Welcome to moorlane.info

Welcome to the new website for our Synagogue!

We all love the services at Moor Lane. Now there is a website to check the times, read the newsletter and more. There is even a page for links to useful Torah websites. Check out the Navigation Menu at the top of any page.

We hope you enjoy using this website. If there is anything we missed out that you’d like to see here, let us know on the Contact page. Consider adding MoorLane.info to your Favourites so you can easily access it whenever you want.

Our History and Heritage

In the mid-19th century Sephardi merchants were attracted to the North West by the burgeoning Manchester textile trade stimulated by the opening of rail and shipping routes between Britain and the Mediterranean, particularly after the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869.

These were merchants from the Levant and Mediterranean: Daniel Piccioto (Aleppo), Samuel Hadida (Gibraltar); Moses Messulam (Constantinople); Isaac Pariente (Tetuan); Abraham Btesh (Killiz, Syria). Others soon followed and from the 1850s the community started to take shape and names like Besso and Levi from Corfu; the Aleppans, Sharim, Sciama, Setton, Laniado, and Dwek; Cazes, Azulay and Pariente from Morocco; Pinto from London, start to appear in the records. Manchester was such an important connection for these merchants that when a trader had a son born in Aleppo, the words “may he live in Manchester” was added to the traditional blessing for the newborn.

The Sephardi community opened its first synagogue in 1874, Sha’are Tephilah (‘the Gates of Prayer’) the Synagogue of Spanish and Portuguese Jews of Manchester on Cheetham Hill Road under the spiritual authority of the Haham of Bevis Marks.

The prime mover in the construction of the synagogue was David Belisha, grandfather of the Cabinet minister Leslie Hore-Belisha (of Belisha beacon fame) and the first minister was Rabbi Henry Pereira-Mendes who was later called to the pulpit of Shearith Israel, the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue in New York, in 1877. The building was designed by the Jewish architect Edward Salomons in the ‘Saracenic’ Moorish style to harken back to the Iberian roots of the Sephardim.

Due to the decline of the community in North Manchester, the Cheetham Hill building had to be abandoned, the last wedding being held there in 1971 under the auspices of Rabbi Martin Van Der Bergh, himself a son of the venerable Amsterdam community. The building itself, however, was saved and preserved through the determined efforts of a local group of enthusiasts led by Welsh Catholic-born historian Bill Williams. In 1984, it opened as Manchester Jewish Museum.

The community itself has moved into a converted school-house at Moor Lane, Higher Broughton and continues to flourish there with its unique traditions and services.