The book is a comprehensive and definitive history of the Leeds Jewish community, which was – and remains – the third largest in Britain. It is organised in three parts: Context (history, urban, demography); Chronology (covering the period from the mid-nineteenth century to the 1940s); and Contours (analysing themes and aspects of the history up to the present time). The book shows how a small community was affected by mass immigration, and through economic progress and social mobility achieved integration into the host society. It is a story of entrepreneurial success which transformed a proletarian community into a middle-class society. Its members contributed extensively to the economic, social, political and cultural life of Leeds, which provided a supportive environment for Jews to pursue their religion, generally free from persecution. The Leeds Jewish community lived predominantly in three locations which changed over time as they moved in a northerly direction to suburbia.
This chapter explores Leeds as one of the shock cities of the Industrial Revolution, which experienced massive population growth in the nineteenth century. The new industrial classes challenged the old merchant elite and sought political power. The 1832 election, the first time Leeds gained parliamentary representation, was an important statement about the new urban society. The building of the Town Hall was an expression of civic pride and Queen Victoria opened it.
This chapter provides the national context, tracing the history of Jewry from medieval England to modern Britain. It stresses the importance of immigration, of different sorts in different period and from different countries. The emergence of the office of Chief Rabbi and of the United Hebrew congregation is an important feature of contemporary British Jewry.
Leeds Jewish tailors and Leeds Jewish tailoring trade unions, 1876–1915
Anne J. Kershen
This chapter provides a detailed and comprehensive account of the workers and masters in the Leeds tailoring industry. Many of the new immigrants worked in sweatshops and in the outsourced workshops, which were in many ways an updated form of the domestic system in which all members of the family worked in the home. The workers soon found common cause and combined together to form the first and largest tailoring trade union. Their leader was the socialist Moses Sclare, who was a nationally important figure in the labour movement. Many of the Jewish masters exploited their fellow Jews but an exception was David Lubelski, who supported higher wages and shorter hours.
This chapter discusses the Jewish community during the difficult wartime years, when many families suffered the tensions of absent fathers in the armed services and children removed through evacuation. The latter was in the event relatively short-lived and children returned to their schools which were soon reopened. The remarkable story of the Kindertransport is reviewed and life stories given of successful relocation to Leeds. The reception given to those fleeing from Nazi persecution was not always wholly welcoming. The impact of rationing is discussed and the difficulties both housewives and servicemen had in keeping to their kosher dietary rules.
In contrast to much of the previous analysis, this chapter argues that modern Leeds has a united and more coherent character than in past times. It is argued again that the question of identity is a complex one, with Jews able to feel multiple identities. The analysis relies on a number of attitudinal surveys which explore particularly young peoples’ attitudes to current issues. For example, it asked whether people would support Israel or England when they were drawn together in a European football competition. It is argued that young Jews in Leeds are confident and comfortable to display their allegiance publicly, such as lighting Chanukah candles at the Lubavitch centre.
The chapter covers the first phase of social mobility when large numbers move from the Leylands to Chapeltown, exemplified in the opening of the splendid New Synagogue in 1932. There was insidious anti-Semitism in the barriers placed in the professions of medicine and law and it was a tribute to the determination and talent of many Jews that they were able to surmount them. The Battle of Holbeck Moor is cited as an important statement of Jewish resistance to the Fascism of Oswald Mosley. The chapter identifies the retail and other businesses which developed, including the crucially important factory of Montague Burton.
The chapter traces the development of Zionism among Leeds Jewry, taking inspiration from the work of Theodore Herzl. In many ways, Zionism acted as a unifying influence in what was often a fragmented community, particularly since support did not depend on the degree of religious orthodoxy. Zionism in Leeds received a great stimulus from the arrival of Selig Brodetsky, who became the main organiser and leader. The city also was inspired by the visits of Chaim Weizmann.
This chapter explores how multinational companies that are both kosher- and halal-certified understand and comply with rising requirements in relation to issues such as certification, staff policies, science and innovation. It also explores how non-meat products such as enzymes are produced and qualified as kosher and halal. The chapter discusses relevant points made in Kosher Food Production and Halal Food Production, which many companies use as handbooks for kosher and halal production. Enzymes that derive from microbial or biotech sources are acceptable as kosher, halal and vegetarian. Denmark is the leading country in the manufacturing of kosher/halal-certified enzymes globally. The chapter mainly builds on empirical data from Denmark, but also the UK, the US and Asia. Novozymes is the leading enzyme manufacturer globally. Biotechnology and genetically modified organisms (GMO) in particular are contested fields with regard to modern halal.
This conclusion presents some closing thoughts on concepts discussed in preceding chapters of this book. The book focuses on the consequences of globalising kosher and halal markets. It describes the similarities and differences between kosher and halal consumption, production and regulation in different national contexts. The UK markets for kosher and halal are vast and expanding because local religious consumers traditionally support the markets for both non-stunned (kosher and halal) and stunned (halal) religiously certified meat. Religious enzyme production, supervision and certification at Novozymes in Denmark, for example, fully relies on these increasingly standardised forms, with similar developments being evident at companies such as Biocatalysts in the UK. Kosher/halal qualification in biotech is quintessentially dependent on this kind of transnational governmentality. Kosher and halal consumption remain central to debates about what religion is or ought to be for Jews and Muslims living in countries such as the UK and Denmark.