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Bringing communities together in Manchester

Last Shabbat saw the culmination of mutual endeavour between communities to ensure that a ‘weekend of twinning’ between Manchester Reform Synagogue and Manchester Central Mosque was successful.

The Weekend of Twinning is an annual event held every November spearheaded internationally by the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU) during which thousands of Muslims and Jews link up in more than 30 countries to hold joint events.

Mosques and synagogues, Muslim and Jewish student groups, young leadership bodies and women’s organizations ‘twin’ with each other in cities around the world and hold encounters focused on celebrating commonalities in our two faith traditions, standing together against Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, and performing acts of social service together in recognition of the common moral imperative in both Islam and Judaism; helping those most in need.

Last year Higher Crumpsall and Yeshurun Orthodox synagogues in Manchester welcomed Muslims to their services. Rabbis Arnold Saunders and Daniel Walker were in the forefront of these events.

Last Shabbat it was the turn of Manchester Reform Shul to visit the Victoria Park Mosque with Rabbi Silverman on Friday, and a number of their members visited the Jacksons Row (Manchester Reform) Shul on Shabbat morning. There was much interest in Mitzvah Day, particularly in relation to the cleaning up of cemeteries where there is a commonality of interest with regard to desecration of headstones by vandals.

The Manchester Interfaith Centre through Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar of Manchester City Council organised the event. It was also supported by Jonny Wineberg, Advisor to ‘Faith Network 4 Manchester’ who is also Co-Chair of the Muslim Jewish Forum Greater Manchester and Vice-President of the Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester and Region. It was a non-political event, and very much regarded as an opportunity to get to know people who we rarely meet, yet have much in common. In the midst of many demonstrations seen recently in Manchester city centre, Rabbi Silverman and Councillor Akbar brought communities together by extending hands of peace.

As Rabbi Silverman says: “any disturbance between our communities is from those who are prejudiced: ‘It is the prejudices we have to address, the fears, the phobias. We raise the general level of community cohesion the more we meet together and build bridges between us.”

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