Manchester museum tackles intolerance

By Jonathan Kalmus, March 26, 2009
Worrying sign: “Hamas” scratched on a bench at the museum

Worrying sign: “Hamas” scratched on a bench at the museum

Manchester Jewish Museum received an award for promoting community relations at a civic ceremony marking its 25th anniversary this week.

The vast majority of the museum’s 14,000 annual visitors are non-Jewish schoolchildren, who attend as part of their religious studies syllabus. Many have left their mark by scratching their names on the back benches of the renovated Spanish-Portuguese synagogue. However, the recent etching of “Hamas” on a bench illustrates the need for the museum’s interfaith work.

Recent visitors to the museum have included a year-five group from the Heathfield Junior School in West Yorkshire.

Heathfield deputy head Chris Bouckley said: “This type of trip at a young age takes away stereotyping of other faiths.”

A group of 60 visitors from the predominantly Muslim Manchester Academy in Moss Side — where pupils speak 64 languages — were excited by their first real Jewish experience. “I hadn’t ever spoken to a Jew before today,” said 11-year-old Awad Mohamed.

The award was presented by the North West Multi-Faith Tourism Association.

Last updated: 2:37pm, March 26 2009