The Synagogue of Plymouth – Extra Info
This beautiful schule was built on the site of a spring used for ritual washing. It was dedicated in 1762 and is in regular use to this day. The interior is striking, with beautiful windows, a gallery and lighting from a huge Victorian brass chandelier. Against the eastern wall is the only full-blooded Baroque Ark surviving in this country, complete with shadow painting of the Hebrew characters.
There is now only a small but dedicated congregation worshipping at this orthodox synagogue, but regular tours are open to the general public.
The Jews of Plymouth were active in many aspects of shipping at Plymouth including financial services. An example is Nelson stating his preference for a Jewish prize agent because they were more honest.
An early and maritime mention of Jews in the South west is from the Log of Sir Francis Drake when he sailed around the world. His quartermaster and navigator was called Moses the Jew from the Barbican, Plymouth.
The first Jew known to have settled in Exeter in modern times was Jacob Monis, a native of Padova in Italy, who advertised his services in 1724 as a teacher of Hebrew, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese.
There are cemeteries in Penzance and Falmouth. Jewish names and words appear tantalisingly in the far west, Marazion and Tamar for examples. Local legend in the Mevagissey area tell of Jewish miners working an open cast water powered system and more generally it was sometimes said the knockers in Cornish tin mines were the diminutive spirits of Jewish miners.