Bradford: a beacon for Muslim-Jewish relations

The city of Bradford is once again a beacon of Muslim-Jewish relations after the city’s Synagogue Council appointed its first Muslim member.

Jani Rashid, who previously stood as a member of the Friends of the Synagogue in Boland Street, is now part of their ruling body following a unanimous vote.

So what motivated this decision? The council saw how a Muslim member of the board would strengthen community links. This sense of shared community renewal is rekindled following the remarkable gesture of solidarity in 2013 when community groups, including Bradford Council for Mosques, saved the city’s only synagogue, after the Grade-II Moorish listed building faced extensive and expensive repairs, beyond the 45-strong congregation.

In a statement, a spokesman told local press: “Jani has been a long-term ally and significant supporter of the synagogue for some years now, as part of an increasingly large group of local Muslims who have supported it in many ways, including with significant financial help,” said the spokesman.

“Over the last few years, as the synagogue has increasingly suffered from financial difficulties, the local Muslim community has been an unfailing partner in the fight to keep the building open and flourishing.”

Data from the last census reveals that Bradford’s Jewish community is 299 but it has maintained strong links with the city since the early 19th Century.

“I am a firm believer in openness within and between communities,” said Mr Rashid in a statement. That message alone should encourage greater dialogue with other faiths (not just Muslim and Jewish). This ripple of good news may yet turn into a wave in other parts of Britain (and beyond).