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Bradford synagogue saved by city’s Muslims

Bradford Synagogue

Zulfi Karim, secretary of Bradford Council of Mosques, and Rabi Rudi Leavor inside Bradford Synagogue. Photograph: Gary Calton

Bradford synagogue saved by city’s Muslims

 

It was around this time last year that the trustees of Bradford’s final remaining synagogue faced a tough choice. The roof of the Grade II-listed Moorish building was leaking; there was serious damage to the eastern wall, where the ark held the Torah scrolls; and there was no way the modest subscriptions paid annually by the temple’s 45 members could cover the cost.

Rudi Leavor, the synagogue’s 87-year-old chairman, reluctantly proposed the nuclear option: to sell the beautiful 132-year-old building, forcing the congregation to go 10 miles to Leeds to worship.

It was a terrible proposition, coming just after the city’s only Orthodox synagogue had shut its doors in November 2012, unable to regularly gather 10 men for the Minyan, the quorum of 10 Jewish male adults required for certain religious obligations.

But rather than close, Bradford Reform Synagogue’s future is brighter than ever after the intervention of Bradford’s Muslim community, which according to the 2011 census outnumbers the city’s Jews by 129,041 to 299.

A fundraising effort – led by the secretary of a nearby mosque, together with the owner of a popular curry house and a local textile magnate – has secured the long-term future of the synagogue and forged a friendship between Bradfordian followers of Islam and Judaism. All things being well, by Christmas the first tranche of £103,000 of lottery money will have reached the synagogue’s bank account after some of Bradford’s most influential Muslims helped Leavor and other Jews to mount a bid.

This burgeoning relationship is perhaps unexpected. When David Ward, one of the city’s MPs, had the Liberal Democrat whip withdrawn over disparaging remarks about “the Jews” and Israel as an “apartheid state”, he was publicly supported by many of his Muslim constituents. George Galloway, the Respect MP for Bradford West and an open opponent of Israel, has organised convoys to Gaza and was praised by many of his voters after refusing to engage in a debate with an Israeli student at Oxford University earlier this year.

The cross-cultural co-operation is warmly welcomed by Leavor, who moved to the city from Berlin as a refugee in 1937. “It’s fantastic,” he said this week, in a joint interview with Zulfi Karim, secretary of Bradford Council of Mosques. “Rudi is my new found big brother,” said Karim, who is on the board at the central Westgate mosque a few hundred metres up the road from the synagogue. “It makes me proud that we can protect our neighbours and at the same time preserve an important part of Bradford’s cultural heritage.”

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  • Laila Muhammad

    Not surprising…we remember caliphate omar reopening jerusalem to jews after a 500 yr ban by the romans who razed the temple in 70 ad….we remember the moslem turks in 1492 sending ships to bring over the jews from spain who were told to ‘convert leave or die’…muslim/jewish conflict is a result of 1948 a land dispute

  • mindy1

    Just saw a story about a Muslim man in the U.K. who refused to sel alcohal, the store is experiencing a backlash, expect the loons to go crazy
    http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/12/23/22021111-uk-retailer-ms-faces-boycott-after-muslim-worker-refused-to-sell-alcohol?lite

  • Reynardine

    And here is another one: Canaveral’s carnival meets the Solstice dawn.

  • mindy1

    Why not? let’s see what happens

  • The greenmantle

    Well said Nur
    One step at a time . Fighting the demonisation of muslims . Some of the people will start the long journey towards seeing muslims as people not as the other .
    It reminds me of Football in the UK . In the 60s there were only a couple of black players and the abuse they recieved was horrific . Yet now racist abuse is rare enough to be commented upon when it happens . This did not happen overnight .
    Sir David

  • Rights

    From all I can tell the Muslims’ effort was genuine, and from the heart. I think we must let it be that way. Why destroy a good deed by expecting reciprocity? My understanding of good deeds from Islam is that you do them from the heart to help, and to please Allah. I admire the Muslims who did this.

    As for opposing Israeli oppression of the Palestinians, we all need to oppose that oppression on its own merit.

  • Nur Alia binti Ahmad

    That was stupid

    How do you know that they don’t? People don’t stop hating by policy, they stop by personally getting involved, one step at a time.

  • sasboy

    Will the synagogue reciprocate the goodwill by opposing Israeli persecution of Palestinians ? I would not hold my breath.

  • Reynardine

    Me too!

  • mindy1

    I wish I was in that picture :(((

  • mindy1

    Awww I love interfaith acts 😀 😀 why can’t it always be this way???

  • Reynardine

    I will simply wish a non-sectarian happy Solstice to you all!

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