Leeds & West Yorkshire

Bradford synagogue congregation featured in exhibition

Man at the synagogue Image copyright Nudrat Afza
Image caption Low light conditions made capturing portraits challenging

The dwindling population of Bradford's last active synagogue has been photographed for a new exhibition.

Nudrat Afza's show is entitled "Kehillah", which can mean congregation or community in Hebrew.

Ms Afza works with small hand-held cameras and was given access to prayers and worship as she spent a year with members of the synagogue.

Her previous work has recorded the everyday lives of other West Yorkshire communities.

Rudi Leavor in a prayer shawl at the synagogue Image copyright Nudrat Afza
Image caption Rudi Leavor photographed at Bradford Synagogue in 2018

"There are fewer and fewer Jewish people left in Bradford. It's this declining population and disappearing culture that I wanted to document," said Ms Afza.

"Many Jewish people came to the city in the 19th Century, contributing a huge amount to the industrial success of the place; they came once again in the 20th Century fleeing persecution in Europe.

"The movement of people has an acute resonance currently at a national and international level with plight of economic migrants, asylum seekers and refugees due to war, famine and oppressive regimes."

Two women seated in the synagogue Image copyright Nudrat Afzah
Image caption Different faiths combine to make the pictures possible

Ms Afra, a Pakistani-born Muslim who has lived in the UK since the 1960s, said she tried to build relationships with the people she photographed to be seen as sensitive rather than intrusive.

The centre on Bowland Street claims to be the only synagogue with a Muslim member on its board of trustees.

In 2013 trustees of the synagogue had to act because the roof of the Grade II-listed building was leaking and there was serious damage to the eastern wall, where the ark held the Torah scrolls.

Officials considered there was no way the subscriptions paid annually by the 45 members could cover the cost.

The building was saved by a fundraising campaign by groups including the Bradford Council for Mosques.

Woman and young man Image copyright Nudrat Afza
Image caption The images are taken in a documentary style
Woman blowing out candles on menorah Image copyright Nudrat Afza
Image caption Suzie Cree extinguishes the menorah

Kehillah is at Salts Mill as part of the Saltaire festival from until Sunday 22 September.

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