Manchester Jewish Museum discovers time capsule

Object found during building redevelopment
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Simon Stephens
The glass jar time capsule found during the redevelopment of Manchester Jewish Museum
The glass jar time capsule found during the redevelopment of Manchester Jewish Museum

Work on the redevelopment of Manchester Jewish Museum has unearthed a time capsule hidden in the walls of a synagogue.

The glass jar, with its wax seal intact, was discovered by a builder in a wall cavity next to the Museum’s Ark (the holy cupboard that houses the Torah Scrolls). The money, synagogue papers and newspapers in the jar date from around the time the synagogue was founded in 1873. Early synagogue minutes show records of the capsule being laid in the cornerstone of the original building.

“This timely discovery comes at an apt and symbolic period when millions of Jewish people around the world prepare for the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, the Day of Atonement, a reflective and thoughtful time of year when many observers look backwards as a means to move forwards,” said Manchester Jewish Museum chief executive Max Dunbar. “We are thrilled and overwhelmed by its discovery and look forward to showing it off in our collection when we reopen in spring next year.”

The time capsule will become part of the museum’s permanent 31,000-strong collection, joining items such as a Russian washboard used as a cricket bat, an English/Hebrew teapot and the belongings of a Holocaust Survivor who spent the war hiding in a coal cellar. 

Manchester Jewish Museum will reopen next year with a new gallery, learning studio, learning kitchen, cafe and shop, all built in an extension alongside the existing historic building. The Grade II* listed synagogue, which is in the city’s culturally diverse Cheetham Hill district, is also being repaired and restored. 

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