Huge Lottery Grant Awarded for U.K.’s Oldest Shul

LONDON -
London’s Bevis Marks Synagogue. (John Salmon / Bevis Marks Synagogue)

Bevis Marks Synagogue, in the historic City of London, has been awarded a grant of nearly £2.8 million (over $3.5 million) by Britain’s National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Bevis Marks is the oldest shul in the U.K. and possibly the oldest shul in continuous use in Europe. The current building dates to 1701, and the kehillah was founded by Spanish and Portuguese Jews who came to England when Jews were legally allowed to resettle there in 1656.

The grant will go towards conserving the shul building and creating a new community center which will showcase the shul’s historic Judaica and provide facilities for sharing its history in the context both of local London history and wider Anglo-Jewish history.

The project received initial National Lottery funding in 2017, and this further grant represents around half of the projected £4.6 million ($5.8 million) cost of the whole project.

The chairman of the project, Rony Sabah, said, “The National Lottery Heritage Fund has recognized that this is a vitally important project for the preservation of British Jewish heritage, as well as telling the story about the interconnectivity between British Jews and their neighbors. The British Jewish history of integration and innovation will be brought to life through this new endeavor.”