Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis speaks in the
now unuseable 70 year old Aberdeen Synagogue
& Community Centre
The UK's most northerly Synagogue faces closure after a devastating flood led to serious damage to the building in Aberdeen's Dee Street.
There has been a Jewish community in Aberdeen since 1893, but now, with the Jewish Festivals only 10 days away, the Synagogue is unable to be used, because, as the community's Debby Taylor says, "Everything is wet, damp and smelly". So there will be no services in the synagogue for the first time since 1945.
Commenting on the flood, the President of the Synagogue, Mark Taylor, said: "This is a devastating blow, but the Community is determined to restore the building and hold together. Being the most northerly Synagogue in the UK, the Aberdeen Community has prided itself on always having Friday night services. It is a shock for this small community of two dozen members to find itself homeless, especially at this time of year with its many festivals."
Two years ago the Community undertook an ambitious programme to renovate and upgrade the Synagogue, including roofing, window repairs, decorating, installing a security and fire system, and rewiring. They were able to hold a wide range of social and religious activities that refreshed and revitalised the community. The building has also provided a welcoming environment for Aberdeen's thriving Jewish Students' Society and the many Jewish and Israeli visitors to the city, as well as being a safe space for members of the Community who feel extraordinarily vulnerable, having been subjected to antisemitic harassment that just this week resulted in a conviction for "racially aggravated conduct intended to cause distress and alarm". Without the shul building, which also includes a communal hall, none of this would be possible, and this tiny community is unlikely to survive.
Because of the costs of these recent repairs, the Community is not in a financial position to meet the large bill caused by the flood, and insurance will only pay around two thirds of the estimated £30,000 cost of drying out and refurbishment. So the community faces a stark choice – close its doors, or raise the funds to repair the damage.
Mark Taylor added: "Aberdeen has generously responded to a call for help. Several churches and other organisations in the city have offered space for our services, and the Community has launched an appeal for donations, which we hope will allow us repair our home