre.

Of special interest, was a visit by Kathryn and Elliot Berman from Israel, to visit the graves of Kathryn’s ancestors. Kathryn is a 7th generation direct descendant of Esther Elias who died in 1780. Her burial with an unusual granite headstone is believed to be one of the oldest recorded Jewish burials in Cornwall. Also buried there are her husband, Barnet Levy, as well as some of their children and other members of that family. A special Kaddish was said for the Bermans as well as other memorial prayers.

(Photos of the event taken by Leslie Lipert and Anthony Fagin can be seen in the Photo Gallery)


If you travel around the towns and villages of Britain, you will find in almost all of them one or more memorials to the dead of the First and Second World Wars. This is fitting in a country which lost so many of its citizens and suffered so much privation, in the first case in a war whose rationale the ordinary soldier was hard pressed to understand, in the second in a war for survival against the most evil of regimes. We see these memorials as part of the national landscape, a prop in the background to our lives. Now imagine living in the newly founded state of Israel, after Joshua took the people over the river Jordan. The monuments you would have seen standing at the entrance to the new land, like the British war memorials, built in stone, would have had inscribed upon them texts from Devarim. They would have reminded you of the instructions on how to build a just and harmonious society, of moral laws designed to guide you in the ways of righteousness and of contrasting blessings and curses to be earned for good or bad behaviour. Together with mezuzot, tefillin, tziztit, rituals and festivals, the stones would have been a constant reminder of Israel’s sacred mission. The blessings are as comforting as the curses are terrifying. They are given in Ki Tavo, which is followed by the double parsha for this week of Nitzvaim and Yayelekh.

They are standing, listening to Moses’ final discourse, both those who hear the words at the time they were first spoken and the many, many generations of Jews who have come after, right up to us, and those who will come after us. It is suggested in Nitzvaim that we will forget the covenant, even though it is, or should be, “in your mouth and in your heart”. We will one day choose evil and we will reap the consequences. Yet there is a thread running through the parsha, which is carried along the haftorah, one of Seven Haftarot of Consolation leading up to Rosh Hashanah. As we prepare to repent, or rather to return, to God, the awful curses, the foreboding of future evil, are softened by the promise of a return and of forgiveness. The haftarot, which are beautiful and poetic, all come from Isaiah. Our prophets are poets as well as righteous men.

Vayelekh – “then he went out” – as the first word of the parsha suggests moves towards the future and the impending leadership of Joshua. To find out more of this and of the preceding parsha, come along this Saturday at 10:30 am. Liz Berg will light up the majestic words of two of the most inspiring parshiyot in the Torah.

Ponsharden Open Day

On Sunday, 10 September, from 2-4pm, there will be an Open Day at the Jewish Cemetery and Dissenters’ Burying Ground (also known as Congregationalists) at Ponsharden in Falmouth adjacent to Sainsburys Store. Keith Pearce, historian and authority on Cornish Jewish cemeteries will be on hand to discuss the background and personages buried in the Jewish cemetery and Dissenter historians, Rob Nunn and Tom Weller, will lecture about the adjacent Dissenters Burying Ground. Both cemeteries are presently undergoing restoration led by Falmouth Town Council with the help of  the Friends of Ponsharden Cemeteries. An application to the Heritage Lottery Fund is being submitted to raise the additional necessary funds. The open day is in conjunction with the European Days of Jewish Culture and Heritage.  Parking available at Park and Float/Ride car park.



Have Ark, will travel-Anthony Fagin’s portable Ark which holds our two Torah scrolls, made its debut on Shabbat Mattot-Mas’ei on the 28th of Tammuz, where a Shehechianu was duly pronounced. The Ark, made of plywood with a ceramic crest on top, will be lighter and perfect for the upcoming High Holidays when two scrolls are required. Anthony’s expertise and fine craftsmanship resulted in the perfect solution for housing the two scrolls. Anthony donated the Ark to the KK community for which we are all very grateful. Bravo!