Worry as new high rise set to tower over UK’s oldest synagogue

320-year old Bevis Marks synagogue could be engulfed in total darkness if 48-story office tower is built.

Dan Verbin, Canada ,

Construction workers (file)
Construction workers (file)
Flash 90

The UK Jewish community is worried after news of the approval of a huge office block high rise that will send a dark shadow over the country’s oldest synagogue that is mostly lit by natural light.

Bevis Marks synagogue, listed by the City of London as a historic building, has been holding services for 320 years.

It’s rabbi, Shalom Morris, worries that the building’s future could be in jeopardy if a proposed office tower project goes ahead, the UK Jewish News reported.

One of the 48-story high rises has been given the green light by the city’s planning office. The building will reportedly tower over the synagogue, leaving it in total darkness.

In early September, Rabbi Morris said that the synagogue’s future “was at stake” if the high rise, and a second similar structure nearby, were given the go-ahead.

“Not only will light be blocked, on which the building depends for ambiance, spirituality, and atmosphere, but the very foundations will be at risk,” said Rabbi Morris, according to the Jewish News. “Yet the Jewish community’s British heritage is treated by the planners and developers as just another building.”

Bevis Marks gets its light from 240 candles alongside some minimal electric lighting installed in 1928. The electric lighting cannot be increased because the synagogue is listed as a historic building.

The application for the office towers received 1,700 public objects, with just 37 comments in support.

The Board of Deputies and British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Marvis have also voiced deep concerns about the towering building’s negative impact on the centuries-old synagogue.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Simchat Torah and Shmini Atzeret in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)



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