Four-congregant shul faces £20k roof repairs

By Jessica Elgot, July 13, 2012

A 124-year-old synagogue with just four active members must raise £20,000 to save the roof from collapse.

Grimsby Synagogue had around 400 members in its 1930s’ heyday but the congregation has suffered a gradual decline. President Leo Solomon said many former members now living in London and Manchester retained close links to the shul, the only purpose-built synagogue in Lincolnshire.

“It’s a fairly desperate situation now. We have so few members and we lost two, both well into their 80s, in the last month. But although we don’t have a minyan and have only very irregular services, we want to keep the place open, to show round local schoolchildren and adults and keep it as a historic site.” The Grade II-listed building has been closed since problems with the roof were discovered. “We have been trying for some time to access funds to cover the cost of the work that needs doing but our bid to English Heritage failed,” Mr Solomon explained.

“It is our hope that, if we can carry out the necessary repairs to make the building safe, we should be able to begin again having regular services and our hugely successful visits programme — and to restore the building to some of its former glory.

Ninety-year-old congregant Irene Bowers has spent the past seven months faithfully creating an embroidery of the synagogue’s large stained-glass window.

Mr Solomon said former members often returned for High Holy-Day services, which were led by Board of Deputies vice-president Jonathan Arkush.

Last updated: 2:07pm, July 13 2012