BURY has long been home to one of the significant Jewish Communities in the UK.

Since the first of a growing diaspora of Jewish families arrived in Manchester in the later-half of the 18th century, Greater Manchester’s Jewish population has grown rapidly to become the largest outside London ­— highly concentrated on the the areas of Prestwich, Whitefield and their neighbours.

Following the emergence of the State of Israel in 1948 Bury’s Jewish community has cultivated strong ties with the nation that many believe occupies their historical homeland.

These ties often include not only religious, cultural and historical connections, but also frequently personal and family connections.

Speaking about the borough’s links with Israel, The Mayor of Bury, Councillor Jane Black, one of the most prominent members of the Bury’s Jewish community said: “Of the Jewish communities around Greater Manchester I would say that Bury is now the biggest.

“I think traditionally these are communities are very supportive of Israel, there are a lot of links and a lot of people have family over there.

“I have relations that grew up in Manchester and are now living in Israel so for a lot of people there is a very strong connection.”

She added: “We are all British citizens, and Jews live in countries around the world, but they do have a connection with Israel that is historical, religious and for some people is about family.”

There are many ways that the two communities several thousands of miles away reach out to one another with many children from Jewish schools and community groups in the borough enjoying trips to Israel, and many Israelis visiting the borough, including ex-Israeli Defence Force troops in exchange.

Numerous Jewish charities and community groups also foster and strengthen interactions by engaging in transnational activities.

Each year Bury celebrates Israeli Independence on May 8 and 9 with the raising of the Israeli flag outside the town hall on Knowsley Street as a sign of celebration and recognition of the borough’s Jewish Community.

However Cllr Black also said Israel was one of many countries Bury wishes to strengthen its relations and ties with.

She said: “Bury’s connection with Israel is a special connection, but it is not the only special connection as we have other large communities and we want reflect that in the relationships that we have.”

The Mayor added: “The connection is very important to Jewish residents and it is something that we are starting to look at as a town in the same way that we want to build links with all sorts of areas such as places in Europe, America and China.”

Further Cllr Black noted that many Jewish people’s relationship with Israel is also nuanced, complex and diverse; with some very intimately attached to the state and others having little to no connection at all.

She said: “It is the sort of thing that if you asked half a dozen Jewish people about it they would all come up with a different take on it.”