Interfaith boost as Bradford Synagogue recruits Muslim


A synagogue in Bradford has co-opted a Muslim representative to sit on its ruling body.

It is believed to be the first time a Muslim has held such a role.

Jani Rashid has joined the council of Bradford Reform Synagogue and will help make decisions about the day-to-day running of the building.

The move reflects the strong community links between Jews and Muslims in the west Yorkshire city.

Mr Rashid, head of a diversity department at Bradford City Council, said he was delighted to be joining the synagogue. He said: “I already work with other faith communities across Bradford. This will complement my activities in fostering links within all the communities.”

Mr Rashid helped raise funds to repair the roof of the Grade II-listed building last year when subscriptions paid by the 45-strong congregation could not cover the cost.

Rudi Leavor, the synagogue’s 87-year-old chairman, said: “We’ve been helped by the Muslim community for a few years and we wanted to cement our relationship further so we asked Jani to join our board.

“I’m pretty sure it’s the first time a synagogue has had a Muslim on its council, but why not? He has been a great supporter.

“When there is so much strife in both communities we wanted to show there is no animosity in Bradford. Jani is a nice man and has had a close relationship with us. We want to show the two religions and communities can and will stick together.”

Mr Rashid’s association with the synagogue began when he was a young boy in the 1960s — he would walk past on his way to prayers at a nearby mosque.

He said: “I walked in out of curiosity as a child and was welcomed and shown around. I guess that positive experience has influenced me.

“It is a unique building and it is located right in the heart of the Muslim community. With only 45 of its own members, it is the Muslim community who help protect it and look after the building.

“We’ve never had any graffiti or anything like that. It’s a treasured and respected part of our community and we want to make sure it stays.”

Bradford Synagogue was set up in 1880 and is the oldest Reform shul outside London.

According to the 2011 census, Bradford’s Muslim community, outnumbers the city’s Jews by 129,041 to 299.

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