The Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester
Established to develop the cultural and social ties between the Muslim and Jewish communities of Greater Manchester
26 February 2023
In June 2022, a group from the Forum visited Leeds to build acquaintances and to share experiences of Muslim Jewish cooperation in Manchester. Details of that visit are on our page "Forum visits Leeds to share experiences of cooperation."
On Sunday 26 February 2023 there was a reciprocal visit from Leeds to Manchester. In total 23 people, mainly from Manchester but some from Leeds attended the morning part of the tour at the Jewish Museum with a further three guests joining the group later.
The day began at Manchester Jewish Museum on Cheetham Hill Road in Manchester. This building was originally the second oldest Sephardi synagogue in the UK, and lay at the heart of Manchester’s Jewish community. After most of the community moved further north, the building became Manchester Jewish Museum, and has recently been significantly enlarged and refurbished.
Forum Co-Chair Cllr Heather Fletcher welcomed the guests and introduced the guest of honour, Ceremonial Mayor of Salford Cllr Ann-Marie Humphreys. She spoke about the importance of harmony between people of different faiths and the importance of the Jewish community in Salford.
Forum Executive Committee member Cllr Rabnawaz Akbar, who is Muslim, spoke briefly about his community work, mentioning that he was born in Bradford, Yorkshire.
Frank Adam, who is Jewish and a regular volunteer at the Museum gave a detailed talk about its history before the party explored the museum and its mementos of Manchester Jewish history. The highlight of the visit was the lentil soup and bagel lunch, which led to new friendships being made as people chatted about their interests and experiences.
After lunch, the group relocated to Manchester Central Mosque in Victoria Park, which is the oldest mosque in Manchester.
Forum-Co Chair Mohammed Amin briefly mentioned his deep family connections with the mosque, which he has attended since the early 1950’s.
The guest of honour, the Lord Mayor of Manchester Cllr Donna Ludford spoke about the long-standing Jewish and Muslim communities of Manchester and how much they have contributed to the city.
Afzal Khan CBE MP recounted how far the Forum had developed since it was founded in 2005 by him and the late Henry Guterman MBE, past president of the Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester and Region.
Else Prins, former Chair of the Sinai Synagogue in Leeds, who is Jewish and was born in the Netherlands, shared how much the visitors from Leeds had learned from the visit.
Imam Mohamed Fahim Ahmed, who was very knowledgeable despite being quite young, explained the features of the mosque and its prayer hall for the benefit of those visitors who had never previously visited a mosque. He also recounted the significant educational activity at the mosque each day, and the regular flow of converts to Islam.
Mosque General Secretary Umar Qadir outlined the development plans for the building, as there is a significant need for extra space, which needs to be achieved without reducing the on-site parking.
There was then a full tour of the mosque building as well as refreshments generously provided by the Mosque.
Kate Green, Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester said:
"It was great to join the Muslim Jewish Forum on a fascinating day out visiting the splendidly refurbished Manchester Jewish Museum and the beautiful Manchester Central Mosque.
We learnt so much about the similarities in beliefs and practices of these two important world faiths and about the contributions of their communities over the years that continues today to make Manchester a vibrant diverse and welcoming city."
Cllr Jackie Harris, a first-time attender, who is Jewish said:
"The event commenced at the Jewish Museum which I had not seen since its refurbishment. The individual stories with the exhibition about refugees to Manchester evoked memories of my own grandparents who had similar tales to tell.
Visiting the Mosque was a first for me. I had no idea of the splendour and magnificence of the interior or any knowledge of the scope of the religious and community services provided. I found the question-and-answer session with the imam very informative.
I therefore commend the Forum's mission to promote the shared values and traditions of the Muslim and Jewish communities and look forward to attending many future events."
Forum Company Secretary Tahara Amin, who is Muslim, said:
“This was my first visit to Manchester Jewish Museum since the refurbishment, and I was very impressed. I enjoyed talking to our lovely guests from Leeds. Frank Adam’s tour of the Museum and Synagogue building was excellent.
This was also my first visit to Manchester Central Mosque since the coronavirus pandemic and it brought back some memories. For some of our group this was their first time in a mosque and they enjoyed the warm welcome and refreshments.”
The photograph below was taken outside Manchester Jewish Museum. The Ceremonial Mayor of Salford is in front row. On her left is her niece Emma who was carrying out the role of Mayoral Companion.
On the Mayor’s right are:
The photograph below was taken inside Manchester Central Mosque. Heather Fletcher is speaking. To her left is Imam Mohamed Fahim Ahmed.
On Heather's right are:
The Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester
Established to develop the cultural and social ties between the Muslim and Jewish Communities of Greater Manchester