Shul on the market? It's news to chairman

By Jessica Elgot, April 7, 2011

Peterborough Synagogue has been advertised for sale by the United Synagogue, to the surprise of its chair and lay leader.

Charles Salamon said US management had told him the building in Cobden Avenue was to be sold and estate agents had visited four weeks ago to look over the property.

But he was unaware things had gone further until a congregant showed him a story in the local paper, reporting that it was on the market for £75,000. It was described as "suitable for a variety of uses, including children's nursery, community centre, health centre and for educational purposes".

Mr Salamon said: "They told us late last year they wanted to sell the place and I've had meetings with community services director David Kaplan and chief executive Jeremy Jacobs. But we have not had any official notification from the estate agent that the building has gone on the market."

When first told the building was going to be sold, "it was such a shock - I was disgusted. It felt like we were being evicted. But there wasn't a lot we could do about it. Last time we met, David Kaplan was keen to get things moving. It seems 57 years [in the building] doesn't count for anything."

It felt like we were being evicted

Although the synagogue has only 10 official members, Mr Salamon said its monthly services always attracted a minyan. "We're currently looking for alternative premises and have been offered a church hall."

Mr Salamon, an American, came to Peterborough 54 years ago and runs the building and services with his wife Beryl, whose grandfather founded the shul. At its peak, it had 100 members but the congregation has dwindled steadily.

A US representative said: "The membership of the Peterborough community is now very small, so the decision was made to relocate the community.

"Together with the chairman of the synagogue, the US identified a smaller and more modern venue closer to where some of the members live and will continue to provide support for the community's activities and finances."

Last updated: 2:23pm, April 7 2011