Jewish Heritage UK director Dr Sharman Kadish has launched a campaign to attract £2 million to restore crumbling historic synagogues and preserve them as national heritage sites.
Dr Kadish - who has been working with English Heritage for more than 30 years - wants to create a Jewish fund which would help synagogues and cemeteries of historical interest finance upkeep and repairs. It follows her report for English Heritage last year which found only three of 37 historical synagogues in England in "good" condition. Many were rated as being in a "poor" state. Cemeteries and synagogues in Manchester and Liverpool have had to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds in recent years to fund upkeep. A harsh financial climate has made publicly funded grants tougher to win.
She secured £180,000 from English Heritage and a private Jewish foundation to maintain Jewish Heritage UK over the next three years. It has just opened offices in central Manchester, having lost its former place at Manchester University's Centre for Jewish Studies due to funding cuts.
"Heritage and cultural things tend to come low down on the pecking order of Jewish charities," Dr Kadish noted. "We are here to say it actually is important. But we are currently running on a very tight budget."