Brick Lane 'hijab' gates to have Jewish Heritage centre close by

By Robyn Rosen, February 18, 2010

A row over proposals to install giant Islamic "headscarf" arches in Brick Lane, the heart of the old Jewish East End, has resulted in plans to create a Jewish East End Heritage Centre.

The arches are part of a £1.85million "culture trail" proposed by Tower Hamlets Council to "reflect the many cultural backgrounds that have occupied and sought refuge" in and around Brick Lane. Also planned is a 30ft minaret outside a mosque.

But the proposals have met opposition from local Jews as well as Muslims, heritage organisations and artist Tracey Emin, who lives near Brick Lane.

Clive Bennington, chairman of the Jewish East End Celebration Society, which has more than 200 members, said: "We were consulted by the council but our views weren't accepted at all. The arches are distinctly Muslim. "It's also a tremendous waste of money for a council that is one of the poorest in Britain. Jews have been there for 400 years and were at the centre of the community. We want that honoured, and that's why we were so appalled."

Jack Gilbert, board member at Sandys Row Synagogue, the last remaining Jewish community organisation in the Spitalfields and Banglatown ward, said: "We discovered that the Jewish community of Spitalfields had been excluded from the planning process leading to the creation of the scheme, and it did not deal with the history of the area appropriately."

According to Mr Gilbert, as a result of the Sandys Row "intervention", a joint feasibility study into a centre has been commissioned by the shul - and funded by Tower Hamlets Council.

The centre, which would be based at the synagogue, will include an archive of Jewish memorabilia.

    Last updated: 4:49pm, February 18 2010