Liberal community in a survival battle

THE Manchester Liberal Jewish community has appealed for funding in order to stop it from having to cut back on services.

The community, which was set up in 2005, currently provides services just once a month via student rabbi Gabriel Kanter-Webber.

But rising costs and a lack of members paying the full membership cost of £170 per year, means that 2021 could see the community’s activities shrink further.

Trustee and treasurer Phyllis Alden said: “We need £7,500 per year to maintain our current level — £6,000 per year for the rabbis services and £1,500 for room hire at the Cross Street Unitarian Chapel.

“We have around 20 members, and it is very hand to mouth at the minute.

“We do charge for membership, but, like everywhere, not everyone pays the full price, and students and young people don’t pay at all.

“But people pay what they can afford. We’d rather people came even if they didn’t pay, because people make a congregation, not money.”

Rabbi Kanter-Webber currently holds monthly Friday night gatherings, Shabbat morning prayers and discussion classes.

Mrs Alden, who has been involved since the community was founded, added: “We do our best to fundraise with certain events, but we are a very niche community.

“Manchester has a huge Orthodox and Reform community, which is well established, and we meet the needs of those who are looking for something different but highly spiritual, which it is.

“We accept people who others don’t. To grow, you need to provide more, but in our current situation we can’t do that, so we are looking to raise as much as we can. The more we have, the more we grow.”

The community “welcomes” anyone from any background, but especially supports those with disabilities.

And, she said, the community wants far more than what is currently on offer.

Mrs Alden explained: “People want more than just once a month, so with funding, we could have two Friday nights a month, more interesting events and more educational sessions.

“Liberal Judaism’s head office has supported us financially, but that can’t go on forever, and outgoing senior rabbi Danny Rich has been a rock.

“If the worst comes to the worst, we will still find a way of being.”

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