East End syn­a­gogue is sold to its Mus­lim neigh­bours

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMUNITY - BY SI­MON ROCKER

Fieldgate Street Syn­a­gogue is un­der new own­er­ship — and may be­come a venue for scholas­tic ex­change

THE SALE of an old East End syn­a­gogue to a neigh­bour­ing mosque has been hailed as an ex­am­ple of pos­i­tive re­la­tions be­tween Jews and Mus­lims.

Fieldgate Street Great Syn­a­gogue, which shut ear­lier this year, has been bought by the adjacent East Lon­don Mosque, the largest in the coun­try.

Judge Khur­shid Drabu, a trus­tee of the Joseph In­ter­faith Foun­da­tion, noted that the syn­a­gogue had given their “Mus­lim broth­ers next door” first op­tion on the build­ing.

A few years ago, the mosque gave a grant to the Fed­er­a­tion of Sy­n­a­gogues con­gre­ga­tion to­wards re­pairs.

Judge Drabu said the mosque’s trus­tees were now con­sid­er­ing “keep­ing that syn­a­gogue as a mark of her­itage for Jewish peo­ple and [to] use the cen­tre for scholas­tic ex­change” for peo­ple from dif­fer­ent faiths.

He was speak­ing at a meet­ing of the foun­da­tion chaired by Lord Stone of Black­heath in the House of Lords.

Se­nior imam of the Makkah Mosque in Leeds, Qari Mo­ham­mad Asim, rec­om­mended more joint ac­tiv­i­ties such as the Mitz­vah Day col­lec­tion for refugees in which mem­bers of the lo­cal Mus­lim com­mu­nity were tak­ing part this week­end.

He said his visit to Alyth shul in Gold­ers Green for Yom Kip­pur had been an “eye­opener. It showed good­will and gen­eros­ity from the Jewish com­mu­nity.”

Mus­lims and Jews in Europe “must not see each other only through the lens of the Is­rael and Pales­tine con­flict. I am pleased to say that, in re­cent decades, there have been con­certed ef­forts… to for­ward pos­i­tive re­la­tion­ships. The land­scape is chang­ing, al­beit slowly.”

The Mus­lim com­mu­nity “must not tol­er­ate any com­ments made by Bri­tish Mus­lims who be­lieve in con­spir­acy the­o­ries and claim that things go wrong be­cause of Jews”, the imam added. The Jewish com­mu­nity “must also be less sus­pi­cious, mis­un­der­stand­ing and afraid of the Mus­lim com­mu­nity”.

Echo­ing the call for closer ties, Board of Deputies pres­i­dent Jonathan Arkush said that, “we have no choice. We must deepen Jewish-Mus­lim en­gage­ment and that means not just in the House of Lords, or be­tween mosque and syn­a­gogue in Finch­ley, but places where Jews and Mus­lims don’t nec­es­sar­ily meet each other.”

One univer­sity Mus­lim chap­lain ar­gued that the word “in­ter­faith” held lit­tle ap­peal for young peo­ple and joint so­cial events were more ef­fec­tive. One group of Mus­lim and Jewish stu­dents had re­cently gone paint-balling to­gether.

‘We have no choice. We must deepen en­gage­ment’

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