On 30 January, 2022 Kehillat Kernow, the Association of Jewish Refugees (AJR), the Cornwall Faith Forum (CFF) and local people converged on the historic Cholera Field at Paul, near Mousehole in Penwith to plant an oak tree. The tree is one of eighty being planted around the UK to mark places where Jewish people have been given homes and shelter. Paul is one of these places as, together with Mousehole, it offered homes to 100 children and 5 teachers from the Jews Free School in East London in 1941 when they were evacuated because of the Blitz. Their stories are recorded in From East End to Lands End by KK member and local author Susan Soyinka
The tree was planted by another KK member, David Hearle, with help provided by children from Mousehole School. One Mousehole resident, Melvia Williams, who remembered the Jewish children’s arrival ‘as if it was yesterday’ attended the ceremony and spoke of a warm coming together of the two groups of children. Besides the tree planting itself, the ceremony included welcome speeches by CFF Head and Priest in Charge at Paul Church Andrew Yates and by KK Chair Jeremy Jacobson, talks by AJR representative (and coincidentally KKK member) Dr Bea Lewkowicz and by Susan Soyinka, plus the recital of Psalm 104 by everyone, a moving rendition of El Malei Rachamim by KK Vice-Chair Adam Feldman and, finally, the Priestly Blessing recited in Hebrew by Adam and in English by Andrew.
After the ceremony, which was attended by around 100 people, Kehillat Kernow, together with Paul Church, invited the attendees to an informal lunch of Cornish pasties (vegetarian included!) tea, coffee and wine. The ceremony was a great success, bringing together communities and organisations in an affirmation of chayim (life) and chesed (loving kindness).