On the morning of 18 April, 1933, an angry and worried congregation of several hundred gathered in a building on Glasgow’s Southside.

Concern was mounting over events in Germany. By the end of the meeting at Langside Synagogue, the gathering had unanimously passed a resolution to vigorously protest against the persecution of Jews in Germany.

They loudly denounced the treatment of Jews whose families had been resident in Germany for centuries. And in the strongest terms possible, they laid down their opposition to the German government’s treatment of Jews whose roles in the country’s civil service, legal and other professions had been taken from them.

Within the walls of the Niddrie Road synagogue, opened just five years earlier and lovingly fashioned in a distinctive Eastern European folk-art style with decorative woodcarvings and wall-paintings that evoked the synagogues of their past lives in places like Poland, Ukraine and Romania, they called for the immediate restoration of German Jews’ civil and legal liberty.

It was a bold stand against rising fascism which would go straight to the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs and the Secretary General of the League of Nations.

The following day, representatives of all of Scotland’s Jewish youth organisations gathered under the same roof to make their feelings known.

“It’s a special building,” says Morgan Lev Edward Holleb, a member of Irn-Ju, a Scottish Jewish collective with a strong LGBTQ+ contingent and which includes other diverse strands of Judaism.

“Seeing this beautiful old building just being left empty is a tragedy in itself.

“It’s one of the only examples of its kind and it’s part of Govanhill’s rich past history,” he adds. “This was a Jewish neighbourhood before people moved to places like Newton Mearns.

“And it was strongly anti-fascist.”

From the outside, Langside Synagogue is a simple stone building with tall arched windows which, when not boarded up and the light is allowed to shine through the stained glass, are adorned with multiple Stars of David.

The arched doorway is topped by a line of golden Hebrew script, carved in the stone above the centre window, high above street level, is another six-pointed star.

One of the few purpose-built synagogues in Scotland, it’s what is inside, however, that makes the Niddrie Road building of particular note.

Even though the Ark and bimah are gone, the interior has been described as a “rare hidden gem” reflecting Eastern European folk-art style and one of only two examples of its like in the UK.

The dwindling Langside Hebrew congregation, many of whom had arrived in Scotland having fled persecution from the Russian empire, meant the doors to the synagogue closed in 2017 but most of the original fixtures and fittings remain as they were when it opened in 1927.

There are Star of David motifs on the timber galleries, and carved timber pews chiselled by a Lithuanian-born cabinetmaker, Harris Berkovitch, a member of the Langside Hebrew congregation and perhaps inspired by the synagogues of home.

The ceiling is timber-panelled, and there is further folk-art style woodcarving and wall-painting. Even its location is significant: set near the intersection of Queen’s Drive and Niddrie Road, in the 19th and early 20th century the area was a focal point for religious life with churches of various denominations within yards of each other forming a spiritual quarter that harks back to the lifestyles of people in days past.

More than that, for many of the 850 plus people who bombarded Historic Environment Scotland appealing for the synagogue to be given listed building status it represents a rapidly disappearing slice of Scottish Jewish heritage, symbolic of the vibrant community which once thrived in the area and which in 1933 stood up to fascism.

Now, having lain empty for years, time appears to be rapidly running out for the former synagogue and the 21st century Jewish group desperate to save it as a venue to both celebrate their faith and also as a focal point for the whole local community.

Later this month it will come up for auction, with a guide price of £650,000.

Selling agents, Online Property Auctions Scotland, have said it as “an incredible opportunity with huge development potential” and suggested the circa 6000 sq ft building would be suitable for a mixture of residential and commercial conversions, subject to planning consent, of course.

It’s been hinted that the possibilities could range from up to 17 executive flats, a business centre or serviced offices, a restaurant, children’s play centre, fitness club, nightclub or an entertainment venue.

According to George Douglas, CEO of Online Property Auctions Scotland, the sale is a “once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire a C Listed Landmark building with exceptional scope for re-development”.

Interest is said to be “substantial”. But whoever takes it on may have to factor in what could be a very loud and determined campaign to save the synagogue.

For the members of Irn-Ju, the synagogue would provide space to worship – before the pandemic, their religious services including Shabbos on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings, Havdalah on Saturday evenings and Jewish holidays such as Hanukkah and Yom Kippur, were held in their homes.

With no focal point for Irn-Ju, outreach work was hindered, stifling attempts to grow their numbers beyond the current 100 or so that are involved.

However, Morgan, co-director of pink peacock, a queer Yiddish anarchist café on the Southside, says the building would also serve the whole Govanhill community.

“I hope it can be reclaimed as a public space, not only for Jewish worship and Jewish community, but the local community in general,” he says. “It’s a huge building, it could be a community gathering space for meetings, a place for local theatre, we could have interfaith meals, a foodbank, the possibilities are endless.

“We want it to benefit the whole community, not just the Jewish community.”

Glasgow’s Jewish community as established in the 1820s, with most worshipping their faith in rented rooms until a synagogue was established in the Old Post Office Court, Trongate.

The community grew in the 19th century, reaching 800 by the time the first purpose-built synagogue in Scotland was opened in Garnethill in 1879. Later Jews escaping persecution in Russia and from Eastern Europe established a community in the Gorbals, before settling in areas such as Govanhill, Battlefield and Shawlands.

With a rising Jewish population, the Langside Hebrew Congregation launched a fundraising effort to build their own synagogue. Eventually, however, a shift to the suburbs meant many synagogues closed, and Langside Synagogue became one of the few remaining examples of Jewish architectural heritage in the city.

The campaign which prompted Historic Environment Scotland to grant the synagogue its C listing attracted support from national and international Jewish communities, local Muslim groups, the Govanhill community.

Strong feelings about the group and, in particular, its political views, he adds, has meant support from some Jewish communities has been mixed.

“There are some in the wider Glasgow Jewish community who think we are wasting our time, they have watched what happened to the shul, they saw members dwindle and think we are reopening old wounds.

“I think that’s quite sad. I think they are quite pessimistic, and that has been painful to watch.”

There are also different opinions about what Irn-Ju embrace and their political views, he adds. “But,” he insists, “that’s minority even people who disagree with our politics have supported us.”

Now as the auction nears, hopes are pinned on the owners appreciating its unique place in Scottish Jewish heritage.

“We don’t think the onus should be on the local community to save this building. It should be on the owners to prevent it being destroyed and to do something good for the community rather than a real estate project that will further gentrify the area,” says Morgan.

Announcing the building was to be listed last Autumn, Elizabeth McCrone, head of designations at HES, described it as “one of only a few purpose-built synagogues in Scotland and it tells us much about the development of the Jewish community in Glasgow in the early 20th century.

“It's an important part of Scotland's heritage and listing will help to ensure that its special character will be taken into account if changes to the building are proposed.”

Meanwhile, those anxious to save it, are preparing for a fight.

“If the sale goes through and someone gets planning permission to develop it, we are very good at protesting,” continues Morgan.

“Any developer who seeks to desecrate the synagogue will get a lot of trouble from us. We are very good at drumming up support.

“It’s come to that.”