On 9th June, 2003 an historic event took place in Truro. For the first time in many, many years (possibly for the first time ever!) the Chief Rabbi paid an official visit to the Jewish Community of Cornwall. Accompanied by Rev. Malcolm Weisman (Ministering Rabbi for small communities) and half a dozen policemen, Chief Rabbi Dr. Jonathon Sacks arrived at the Brookdale Hotel in Truro as part of his tour of the South West. He immediately asked to be introduced to each member present and shook hands and chatted with at least fifty people. Thus he made a roomful of people feel instantly happy and relaxed on their own territory!
I then had the pleasure of introducing him formally to the group as a whole and, at the same time, on behalf of Kehillat Kernow, presented the Chief Rabbi with our own Cornish Mezuzah, an extremely rare and precious gift. He was suitably impressed (I hope).
Malcolm Weisman then said a few words about the tour which had already included visits to Exeter and Plymouth.
Dr. Sacks then gave a talk about the current state of affairs in the World with particular reference to Israel itself, and he exhorted us to continue to give Israel our support, suggesting, that, if it were possible, as many of us as possible should show that support in the most practical way of all – by visiting Israel regularly.
It was not all serious, however, and the more humourous side of the Chief Rabbi’s nature came across as he told us a number of genuinely amusing stories.
At the end of the session he answered a few questions, signed several copies of ‘The Dignity of Difference’, and then was whisked back to London by his security team.
Everyone I spoke to later seemed inspired or moved in some way by the visit. Certainly as a group which finds itself geographically isolated at least, we were enriched. We look forward to a return visit some time in the future.