In an “amazing act of generosity and friendship”, chaplains from Oxford colleges and other faith groups across the city have raised almost £4,000 towards a new ark for Oxford Jewish Congregation.
“Our previous ark was no longer secure,” explained Isaac Garson, who was responsible for fundraising. “It was not fireproof, waterproof or lockable.”
Hearing about the congregation’s efforts, the Rev Canon Bruce Kinsey, chaplain at Balliol College and chair of Oxford University’s college chaplains group, recognised that the remit of the chaplains group was to serve students of all faiths and none.
“This was an unusual opportunity to put our money where our mouth is,” Canon Kinsey said. “The Jewish Congregation, along with the Jewish chaplain to the university, do much to help support Jewish students. So they become colleagues in our pastoral role.”
Seventeen colleges contributed and churches and a Buddhist group also gave money.
Congregation president Alison Ryde appreciated “both the gift itself and the thoughts behind it. We hope all those who have donated will visit the synagogue and see the new ark, which was made by local designer and furniture maker Robin Furlong. It is really beautiful and we are enormously proud of it.”
A service to celebrate the congregation’s 175th anniversary and the dedication of the ark will take place at the end of February.