Members of the Leeds community visited Manchester Jewish Museum in a reciprocal visit.
In June 2022, a group representing the Greater Manchester Muslim and Jewish Forum visited Leeds to build acquaintances and to share experiences of Muslim Jewish cooperation in Manchester. On 26th February 2023 there was a reciprocal visit from Leeds to Manchester. In total 23 people attended the morning part of the tour at Manchester Jewish Museum with a further three guests joining the group later.
The day began at the museum on Cheetham Hill Road in Manchester. This building was originally the second oldest Sephardi synagogue in the UK and lay at the heart of Manchester’s Jewish community. After most of the community moved further north, the building became Manchester Jewish Museum, and has recently been significantly enlarged and refurbished thanks to lottery funding.
Forum Co-Chair Cllr Heather Fletcher welcomed the guests and introduced the guest of honour, Ceremonial Mayor of Salford Cllr Ann-Marie Humphreys. She spoke about the importance of harmony between people of different faiths and the importance of the Jewish community in Salford.
Forum Executive Committee member Cllr Rabnawaz Akbar spoke briefly about his community work, mentioning that he was born in Bradford.
Frank Adam, a Jewish volunteer at the Museum gave a detailed talk about its history before the party explored the museum and its mementos of Manchester Jewish history. The highlight of the visit was the lentil soup and bagel lunch, which led to new friendships being made as people chatted about their interests and experiences. After lunch, the group relocated to Manchester Central Mosque in Victoria Park, which is the oldest mosque in Manchester.
The guest of honour, the Lord Mayor of Manchester Cllr Donna Ludford spoke about the long-standing Jewish and Muslim communities of Manchester and how much they have contributed to the city while Else Prins, former Chair of the Sinai Synagogue in Leeds, shared how much the visitors from Leeds had learned from the visit.
“It was great to join the Muslim Jewish Forum on a fascinating day out visiting the splendidly refurbished museum and the beautiful Manchester Central Mosque. We learnt so much about the similarities in beliefs and practices of these two important world faiths and about the contributions of their communities over the years that continues today to make Manchester a vibrant diverse and welcoming city,” said Kate Green, Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester.
Cllr Jackie Harris, a first-time attender said: “The event commenced at the Jewish Museum which I had not seen since its refurbishment. The individual stories with the exhibition about refugees to Manchester evoked memories of my own grandparents who had similar tales to tell. Visiting the Mosque was a first for me. I had no idea of the splendour and magnificence of the interior or any knowledge of the scope of the religious and community services provided and commend the Forum’s mission to promote the shared values and traditions of the Muslim and Jewish communities and look forward to attending many future events.”