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Birmingham rabbi dies

    Rabbi Jerachmiel Cofnas and some of the hundreds of mourners at his funeral in Manchester last week
    Rabbi Jerachmiel Cofnas and some of the hundreds of mourners at his funeral in Manchester last week

    Rabbi Jerachmiel Cofnas, who served the Birmingham community for 50 years, has died aged 98.

    More than 600 people attended his funeral at Philips Park Cemetery in Manchester on Friday.

    He died at the Beenstock Home in Salford last Wednesday, the first day of Shavuot.

    Rabbi Cofnas was minister for Birmingham's former New Synagogue, but was also a shochet and respected as an expert mohel.

    Born in Vilna, Lithuania, he was renowned as one of the last living students of the famous Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan, the Chofetz Chaim, author of the primary halachic work used by Ashkenazi Jews today.

    At his request, the only speaker at the funeral was his son, Merseyside's Rabbi Lionel Cofnas. He said his father's rabbinical career had spanned more than 60 years, beginning in pre-war Poland and then in Birmingham where he became minister of the then Hurst Street Synagogue in 1938.

    Until recently he was a popular speaker at strictly Orthodox schools and yeshivot in Manchester, where he moved in 1988.

    Rabbi Cofnas said his father was noted as a window into the "vanished past of pre-war Europe", and would be remembered as a respected, although occasionally unpopular rabbi, who "didn't succumb when difficult problems faced communal life".

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