Muslim community rallies around synagogue threatened with closure

In a move that has strengthened interfaith relations in the local area, a synagogue in Bradford set for closure has been saved thanks to a successful fundraising campaign led by the local Muslim community

A synagogue in Bradford has been saved from closure thanks to the fundraising efforts of the local Muslim community.

The Bradford Reform Synagogue, a 133-year-old Grade II-listed Moorish building, suffered serious structural damage last year due to a leaking roof. As a result, chairman Rudi Leavor planned to put the building up for sale, a move that would have forced the congregation to travel to Leeds to worship.

However, on hearing the news, members of the local Muslim community including secretary of the Bradford Council for Mosques, Zulfi Karim, started fundraising to help save the synagogue.

“Many people seem to be taken aback that the Jewish and Muslim community are working hand-in-hand, when all you seem to hear about Bradford are the nasty things,” Karim told HuffPost UK. “I really deeply, strongly feel that the way forward is interfaith dialogue – perhaps through food, perhaps through visiting a synagogue or other places of worship.”

Over £2,000 has now been raised by Muslim groups. Together with £103,000 provided by the National Lottery in December 2013, the money will go towards building renovations, improving disabled access and running educational visits for schools.

But the relationship between the religious communities has continued beyond saving the synagogue; local Muslims are now invited to a Jewish Oneg Shabbat (Friday night dinner) and Muslims return the hospitality by inviting Jews to their Ramadan feasts.