The rabbi of Manchester Reform Synagogue has welcomed a city-centre redevelopment by former Manchester United and England captain Gary Neville that will see his shul torn down and a new one built.
Speaking to Manchester Evening News, Rabbi Dr Reuven Silverman was satisfied with the plans, arguing that the community needed a new fit-for-purpose building anyway, and that the stained glass window from the current building will be transferred.
Manchester’s first post-war shul is the second oldest of its kind in the country and was funded by war reparations, its windows being among the earliest examples of figurative stained glass in a Jewish place of worship in the UK.
Opposition to Neville’s proposals has come from heritage campaigners, however, who are now applying to have the shul listed to save the synagogue – together with a nearby police station and pub – from being demolished.
Catherine Croft, director of the Twentieth Century Society, warned against “short-termism,” saying: “We don’t want buildings to survive as decaying monuments, rather we want to see them brought back into use so they can make a positive impact on the environment. We do not need to demolish great architecture to allow room for innovation and economic growth.”