Leicester's Lottery windfall funds synagogue heritage project

A visitors' centre will be built at Leicester Hebrew Congregation as part of a plan to share its history with a wider audience


An educational project administered by Leicester Hebrew Congregation has received £1.157 million of Lottery funding.

The “Sharing Jewish Heritage in Leicester” initiative will enable the synagogue to preserve and celebrate a rich Jewish history at a shul that has served the community since 1897.

Its school rooms will be transformed into a visitors’ centre, responding to high demand, particularly from schools in the locality.

The worship areas and mikveh will also be made available for family activities, research and heritage events.

More than 2,500 people visit the building annually. Existing and new volunteers will be trained to cater for the anticipated increase when the visitors’ centre opens in early 2019. Building work is expected to start this autumn.

The community will need to raise at least £200,000 in additional funding.

Gary Kramer, the synagogue chair, thanked the Heritage Lottery Fund “for seeing our vision and for their support throughout the application process.

“The education of others and personal learning are valued highly within Judaism. The development of an educational suite will provide more than just a taste of our faith.”

The project is being led by Sandra Cohen, who said: “The synagogue is a historic and beautiful building which impresses everyone who visits. This grant will allow us to preserve the fabric and to conserve and showcase the many historic artefacts we possess.” It would also help promote understanding of Judaism in a multicultural city.

For Jonathan Platt, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund for the region, “this multi-faceted project has the potential to protect a significant and much-loved building, while exploring and sharing the rich and valuable contributions of the Jewish community to Leicester’s civic history”.

The shul has around 85 member families, accounting for 200 people.

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