Newcastle’s United Hebrew Congregation has reached a deal to sell off part of its property to a retirement development builder.
Anthony Josephs, president of the congregation, confirmed that the shul had “exchanged contracts on a conditional sale”, dependent on “acceptable planning permission.
“The shul was built in the grounds of a large house,” he explained. “We still have the house and that is the hub of the community. It is used on a daily basis for the morning and evening minyans and for a variety of social activities.
“We’re intending to refurbish that house to include the shul, which will accommodate our regular needs.” Mr Josephs added that the current shul — inaugurated in 1986 with 300 seats — had become “cavernous, lacks atmosphere and is a financial drain on the community”. Around 50 people attend on a regular Shabbat and the average age of the congregation is “well into the 70s, if not higher”.
According to Rabbi Aaron Lipsey “Newcastle is doing a terrific job in sustaining interest and activity. For a very small community, I’m sure we’re the envy of many large communities. We have a daily minyan with a little help from our friends in the Gateshead community.”
Regarding the replacement shul, Mr Josephs said they were aiming for a capacity of around 100 seats.