Margate Hebrew Congregation’s Cliftonville Synagogue has been taken out of auction at the eleventh hour, following a campaign to save the building from being sold off for redevelopment.
The sale was due to take place on Wednesday but was stopped following a campaign by local activists to raise £300,000 to convert the building into a Jewish cultural hub for the seaside town.
Francesca Ter-Berg, a klezmer cellist heading the campaign to save the synagogue, said things were “looking positive”, but could not go into further detail as the JC went to press. A crowdfunder set up by the campaign had accrued over £12,000 and the campaign had been seeking the support of private backers.
The building was put on the market after the remaining members could no longer afford its upkeep. With eleven congregants, six of whom are women, they had been unable to have a minyan for several years.
A recent vote saw ten of the 11 in favour of selling.
Geoffrey Gradus, the shul’s chairman, previously said they would maintain the synagogue’s charity with hopes of finding a smaller venue to relocate to. The building, constructed in the 1920s for Jewish holidaymakers, had attracted the interest of two Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregation (UOHC) rabbis, who said the organisation would be “willing and able to take it over” along with the burial society.
Rabbis CD Schlaff and Y Bondi claimed to be trustees of the synagogue — something which Mr Gradus emphatically denied, stating that his solicitor had written to them. He added that they had not been members of the synagogue for a few years and had offered to buy the synagogue last year before backing out. Rabbi Schlaff did not respond to a request for comment.