HOME to one of the largest Jewish populations in the UK, Bury’s Jewish community’s faith and culture has left a long-lasting and visible presence throughout the borough.

The first purpose-built synagogues appeared in and around Prestwich in the 1930s, but although separated by a distance of almost 4,000 km Jerusalem plays a hugely significant role in the religious lives of many.

Rabbi Jonathan Guttentag, the leader of the Whitefield Hebrew Congregation said: “The religious connection felt by the Jewish community in Bury is extremely profound.

“Our synagogues are focussed geographically towards Jerusalem and Israel, and our prayers centre on Jerusalem in their content, emotion and aspiration.”

Many religious customs practised by Jews in Bury, Rabbi Guttentag further explained, including prayers for those who have lost close relatives and those for the Seder Passover ritual, invoke Jerusalem at their heart.

Wedding ceremonies also illustratively conclude with the breaking of a glass to symbolise the mourning for the loss of the temple in Jerusalem.

“These are just some illustrations of that very close religious connection between the Jerusalem and Israel, and the synagogue, Jewish life at home and in the consciousness of the Jewish community,” Rabbi Guttentag said.

However, as previously touched on in this series, Bury and its Jewish population’s profound connection to the State of Israel extends far beyond religion into the secular, cultural, historical and emotional spheres.

Rabbi Guttentag said: “The level of significance within the congregation and Jewish community is very, very strong.

“People feel very connected to Israel, many have close members of family there and feel personally committed, having a track record of spending time and holidays there; and in some cases actually going to live there.

He added: “People that live in Israel from Whitefield also maintain very close connections and relationships with Whitefield.”

However Rabbi Guttentag recognised that this extensive and deeply-felt connection does not extend to all corners of Bury - though many people may have more of a link than they at first recognise.

He said: “As far as the wider community is concerned, perhaps there isn’t that strength of connection.

“But perhaps there is an unwitting connection because a lot of trappings of modern life are produced and designed in Israel, – such as technology inside cars and mobile phones, and often medical advances originate in Israel.

“So perhaps people are not aware of it but the significance that comes from Israel in terms of society is a strong one.”