London’s oldest Ashkenazi shul gets financial boost from £1.57bn grant

London’s oldest surviving Ashkenazi synagogue has received a financial boost from the government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund to help fund repairs during the coronavirus pandemic.

Sandy’s Row shul in London’s East End has been awarded £25,000 for essential construction work which will stop water seeping through the roof and eroding the Grade II listed building’s masonry.

Lifeline grants from the Culture Recovery Fund are designed to protect heritage sites and ensure that jobs and access to culture and heritage in local communities are protected during the months ahead.

Harvey Rifkind, Sandy Row’s president, said: “We are delighted to receive his funding from the Culture Recovery Fund.

“It will make a significant difference to the work we need to carry out at Sandy’s Row so the synagogue can continue to play an important part in the life of our community.”

Sandys Row Synagogue is the third oldest in the country.

It was founded in 1854 by 50 Dutch Jewish families who were all economic refugees from Amsterdam.

The Grade 2 listed building was originally a Huguenot chapel built in the 18th century.

The building with its gallery was ideal for the orthodox Jewish community where women sit separately to men during services.

The synagogue has been a continuous place of worship since its inception, not even closing its doors during the two world wars.

It is used from Monday to Thursday for afternoon services and fortnightly for Sabbath services.

It is also used for many multi-cultural community events, educational visits, tours, celebrations such as weddings and Bar-Mitzvahs and fund-raising events.

The shul is independent, self-funded and run entirely by volunteers.

This vital funding comes from a part of the Culture Recovery Fund called the Heritage Stimulus Fund and is administered on behalf of the government by Historic England.

As well as rescuing precious heritage buildings in need, the injection of cash will protect livelihoods for some of the most vulnerable heritage specialists and contractors working in the sector.

Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden said: “These grants will help the places that have shaped our skylines for hundreds of years and that continue to define culture in our towns and cities.

” We’re protecting heritage and culture in every corner of the country to save jobs and ensure it’s there for future generations to enjoy.”

Duncan Wilson, Historic England Chief Executive said: “Historic places across the country are being supported by the Government’s grants awarded under the Culture Recovery Fund. This funding is a lifeline which is kick-starting essential repairs and maintenance at many of our most precious historic sites, so they can begin to recover from the damaging effects of COVID-19. “


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