Birmingham Central Synagogue hosted Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis in its new £1 million shul and community centre on his first regional Shabbat visit since taking office.
He told the 200-strong congregation that it had taken “courage” for the Central to embark on the building project. A post-service lunch marked the formal opening of the Locker Suite.
Addressing the Chief Rabbi, Central president Geoffrey Clements said: “Today you have witnessed a community at the start of a new journey. Like most smaller provincial Jewish communities, our numbers are nothing like they were 50 years ago. We needed to change. It is difficult to create a ruach, an atmosphere, with 100 people davening on a Shabbat morning in a shul built for 700.”
On Sunday, Rabbi Mirvis unveiled a plaque consecrating the new building and Rabbi Chanan Atlas affixed a mezuzah to the front door. While in Birmingham, the Chief Rabbi also toured the local Jewish care home, Andrew Cohen House, and met students at Birmingham Hillel.
Rabbi Atlas said afterwards that the visit reflected “the place smaller communities outside London have in his vision of future UK Jewry.
“Although small in numbers, we have a vibrant and thriving community with committed leadership and a bright future.”
Central’s former synagogue building was sold to a care home developer to fund the redevelopment.