We thank Shafi Chowdhury of Surrey, for bringing this cheering news to our attention.
Last year, Rudi Leavor, the 87-year-old chairman of Bradford’s final remaining synagogue, who moved to the city from Berlin as a refugee in 1937, reluctantly proposed to sell the 132-year-old building, forcing the congregation to go 10 miles to Leeds to worship.
In addition to mundane and minor demands such as dry rot removal and boiler replacement, there were structural problems. 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 subscriptions paid by the temple’s 45 members could cover the cost.
One good turn . . .
Leavor had earlier been approached by Zulficar Ali, owner of Bradford’s Sweet Centre restaurant, which is just a few doors away from the synagogue, seeking his help with opposing a planning application. Ali then introduced Leavor to the Carlisle Business Centre, a local social enterprise, which awards grants to worthy causes. They gave several hundred pounds for emergency roof repairs, and a local businessman, Khalid Pervais, donated a further £1,400.
The secretary of a nearby mosque, the owner of a popular curry house and a local textile magnate helped Chairman Leavor to mount a substantial and eventually successful Lottery bid, which – together with £25,000 pledged by Bradford Council – will secure the long-term future of the synagogue.
A historic link discovered
After getting involved, Zulfi Karim, secretary of Bradford Council of Mosques, learned that the mill where his father worked after emigrating from Pakistan in the 1960s was run by a Jewish descendant of Joseph Strauss, the rabbi who founded the synagogue in 1880.
In a joint interview, Karim, said “Rudi is my new found big brother. It makes me proud that we can protect our neighbours and at the same time preserve an important part of Bradford’s cultural heritage.” At the start of December, Karim and other Muslims attended a hanukah service at the synagogue and strongly feel that the way to build tolerance is ongoing interfaith dialogue.
Read more in http://bradfordsynagogue.co.uk/ and the article by Helen Pidd: http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/dec/20/bradford-synagogue-saved-muslims-jews