Cul­ture vul­tures can­not get enough of our her­itage

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMUNITY NEWS - BY JC RE­PORTER

CONGREGATIONS ALL over the coun­try have opened their doors to the wider com­mu­nity as part of B’nai B’rith UK’s an­nual Euro­pean Days of Jewish Cul­ture pro­gramme.

Chel­tenham He­brew Con­gre­ga­tion at­tracted more than 150 peo­ple to an open day and an­other 50 to a talk by Leonard Bazar on the Jewish di­as­pora in the UK. The vast ma­jor­ity of vis­i­tors were non-Jews.

The turnout was tes­ta­ment to the in­volve­ment of Chel­tenham chair Jenny Sil­ver­ton in her­itage pro­mo­tion in the area.

Ply­mouth Sy­n­a­gogue — the old­est Ashke­nazi shul still in reg­u­lar use in the English-speak­ing world — ran a tour for guests from a va­ri­ety of re­li­gious back­grounds.

In Le­ices­ter, the 60 guests at the event at the Ortho­dox sy­n­a­gogue were all non-Jews. The at­ten­dance was dou­ble that of last year and in­cluded peo­ple whose cu­rios­ity was aroused by the bunting and bal­loons out­side. Some said they had reg­u­larly passed the build­ing with­out re­al­is­ing what it was.

At Read­ing He­brew Con­gre­ga­tion — where a ma­jor restora­tion of its cen­tury-old roof is near­ing com­ple­tion — the shul wel­comed more than 80 vis­i­tors and gained ad­di­tional ex­po­sure through a lo­cal ra­dio piece.

A B’nai B’rith group went to Manch­ester to learn about the sci­en­tific achieve­ments of Chaim Weiz­mann,

Dressed to thrill in Chel­tenham; the Manch­ester tour party; He­brew manuscripts at the Bri­tish Li­brary; a guided walk group out­side the for­mer Leeds Jewish In­sti­tute and a warm wel­come in Read­ing

Is­rael’s first pres­i­dent, in his days in the chem­istry depart­ment of Manch­ester Univer­sity. Dr Weiz­mann was also a mem­ber of the Manch­ester B’nai B’rith lodge.

Among the cap­i­tal’s most popu- lar events was a guided tour of the He­brew man­u­script dis­play in the Bri­tish Li­brary. The Jewish Mu­seum or­gan­ised a fam­ily ac­tiv­ity and at West Lon­don Sy­n­a­gogue, a mul­ti­faith panel from di­as­pora com­mu­ni­ties dis­cussed their ex­pe­ri­ences of liv­ing in Bri­tain.

Va­lerie Bello, B’nai B’rith’s cul­ture days co-or­di­na­tor, said at­ten­dances re­flected the in­creas­ingly sig­nif­i­cant role her­itage plays in Bri­tish life. The ac­tiv­i­ties also served to “strengthen peo­ple’s con­nec­tion with their lo­cal­ity.

“We’re al­ways de­lighted when the po­ten­tial for interfaith un­der­stand­ing is achieved, as well as pro­vid­ing a rare op­por­tu­nity for our own com­mu­nity to ex­plore our her­itage.”

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