Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex, visited the Bradford Synagogue on Thursday 14 March where he described the shul’s interfaith work as ‘fantastic’.
It is believed that the royal visit is a first for a synagogue in the north of England.
The synagogue faced closure in 2013 but has survived with the local Muslim community being an unfailing partner in the fight to keep the building open and flourishing. It is thought that the community is the only synagogue with a Muslim member on its council, Jani Rashid who has served since 2015.
The Earl of Wessex took part in a special service at the synagogue alongside members of the community and local faith leaders. He was presented with a silver kiddush cup to mark the occasion by eleven year old Amber Jacobs, the great-great-great granddaughter of Joseph Strauss, the founding rabbi of Bradford Synagogue. Six generations of his family were present at the service.
His great-grandson, Richard Stroud, said: “Bradford’s Jewish population is now below 50. This synagogue is supported by members of the Muslim community. We don’t know what the future of this building is, but by being open-minded, having common values and learning from each other, Bradford can demonstrate to the world what can be done to create harmony in communities. This visit really puts the royal seal of approval on the work being done in Bradford.”
Synagogue Chair Rudi Leavor said: “The synagogue has established enormously close relations with the Muslim community. A few years ago we thought we might have to sell this building. I’m very proud and humbled to have this royal visit today.”
After unveiling a plaque commemorating the visit, Prince Edward said: “It has been brilliant to meet so many of you today, and find out about the work you are doing in a community within communities.
“Keep up the fantastic work. It’s good to know there’s some really positive work here in Bradford, it’s a snapshot of our heritage in this country. I hope you will continue to look after this beautiful building.”
Photos show, pictured from top to bottom:
Left to right: Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, Ed Anderson; Vice President of Leeds Jewish Rep Council and Trustee of The Bradford Synagogue, Judge Laurence Saffer, Prince Edward.
Left to right: Rabbi Douglas Charing, Richard Stroud, Prince Edward and Rudi Leavor.
Left to right: Amber Jacobs and Prince Edward with portrait of Rabbi Dr Joseph Strauss, Bradford’s founding rabbi.
Prince Edward with local faith leaders.