Bury & District Jewish Community pioneers
on the site of the proposed shul in 1965
Jewish families started to move further north of
Manchester in the early 1960's and by 1964 a small community had gathered
in the Sunnybank area of
close to Manchester Road. With the advent of new homes being built on farm land beyond
the Library, there was an influx of new Jewish families into
the area. As a result a meeting was held at Blackford Bridge Reform Church
and plans were laid to purchase land to build a small synagogue.
night and Shabbos services were conducted in individual members' homes.
Subscriptions were "half a crown" per week. A blanket policy with an
insurance company was arranged to cover burials - and so families with
"Shul" membership plus burial was initiated. Members of a small council
collected weekly subscriptions to build up a fund to enable us to buy,
build or rent a shul. Enthusiasm was great with the formation of a Fund
Raising Committee. The Ladies Committeewas formed and initiated many
fund raising functions.
Negotiations commenced and after some hard bargaining a piece of derelict land, approximately one and
a quarter acres was purchased at the corner of Manchester Road and Sunnybank
Road as the site for the new Shul. Rosh
Hashanah and Yom Kippur services that year were held in the
hall of the United Reform Church at Blackford Bridge, with
borrowed Sifrei Torah. Chanukah services and children's parties
were held at the Sunnybank Community Centre. Weekend services
continued to be held in the members' homes.
1965 was a year of real progress. In February signs were erected, proudly announcing that the
"Bury & District Jewish Community" had arrived. On June 18th the Turf
Cutting Ceremony and Consecration by Dayan Golditch took place. A prefabricated
building was purchased at a cost of £5,000 and was rapidly
furnished. At the first High Festival services in the new
building in September 1965, over 120 people attended in a
charged atmosphere. The name of the congregation was officially
changed to become "The Bury Hebrew Congregation". Daily services
were conducted by two teenagers - Stephen Lewis (later to
become a Rabbi) and Harvey Rosenfield.
The congregation continued to grow and it was decided
that a part-time minister was required. David Grunsfeld, who lived with his parents in Broughton Park,
was appointed, and he also became the headmaster of the
cheder. His appointment took place in 1967 and he walked to
Bury every Shabbos. In 1982 he made Aliyah.
1966 saw a high demand for the formation of a nursery and for many years a very successful nursery took place every
weekday morning from 10.00am to 12.15pm under a series of
very capable fully trained teachers, with over 30 children
attending on a regular basis. This Nursery, plus the Nursery
from Whitefield shul, was the basis for the start up of
Bury and Whitefield Jewish
Primary School in 1984.
1969 - The "prefab" was in daily use for services,
cheder, fund raising and small functions - jumble sales etc.
and the membership was growing rapidly. It soon became
necessary to provide an Overflow Service on the High Festivals
so another temporary "prefab" was erected at
the rear of the Shul.
By the mid 70's it
was apparent that the "prefab" was inadequate for the size of
congregation. Plans were drawn up and architects instructed and a
"Building Fund Committee" formed to build a new Shul with offices,
entrance hall, kitchen, toilets, cloakrooms etc. for around £65,000.
At an Extraordinary
General Meeting the community feared the financial implications
of such a large debt and voted to build the Shul complex in
three stages. The first stage, i.e. the shul, offices, entrance
hall and toilets, with a passageway joining the main synagogue
to the prefab was approved.