This chapter adopts a biographical approach and identifies a number of leading figures who made a contribution to the community and the city. These include philanthropic figures, such as Victor Lightman; municipal ‘giants’, such as Hyman Morris; academics, such as Selig Brodetsky and retail entrepreneurs, such as Montague Burton. The only woman included, Fanny Waterman, is a musical pioneer who established the Leeds Piano Competition. It is admitted that the choice was subjective and others might have been included.
The chapter provides an overview of the book and its key themes. It identifies the importance of migration, urban history, economic success and social mobility. The authors have been encouraged to use a wide range of historical sources and make the book accessible to a wide readership
This chapter provides the definitive account of all the synagogues established in Leeds from the 1840s to the present day. Many of these were related to the places of origin of the congregants and their multiplicity exemplified the fragmentation of the Leeds community. The various burial grounds are identified and their origins and ownership clarified. A distinctive feature of Leeds was the fact that the mikveh (ritual bath for females) was provided by the local authority as part of the municipal swimming/bathing provision.
The chapter analyses the character and impact of the mass migration which transformed the Jewish community in the late Victorian period. It is shown that despite family stories which asserted that people arrived in Leeds by accident, there were clear geographic connections which made Leeds the intended destination for most immigrants. Leeds Jews came predominantly from the western part of the Russian Pale, from Lithuanian and the province of Kovno. The new arrivals soon made their presence felt in local affairs such as strikes. The 1917 anti-Semitic riots were a low point in attempts to integrate into Yorkshire society.
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.