Jackson’s Row, Manchester City Centre’s only synagogue, has closed the ark doors for the final time to make way for the multi-million pound redevelopment backed by the former footballer, Gary Neville.
It was a roller coaster weekend for our members as we commemorated the end of 70 years in our building. It was marked by a special Shabbat service on the Saturday and a civic Farewell Service on the Sunday with prayers, songs and reflections. It ended with a procession of all the Torah scrolls being carried out of the sanctuary.
The building holds many memories for members and represents the community’s spirit having been the first new building built in Manchester after the Second World War. Our original home had been bombed in June 1941 during the Manchester blitz. Members acknowledged it had been very emotional time with some very special moments but also an exciting one to be able to walk away from a building that had become too costly to repair and with sufficient funds to ensure a bright future together in a new home.
JR President, Jane Black, said “one of the most memorable things about the weekend for me was having achieved a real sense of occasion. A great deal of hard work went into the preparations – but I felt it was a very successful, happy, as well as emotional time”.
Rabbi Robyn spoke for many when she said, “Leaving has really mixed emotions as it’s been a home since childhood for me and many members of the community but it’s also a very exciting and unusual chance for a religious community to have the opportunity to invest in its future to find something new that works for us in Manchester and demonstrates our mark on the city”.
JR is the second oldest reform community in the UK. For the time being we will hold services at our temporary base just over a mile away. Soon we will start our consultation exercise to determine a new home for our members.
News of our closing was carried across the media from the Jewish Telegraph to the Daily Telegraph and included BBC TV and BBC Radio 2 as well as the Manchester Evening News.