Monday, July 07, 2008

First Jewish place of worship in Liverpool - plaque unveiled today by Lord Mayor

I was pleased and frankly, felt quite honoured today, to be invited to the unveiling of a plaque in the MetQuarter in Liverpool city centre, to recognise that on that site once stood the first ever place of worship for the Jewish community in Liverpool.

Seel Street is recognised as the first purpose built Jewish Synagogue but it seems that the MetQuarter location, which is now completely different from the old street maps that Councillor Peter Millea thoughtfully provided, was there first.

It was around 1750, give or take, when a small cottage with a small yard acting as a burial ground, was founded here for the new Jewish community by Joseph Clegg who became Mayor of Liverpool. After a short time the area became known as Synagogue Court.

Thanks to Peter Millea's good work, this site has now been officially recognised and we had a short but quite moving ceremony today to unveil the plaque.

The Lord Mayor, Councillor Steve Rotheram, drew back the curtain over the plaque and made a short speech. He was followed by Peter who explained the background to the site, which was very interesting. Thanks to him and his staff and the archivists for doing the ground work.

Then one of the few Freemen of the City of Liverpool, Rex Makin, made a speech, setting the site in context and talking about some of the more famous Jews involved in the early stages of their settling in Liverpool.

I was invited by both Peter and Rex to attend because of the work we have been doing in Deane Road Jewish Cemetery in Kensington (which was considered to be in Fairfield when it was built).

As well as the Lord Mayor, Councillor Peter Millea and Rex Makin, the others present were Jewish Councillors, the Rabbi, Council staff from the Equalities department and members of the Jewish congregation. There are lots of criticisms and very few praises in the politics game, so to be name-checked by a man as important as Mr Makin, not once but twice in a few days has really moved me. He acknowledged our small committee's work in Deane Road cemetery in his Echo article on Saturday and again today in his speech.

As you know, I am not Jewish, I am a Methodist. But I do believe the Liverpool Jewish community has, over 250 years, achieved the most wonderful things and I am priveleged to be however remotely associated with them.

Plus of course I am a time-served genealogist - 25 years this year - and so I have some insight into the work required to make ancient burials relevant for today's descendants.

1 comment:

scouseboy said...

It just goes to show how diverse this city is.