Now 'minyan factory' could close down

By Jonathan Kalmus, August 18, 2011

One of the busiest synagogues in the country has been threatened with closure and needs £200,000 of essential work to its ageing building.

Salford's Machzikei Hadass synagogue, the north west's Chasidic hub since 1940, used daily by around 1,000 people, has been refused insurance and wil need to close unless it completes a £20,000 electrical overhaul. But the MH executive has said that the major works must also include replacing almost all flooring, costing thousands of pounds.

Electrical engineers have begun frantically working to rewire the 8,000 sq ft premises before the High Holy Days amid continuous prayer services which start at 5am.

Fondly known as a "minyan factory", Machzikei Hadass is used by hundreds of congregants to catch the three daily prayers which run repeatedly until midnight. The site also houses four rabbinic colleges, a mikvah and offices for the MH kashrut authority. The synagogue hall, added in the 1970s, hosts over 100 celebration events annually.

The original synagogue building has changed little since it was built, ironically, on the demolished site of the regional headquarters of Sir Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists in 1939. It was bought by Jewish businessman Abraham Jacob Pfeffer after the collapse of the BUF.

Shul is on the site of the former northern fascist HQ

Synagogue treasurer (gabbai) Eliezer Reich said there was "no option" but to complete the electrical work before Rosh Hashanah.

He said: "We are asking anyone who uses the building to donate. The hall needs full modernisation and the floor is absolutely unusable."

The news comes only a week after the Salford Bnos Yisroel school said it was threatened with closure unless it completed £90,000 of electrical work, under pressure from its insurers.

Jon Manson,director of the Manchester branch of the Jelf-Manson insurance group, said that old communal buildings were being affected as underwriters consolidated their risks.

|He said: "More fires are started by faulty electrics than many other causes. It seems insurance companies are applying more stringent rules and are not prepared to take a more liberal attitude in the current financial climate".

Last updated: 12:52pm, August 18 2011