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Leisure and sporting activities

This chapter explodes the myth that while Jews were active in culture and the arts, they were uninterested in sporting pursuits. A comprehensive review is provided of Jewish activity in a range of sports. For football there was important activity in the ownership of Leeds United and in rugby league in the sport’s administration. Leeds Jews achieved proficiency at county or even national level in golf, athletics, tennis and boxing. In amateur dramatics there was a distinguished history through the Proscenium Players (which launched many acting careers) and Limelight.

in Leeds and its Jewish Community
Integration and separation

This chapter explains how the concept of identity is a complex one and not a unitary condition. Where Jews were forcibly contained within designated areas of the Pale, they conceived themselves as a unitary entity. Though they were also concentrated in the Leylands, they now lived among their new host society and so the single identity fragmented as people had to decide how Jewish to be if they wished to pursue integration. The example of the Jewish Lads Brigade is cited as a means of preserving Jewish identity while inculcating British values. The Scouts had a similar role for those who wanted a more rapid integration.

in Leeds and its Jewish Community

The final chapter falls into two parts, a survey of developments in the second half of the twentieth century and some final thoughts analysing the key themes of the book as a whole. Social mobility, economic success and residential concentration are notable characteristics of the modern community. Divisions persisted and one of the aims of the Jewish Representative Council was to speak for the diverse range of opinion, from the liberal Sinai Synagogue to the ultra-orthodox Lubavitch supporters. Much is made of the achievement of integration without assimilation and the penetration of the professions is highlighted. The case of Arnold Ziff is cited as a prime example of a major contribution to the economic and social life of Leeds, including benefactions to a range of causes, while retaining a committed Jewish identity.

in Leeds and its Jewish Community
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The Jewish population of Leeds – how many Jews?

The chapter attempts the difficult task of estimating the changing Jewish population of Leeds, without reliable census data. Before the present century, the census did not record religious affiliation. Surrogate demographic data has to be used based on place of birth; for the 1881, 1891 and 1901 census, if the place of birth was stated as Russia it has been used to form the basis of population estimates. The name COHEN is used as an additional indicator, as well as birth and death rates. The Jewish Year Book estimates are listed.

in Leeds and its Jewish Community

This chapter examines the Jewish community in Edwardian Leeds, by which time it was not just an immigrant community. The Aliens Act limited further mass migration and so the community grew naturally. It is shown how local institutions developed, such as synagogues and friendly societies. The chapter takes issue with the widespread belief, which underlay the 1917 anti-Semitic riots, that Jews were not contributing to the war effort. Numbers are provided of those Jews who served and died in the First World War. The importance of war memorials is stressed.

in Leeds and its Jewish Community

In this chapter the importance of mutual aid and philanthropic endeavour are stressed as a means of community cohesion and as a counter to the fragmentation so characteristic of the Leeds community. As with many other activities, the fellowship bodies were often associated with place of origin, later replaced by national bodies, such as B’nai Brith. The 140-year history of the Board of Guardians, later the Welfare Board, is traced with stress on the desire of Leeds Jewry to look after its own poor. The changing role of charities is explained by reference to the increase in state welfare in the twentieth century

in Leeds and its Jewish Community

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.

in Leeds and its Jewish Community
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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

in Leeds and its Jewish Community

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.

in Leeds and its Jewish Community
Jewish identity in late Victorian Leeds

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.

in Leeds and its Jewish Community