South Manchester – Sha’are Rahamim, Hayim and Zedek


New Sha’are Zedek in Hale Barns

South Manchester will soon be home to the first Sephardic synagogue constructed in England in decades. I received a sneak peek at its construction when I went to Manchester before Pesah to speak for the organization Shema. Rabbi Amir Ellituv was kind enough to pick me up from the train station and show me around Jewish South Manchester prior to my speaking engagement. He then gave me a behind the scenes look at the soon to be completed synagogue. It is going to be a beautiful synagogue that will only help to further build a vibrant and young Sephardic community.


Plaque outside of Sha’are Rahamim on Queenstown Rd

South Manchester has been home to Sephardic Jews and a Western Sephardic community  since the earlier twentieth century (It is independent from the North Manchester Sephardic community). The  community, Shaare Rahamim, was established in Didsbury in 1904, before moving to their impressive synagogue in Withington on Queenstown Rd in 1927. At that time the area also saw the establishment of an Eastern Sephardic community, Shaare Zedek. The two communities merged under the name Shaare Hayim at the end of the century, and alternate between and combine the various Sephardic traditions and melodies. They’ve been led since the 1970s by Rabbi Shlomo Ellituv.


Sha’are Rahamim on Queenstown Rd

Since the 1970s more people moved out of didsbury and into outlying suburbs of south Manchester such as Hale Barns.They adopted the name Shaare Zedek, and also maintain both Sephardic rites. Their growth finally prompted the community to embark on the construction of a new synagogue. It is a light filled space, with beautiful symbolism. According to their Rabbi, Amir Ellituv, the community maintains an open atmosphere which welcomes Jews of all types to come together. The environment is one of openness, Torah, and inclusivity, and that is very much reflected in the synagogue architecture. I found that the space itself makes one feel as if they are taking in a breath of fresh air.


New Sha’are Zedek in Hale Barns

The synagogue includes spaces for youth activities, expandable synagogue seating, a hall for celebrations, and a park for outdoor activities, as well as a kitchen. It was exciting to see their growth and the future of Sephardic South Manchester. They are in good hands with their warm, easy going, and upbeat Rabbi Amir Ellituv.


Rabbis Amir Ellituv and Shalom Morris


9 responses to “South Manchester – Sha’are Rahamim, Hayim and Zedek

  1. The name shaare Hayim only appeared with the merger of Shaare Rahamim and Shaare Zedek about 20 years ago. You completely ignore the role that Rabbi Dr Maurice Guagine played in the.lufe of the community for over 40 years. I was his last assistant for 3 years and then in 1983 I succeeded him and served Shaare Rahamim as its Rabbi until 1994.

    • Dear Rabbi Van Den Bergh,
      Thank you for your substantive comment. I will update the congregation names accordingly (it gets confusing!). I appreciate your supplementing the post with additional historical detail that was unknown to me. The congregation certainly has an illustrious rabbinic history! I regularly study and consult Keter Shem Tob, so it is thrilling to know I visited his son’s former kahal.
      Warmest regards,

  2. My grandfather and his brother ran Withington builders J&J Parish and I know they built at least one synagogue. Is it known who built Sha’are Rahamim on Queenston Road?

    • Hi, thank you for your comment. Good question, but I don’t know! Perhaps contact their synagogue office or the Jewish Museum of Manchester. Someone should have the records!

    • There is a splendid ledger of invoices from 1905 to 1920 and there are several Parrish invoices in it. Basil Jeuda

  3. Wow. I’m afraid all we have is an non-working Ferranti electric clock which was given my grandfather by the employees of J&J Parish. It’s says 1887-1937 – presumably for the golden jubilee of the founding of the firm. I’ve not yet arranged to see the ledger.

  4. I remember attending an anniversary celebration for the synagogue (I think it was probably in 1997). We were told that the official name of the congregation was the “Withington Congregation of Spanish and Portuguese Jews” even though it was not in Withington, had no Spanish members, and nobody from Portugal had ever been associated with it. We were also told that the building had always been too large and most of it belonged to the bank. These witty remarks have remained in my memory and indeed I have very fond memories of both communities from the 1990s.

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