MOOR LANE / MANCHESTER
We are a growing, very warm, friendly and welcoming community. Our synagogue is family-oriented with a diverse membership making newcomers feel welcome.
Ours is the only Sephardi Bet Knesset in North Manchester hosting all Tefilot (prayer services) on Shabbat as well as weekdays.
In the mid-19th century Sephardi merchants were attracted to the North West by the burgeoning Manchester textile trade stimulated by the opening of rail and shipping routes between Britain and the Mediterranean, particularly after the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869.
These were merchants from the Levant and Mediterranean: Daniel Piccioto (Aleppo), Samuel Hadida (Gibraltar); Moses Messulam (Constantinople); Isaac Pariente (Tetuan); Abraham Btesh (Killiz, Syria). Others soon followed and from the 1850s the community started to take shape and names like Besso and Levi from Corfu; the Aleppans, Sharim, Sciama, Setton, Laniado, and Dwek; Cazes, Azulay and Pariente from Morocco; Pinto from London, start to appear in the records. Manchester was such an important connection for these merchants that when the son of a trader was born in Aleppo, the words “may he live in Manchester” was added to the traditional blessing for the newborn.
The Sephardi community opened its first synagogue in 1874, Sha’are Tephilah (‘the Gates of Prayer’) the Synagogue of Spanish and Portuguese Jews of Manchester on Cheetham Hill Road under the spiritual authority of the Haham of Bevis Marks.
The prime mover in the construction of the synagogue was David Belisha, grandfather of the Cabinet minister Leslie Hore-Belisha (of Belisha beacon fame) and the first minister was Rabbi Henry Pereira-Mendes who was later called to the pulpit of Shearith Israel, the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue in New York, in 1877. The building was designed by the Jewish architect Edward Salomons in the ‘Saracenic’ Moorish style to harken back to the Iberian roots of the Sephardim (the banner at the top of this page shows the Luchot above the Hechal in the old building).
Due to the decline of the community in North Manchester, the Cheetham Hill building had to be abandoned, the last wedding being held there in 1971 under the auspices of Rabbi Martin Van Der Bergh, himself a son of the venerable Amsterdam community. The building itself, however, was saved and preserved through the determined efforts of a local group of enthusiasts led by Welsh Catholic-born historian Bill Williams, and opened in 1984 as Manchester Jewish Museum.
The community itself has moved into a converted school-house in Moor Lane, Higher Broughton and continues to flourish there under its newly appointed Rabbi Nir Nadav.
(from the synagogue website: http://www.moorlane.org/about-us/)