Prince Charles to be patron of Bevis Marks shul heritage appeal

Prince Charles to be patron of Bevis Marks shul heritage appeal

Heir to the throne’s support for conservation project with centuries-old Grade I-listed ‘Cathedral synagogue of Anglo-Jewry’ heralded as a ‘welcome boost’

Prince Charles
Prince Charles

Prince Charles is to be Patron of the Bevis Marks Synagogue Appeal, raising funds for the development of the Grade I-listed “Cathedral synagogue of Anglo-Jewry”.

A known friend of the Jewish community, the Prince of Wales was quick to accept the invitation to help raise money to protect the fabric of the 318-year old central London building, which is the oldest synagogue still in continuous use in Europe.

The appeal, which has been established under the auspices of the Bevis Marks Synagogue Heritage Trust, is raising funds for the synagogue’s new religious, educational and cultural centre.

Acknowledging that Bevis Marks is of “unique, historical, architectural and emotional significance to the British Jewish community,” the National Lottery Heritage Fund last month awarded it a £2.8 million grant.

The planned new visitor centre will tell the story not only of the enigmatic Sephardi shul but of the Spanish & Portuguese Jews’ Congregation (S&P Sephardi Community).

A ceremony at the Spanish and Portuguese Jews Congregation, at Bevis Marks Synagogue, London.
(C) Blake Ezra Photography 2015.

Jews of Iberian heritages were among the first to be readmitted to the UK by Oliver Cromwell in 1656, after Jews were expelled by the king three centuries earlier, so the synagogue’s story is that of the founding of today’s British Jewish community.

Rabbis and scholars will draw on the synagogue’s Judaica collections and the oral histories of members as well as an accessible digital archive to tell the story of the Jewish experience in London, including the community’s East End origins.

“Britain has been good to the Jews, and the Jews good to Britain,” said Rabbi Dr Abraham Levy, who led Bevis Marks for more than 50 years. “The Prince’s support is a welcome boost for the synagogue where the British Jewish experience has played out for over 300 years.”

Adam Musikant, coordinator of the Bevis Marks Synagogue Appeal, said the synagogue has “not just been a focal point for Jewish life in the UK, but for the wider communities with which it has interacted,” adding: “We look forward to developing a religious, cultural and educational centre to tell its unique story.”

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