Celebration held for ‘little miracle’

6:30am Monday 28th June 2010

By Hannah Baker

Members of a once closure-threatened synagogue are holding a celebration to mark the anniversary of a successful survival appeal.

A committee was formed almost year ago at the Bradford Reform Synagogue in Manningham, which costs about £7,000 a year to maintain.

In response to dwindling congregation numbers and finances, members had reluctantly agreed to let the synagogue council sell the building as a last resort.

Rachel Yosef, a member of the synagogue, set up the committee to keep the Grade II listed building open.

To start fundraising, the committee hosted an oneg shabbat, a traditional Friday night celebration, at the synagogue, which soon became a regular event. An anniversary oneg is to be held on Friday, July 23.

The committee also formed the Friends of Bradford Synagogue, which sees participants donate £5 a month to synagogue funds.

Miss Yosef said people from across Bradford, including members of other faiths, had joined the scheme.

She said: “People are committed to keeping a Jewish presence in Bradford.

“Some people taking part have had Jewish ancestors. Others wanted to know the building would be kept open for architectural reasons.

“We have had church groups visiting and have had a lot of support from the Islamic community. There’s a real cross-section of people who are interested. A lot of support has come from outside the Jewish community.”

The synagogue, which was built in 1880, was also awarded a £5,000 grant by regional development agency Yorkshire Forward.

Miss Yosef said: “The difference in the community in terms of optimism is incredible. The older members of the community were at the end of their tether 15 months ago. We are a lot more positive. We have begun to realise how supported we are by the outside community. We thought when we started, at least when it closes we can think we tried. To think we are still here is a little miracle.”

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