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 period saw the transformation of Leeds Jewry from a migrant community to a community of Englishmen of the Jewish persuasion. The impact of the Aliens Act of 1905 on the community, the slowdown of immigration and the rising proportion of English-born children all changed the face of the community.
The outbreak of the First World War put the Jewishcommunity in the political firing line, with discussions about Jewish loyalty in the local press. The period 1914–18 was one
. Lipman’s comments on the character of the wider Jewishcommunity found their echo in Leeds:
The rise in real earnings increased demand for Jewish employment in the service and distributive trade and in consumer-orientated industries, so Jewish hairdressers, taxi drivers, newsagents, tobacconists and confectioners were able to start their own businesses as self-employed workers, in retail shopping and chain stores … Anglo-Jewishcommunities were ones in which the descendants of the Eastern European immigrants of 1881 onwards had been fully
possesses a vividness that resonates with modern readers. Few other contemporary sources have so successfully brought the Leylands to life and given the report’s brevity – it stretches over barely five pages of the journal – even fewer have been so richly detailed. For that reason, time and again, those who seek to tell the story of the Leeds Jewishcommunity have returned to the report of the Special Sanitary Commission for inspiration.
The Lancet ’s report stuck largely to its stated task of investigating links between conditions in the
This is a question that has been asked not just in Leeds but in Jewishcommunities worldwide. Is the Jewishcommunity growing, declining or staying numerically static and what are the future projections? Will there still be a Jewishcommunity in ten, twenty or fifty years’ time?
Counting Jews in the United Kingdom has always been difficult. The figures obtained are often regarded as ‘best estimates’.
Over time, researchers have used techniques such as the Frequency of Distinctive Jews Names, where the frequency of names such as Cohen and
There were three main developments which characterised the Leeds Jewishcommunity in the decades after the Second World War: social mobility; relocation to a new ‘unwalled ghetto’; and numerical decline. For much of the twentieth century, as previous chapters have illustrated, Leeds Jewry was predominantly a proletarian community. When the writer first came to Leeds as a student in the late 1950s, he lodged with a family in Chapeltown where the householder was a cutter at Burtons, among the elite of the skilled workers there. Thousands
growth. But for its Jewishcommunity it was also one of evolution. Bernard Silver noted that ‘thousands of … Jewish immigrants … all came with the purpose of commencing a new life – free from the perils, hardships and persecution of Eastern Europe’. He went on to say that it was also ‘a period of terror for Jews’. 1 Any Jew’s experiences there were largely dependent on what drove them to the city and how they were embraced. There were varying levels of integration and separation within the Leeds Jewishcommunity and the city at large. An exploration of personal and
the characteristic immigrant comfort of the extended family network. Dietary laws required specially prepared foods which spawned retail outlets for this growing but specialised market. Jewishcommunities have always been characterised by both informal and formal mutual aid activity, which could only be sustained in a concentrated urban environment. Above all, Jews looked to their synagogues to provide spiritual cohesion, whatever their degree of religious observance. With synagogues came Sabbath and festival celebrations and the vital lifeblood of religious
This chapter offers an alternative conceptual framework for looking at the diversity of individual experiences of Jewish identity in the Leeds Jewishcommunity, at present and in the past. Borrowing from the field of citizenship studies and identity politics, it argues that to understand local expressions of Jewish belonging, they need to be framed in the wider context of the national discourse on Britishness and citizenship. This means that changing notions of national identity inevitably trigger changes in how people express and
There is a view that while British Jews have made their mark in many areas of economic, social and cultural life in Britain – particularly in the professions of law and medicine, the sciences, politics and business – sport has seen only a limited contribution. This view is erroneous and more recent research has shown to what extent the Jewishcommunity has made significant contributions on both the playing and administrative sides of professional and amateur sport in Britain. Since the emergence of