A hidden Jewish time capsule dating back nearly 150 years has been discovered during construction work in the former synagogue that houses the Manchester Jewish Museum.
Workers found the time capsule — a large, sealed glass jar tightly stuffed with documents, newspapers, and even some coins — hidden in the wall near the ark of the Grade II listed building, the former Spanish and Portuguese synagogue, which closed for worship in 1983.
“[They reached into the wall and found a perfectly intact time capsule from 1873!” the Museum said in a Tweet. “It’s a miracle that it’s survived this long, and we can’t wait to find out more!”
The city’s official Visit Manchester web site reported:
The glass jar, complete with its wax seal intact, was discovered by a builder hidden deep in a wall cavity next to the Museum’s Ark […]. Filled with money, synagogue papers and newspapers, these original artefacts are dated from around the time 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.
The museum, the only Jewish Museum in the UK outside of London, opened in the synagogue in 1984. It closed last year for extensive expansion and redevelopment that will double its size and add new galleries and a revamped core exhibit. It received a £2.89 million National Lottery grant towards the ambitious £5m development project and is expected to reopen in Spring 2021.
The Museum said that the capsule will become part of its new exhibit.
It called the find “A very timely discovery as this weekend is Yom Kippur, a day when Jewish communities look backwards as a means to look towards.”
The Guardian quoted building site manager Adam Brown as describing the find:
We were taking extra care to remove the plaque but never imagined we would find something as old as the building still intact.
It created a lot of excitement around the site. It was obvious a lot of time and effort had been spent placing the capsule all those years ago. To find it in perfect condition felt really rewarding.