Leicester shul's new heritage centre will showcase 200 years of history to the wider community

Orthodox congregation's ambitious project has received £1 million-plus in Lottery support


Leicester’s small Orthodox congregation has celebrated the opening of a heritage centre at its Highfield Street site, showcasing two centuries of local Jewish history.

Sunday’s ceremony, officiated by Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, was the culmination of a ten-year project, supported by a £1.157 million award from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Past and present members of the synagogue also attended, along with local civic and religious leaders.

Welcoming guests, shul chair Anthony Jacobs said its project could be a blueprint for other communities looking to preserve their buildings by opening them up to the wider community.

“Teaching and personal learning are valued highly within Judaism and the development of the educational suite will provide more than just a taster of our faith.” The synagogue already welcomes over 3,000 visitors a year.

The extension has added lifts to all floors, a modern kitchen, improved toilet facilities and spacious eating and meeting areas.

After unveiling a commemorative plaque, Rabbi Mirvis recalled that when he last visited the congregation, “the heritage centre was just a dream. But now we can celebrate its fruition under the inspiring leadership of Rabbi Shmuli Pink.”

He was presented with a copy of a new book, Sharing Our Heritage, which records the contribution of Leicester Jews to the city since the early 1800s.

Welcoming the new centre, Leicester’s Lord Mayor, Councillor George Cole, told the JC: “Religion is a very important part of making society work and by removing the concept of our differences being a tool to divide us, they can and should be used to bring us together.”

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