A BOURNEMOUTH synagogue is set to be sold with the congregation searching for new premises.

Bournemouth Hebrew Congregation held a special general meeting on January 29 to vote on the proposals to sell its current building, on Wootton Gardens, and to search for a new building.

Members voted 87 per cent in favour of the sale, which was substantially more than the two-thirds majority required.

The Wootton Gardens Synagogue was originally built around 110 years ago, before being extended in the 1960s and 70s, bringing the capacity up to accommodate 900 worshipers, and adding the Murray Muscat Centre.

The reasons behind the move centre on the need to find a smaller location, with the costs for the building rising.

Bournemouth Echo:

Stephen H White, a senior trustee on the congregation’s Board of Management, said that this has been in the background for a decade.

“Obviously heating costs, electricity and gas costs have become particularly an issue over the last year or so, for us and everybody else,” Mr White said.

“It’s a very big building, and therefore very expensive to heat and so on. That increased the impetus for us to look for an alternative place.”

Mr White indicated that the congregation is searching for a new building in East Cliff, where many of the 500 members of the community live.

“We’re looking for a building that would be more suitable for our community,” Mr White said.

Bournemouth Echo:

“We’re looking for somewhere that would accommodate us comfortably, and give us not only a prayer hall, a place of worship, but also the possibility of a community centre that the community can use for social events and so on.”

A purchaser for the synagogue on Wootton Gardens has been selected, and pre-exchange of contract legal work is proceeding. The congregation will be able to continue to use the building for up to two more years, under the terms negotiated with the purchaser.

Simon Lurie, chair of the board of management, said: “We look forward to moving to new premises to build on the success of the Golden Thread of Bournemouth Orthodox Jewry that this Bournemouth Hebrew Congregation has richly cultivated.

“We take our happy memories with us and welcome the new chapter for this dynamic community in its continuing existence in sunny, sunny Bournemouth.”