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March 2003 saw the opening of Hale’s spectacular new Shule and Community Centre building in Shay Lane, after years of planning, fundraising and construction. Every aspect of the building has been creatively designed to be both functional and inspiring, with a combination of traditional and modern features.
The theme of the Shule is the importance of the city of Jerusalem to Jews around the world, with illuminated spaces creating an ambience of warmth and spirituality. The external walls of the foyer are constructed from different types of Venetian glass, to symbolise the city walls. Entering the synagogue itself, one is struck by the Mizrach (eastern) wall built of Jerusalem Stone, 7½ tonnes of which were imported from Israel, which provides a focus for our prayers reminiscent of the Kotel – the Western Wall of the former Temple.
The building is crowned with a glowing lantern of stained glass windows with Jewish themes, which creates a sense of light and spaciousness in the sanctuary. The ladies’ gallery is unusually low and the Shule’s bimah (reading platform) is raised, to ensure that women feel included in the services. Visitors are impressed by the Shule’s modern design, which is appropriate to a modern, outward-looking congregation with strong traditional values.
The P.J. Davis Community Centre
The P.J. Davis Community Centre was generously dedicated by Philip J. Davis and his late wife Renée z”l to celebrate his 80th birthday. It combines all the facilities required by the Nursery, classrooms / meetings rooms for the Cheder and youth activities, community offices, at its hub, the Bet Hamidrash – a dedicated room for weekday services, children’s services and Jewish adult education activities.
The Pearl Suite part of the building includes a hall for kiddushim, which seats up to 400 people for community social and educational events, and also an integrated permanent Succah. The South Manchester Mikvah is housed alongside the Shule.
The entire building is designed for easy accessibility. The Centre thus provides a flexible multi-purpose accommodation for all the community’s activities, for all age groups, and it stands as a glowing beacon at the heart of the Hale Jewish community.
The Pearl Suite Banqueting Facility
As part of the new Hale Synagogue and P.J. Davis Community Centre complex, the Pearl Suite was opened in April 2003 with state-of-the-art function facilities, which are available for private hire. Beautifully appointed with varnished wood walls and flooring, it is designed to provide an elegant and versatile environment for memorable business and social functions.
The Pearl Suite’s divisible function room and reception area offers flexible room layout options, including theatre-style seating for 400 people. There is a modern, purpose-built kosher kitchen and the roof can be opened for open-air chupah ceremonies and Succot parties. The facilities include full disabled access, air conditioning and car parking for 150 vehicles.
The Pearl Suite in Hale is conveniently located within easy reach of the M56, M60 and M6, near Manchester City Centre and Manchester International Airport. We have made arrangements for discounted accommodation for Pearl Suite guests at several hotels within easy walking distance.
The Opening Ceremony
The consecration and dedication of the newly rebuilt Hale Shule and P. J. Davis Community Centre in March 2003 was attended by over 550 people from within and beyond the community. The Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks was prevented from attending by a bout of flu but sent his greetings and asked Dayan Isaac Berger to stand in for him.
The full recording of the opening ceremony can be downloaded here.
Thanks were expressed to all of those who were instrumental in building this magnificent new home for the community, including the Chairman of the Building Committee Terry Krell, and the then Shule President Anthony Thwaites. The highlight of the dedication ceremony was the kindling of the Ner Tamid in front of the Aron Kodesh. This honour was given to the late Mr Gabe Cowan z”l who was then, at 95 years old, the oldest member of the Hale community.
Click here to download a pdf of the Gesher Supplement with pictures of the Opening.