Glass jar contains an amazing glimpse into 1870’s Manchester

Builders working on Manchester Jewish Museum’s major Cultural Capital Development project have recently uncovered a time capsule hidden in the historic synagogue’s walls.

The glass jar, complete with its wax seal intact, was hidden deep in a wall cavity next to the Museum’s Ark (the holy cupboard which houses the Torah Scrolls). Inside, they found money, synagogue papers and newspapers which date back to when the synagogue was first founded in 1873. Early synagogue minutes show records of the capsule being laid in the cornerstone of the original building.

To share the rich and remarkable story of Manchester Jewry to the world at large: a universal story of identity, belonging and assimilation

The timing of the discovery has added significance with it being between Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the year in Judaism.

Manchester Jewish Museum’s CEO Max Dunbar said: “This timely discovery comes at an apt and symbolic period when millions of Jewish people around the world prepare for the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, the Day of Atonement, a reflective and thoughtful time of year when many observers look backwards as a means to move forwards. We are thrilled and overwhelmed by its discovery and look forward to showing it off in our collection when we re-open next Spring.”

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Manchester Jewish Museum will reopen next spring after a £5M redevelopment

The item will become part of the museum’s permanent collection of over 31,000 objects - including a Russian washboard used as a cricket bat, an English/Hebrew teapot and the belongings of a Holocaust Survivor who spent the war hiding in a coal cellar.  

It is through the collection of these special and hugely eclectic objects, that Manchester Jewish Museum – the only Jewish museum outside of London - is able to share the rich and remarkable story of Manchester Jewry to the world at large: a universal story of identity, belonging and assimilation.

2020 09 25 Jewish Museum Time Capsule Coin
The glass jar contained money and papers which dated back to 1873 when the synagogue was founded

In 2017, Manchester Jewish Museum received a £2.89m National Lottery Heritage Fund Grant to support an ambitious £5m development project that will see the museum, housed inside a former synagogue, double in size. When Manchester Jewish Museum reopens its doors in Spring 2021, it will house a brand new gallery, learning studio, learning kitchen, café and shop – all built within an extension alongside the existing historic building. The Grade II* listed synagogue – located in the city’s culturally diverse Cheetham Hill district - is also being repaired and restored.  Regular live events, workshops and discussions will run across a packed and eclectic year- round programme.

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