Muslim photographer’s images of synagogue go on display – Bradford Telegraph and Argus

Posted By on January 28, 2020

AN EXTRAORDINARY photography exhibition of a year in the life of Bradfords last synagogue opens this weekend.

The images, by a Muslim photographer, are going on display at Cartwright Hall along with artefacts from the 140-year-old Manningham synagogue.

The exhibition, called Kehillah, (congregation in Hebrew), captures modern and traditional elements of services at Bradford Tree of Life Synagogue, built in 1880 for German Jewish merchants and their families. The Grade II* listed building, which has a striking Moorish design, is Yorkshires oldest purpose-built synagogue. It was saved from closure in 2013 when the local Muslim community raised funds for roof repairs.

Photographer Nudrat Afza, who came to Bradford from Pakistan as a teenager in the 1960s, was inspired by the close links between the neighbouring Muslim and Jewish communities. A self-taught photographer, she spent a year documenting the Bowland Street synagogue. There are fewer and fewer Jewish people left in Bradford. Its this declining population and disappearing culture that I wanted to document, said Nudrat. Jewish people are such an important part of Bradfords history. Ive spent the past year with the congregation, gaining their trust as they try to keep their place of worship alive. Their commitment has inspired me, as has the coming together of different communities to raise funds for the upkeep of this extraordinary building. This place matters to us all.

The synagogue is the only one in the world with a Muslim on its committee. Its inter-faith work was praised by Prince Edward when he visited the synagogue last year.

Synagogue chairman Rudi Leavor, 93, who left Nazi Germany for Bradford aged 11 with his family in 1937, will be a special guest at the official launch of Kehillah on Sunday. He said: These remarkable photographs taken by an amateur with professional status show not only artistic merit, but also cement co-operation between two faiths which sometimes do not always agree with one another.

"In Bradford overt friendship between the leaders of the Jewish and Muslim communities, as with other local faith communities, is close and rests on excellent foundations.

Nudrat was granted permission by the Rabbi to take pictures before and after services. Her black and white images were taken on a camera given to her by Oscar-winning screenwriter Simon Beaufoy, who contacted Nudrat when she exhibited her photographs of female fans at Bradford City.

Councillor Sarah Ferriby, Bradford Councils Executive Member for Healthy People and Places, said: Were delighted to be hosting Nudrats exhibition at Cartwright Hall. Bradford has a long connection to German Jews in particular as from the 1830s onwards German Jews came to trade in the citys growing woollen industry. Little Germany was built in the 1870s and housed German and other merchants in the city. It was for these merchant families that the synagogue was built.

"The photographs and artefacts tell the story of the Jewish community in the last remaining synagogue in the city.

Artefacts on display include a Shofar, a rams horn blown on Rosh Hashana (New Year) and at the end of Yom Kippur to signify the end of the Fast Day; Megillah, a scroll on parchment; Yad, a silver pointer the end of which is shaped like a hand with extended index finger which the person reading from the Torah uses to indicate the words to be read; Chanukiah, eight-branched candle holders; Prophylacteries, a series of leather straps with a small box on each containing the first paragraph of the Shema, wound round the left arm (to be near the heart) and on the forehead (to be near the brain) of a man reciting his morning prayers; Torah, a scroll on which are written the Five Books of Moses; Kippah, specially created for Prince Edward's to the synagogue; and a prayerbook for weekdays and Sabbaths.

* Kehillah is at Cartwright Hall from February 1 to May 3.

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Muslim photographer's images of synagogue go on display - Bradford Telegraph and Argus

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