views updated Jun 27 2018


LEEDS , cloth-manufacturing city in Yorkshire, N. England. Jews first appear here in the late 18th century. However, a community was founded only c. 1823 and a cemetery acquired only in 1837. Until 1846 a small room served as synagogue, larger accommodation being acquired in that year. The first synagogue building for the parent congregation was erected in 1860, when there were a hundred Jewish families. With the growth in local prosperity the Jewish population increased, and in 1877 the present Beth Hamidrash Hagadol, now a congregation with 620 seatholders, was organized in a small room by recently arrived immigrants. Toward the close of the 19th century many Russian and Polish immigrants settled in Leeds and were absorbed largely in the tailoring industry to which they gave a great impetus. Sir Montague *Burton was one of many Jews who contributed largely to its development. Zionism flourished in Leeds, especially due to the presence of Professor Selig *Brodetsky. In 1970 the Jewish community was estimated at 18,000 out of a population of approximately 508,000. This was the third largest community, after London and Manchester, and contained the highest proportion of Jews to the general population in Great Britain. Three of the nine synagogues in Leeds were combined in the United Hebrew Congregation with a total membership of nearly 2,000. There was also one Reform congregation. The Leeds Jewish Representative Council, organized in 1938, embraced almost every local synagogue, Zionist group, charitable organization, and Friendly Society. There was a Hebrew department at Leeds University and the teachers there have included Shimon *Rawidowicz. Hyman Morris was lord mayor in 1941–42 and J.S. Walsh in 1966–67. By the mid-1990s the Jewish population had dropped to approximately 9,000. In the 2001 British census, which recorded the religion of respondents, Leeds was found to have 8,270 declared Jews, making it still the third largest Anglo-Jewish community after Greater London and Manchester. Leeds continued to have a wide variety of Jewish institutions, among them six Orthodox, one Reform, and one Masorti synagogue.


E. Krausz, Leeds Jewry, its History and Social Structure (1964); Lehman, Nova Bibl, index; C. Roth, Rise of Provincial Jewry (1950), 81f.; V.D. Lipman, Social History of the Jews in England 18501950 (1957), index; L.P. Gartner, The Jewish Immigrant in England 18701914 (1960), index; Krausz, in: jjso, 3 (1961), 88–106. add. bibliography: A. Bergen, Leeds Jewry 18301939: The Challenge of Anti-Semitism (2000); J. Buckman, Immigrants and the Class Struggle: The Jewish Immigrant in Leeds, 18801914 (1983); D. Charing (ed.), Glimpses of Leeds Jewry (1988); M. Freedman, Leeds Jewry: The First Hundred Years (1992); L. Snaipe, A History of the Jews of Leeds (1985); L. Teeman, Footprints in the Sands: An Autobiography (1986).

[Cecil Roth]


views updated Jun 11 2018

Leeds. The earliest mention of Leeds is in Bede's Ecclesiastical History as the region of Loidis in the 7th cent. The derivation of the name is unclear. It is mentioned in Domesday but not as a place of particular importance. But by 1207 it had been granted a charter by the lord of the manor and it developed with the cloth trade from the 14th cent. onwards, less as a manufacturing centre than as a market for the surrounding villages. A bridge across the Aire is first mentioned in 1384 but may have existed much earlier. Charles I gave Leeds a charter in 1626 and its assessment for ship money in the 1630s suggests a town of importance—£200 as against £520 for York and £140 for Hull. Cromwell gave the town parliamentary representation but Leeds lost it again at the Restoration and until 1832 had to be content with the influence it exerted in the elections for the county. In 1698 Celia Fiennes found Leeds ‘esteemed an excellent town of its bigness in the count(r)y, its manufactures in the woollen cloth, the Yorkshire cloth in which they are all employed, and are esteemed very rich and very proud’. Before Defoe visited the town in the 1720s, improvements to the rivers Aire and Calder had encouraged export through Hull of cloth and coal: ‘large, wealthy and populous’ was his comment; ‘the cloth market not to be equalled in the world.’ Communications were further improved by the opening of the Leeds and Liverpool canal, in stages, between 1770 and 1816. The first railway, in a complex network, was the Leeds to Selby line in 1834, followed by lines to Derby (1840), Manchester (1841), and Thirsk (1849). By 1801 Leeds was the fifth largest provincial town with a population of 53,000 and its prodigious expansion in the 19th cent. took it into fourth place by 1861, having overtaken Bristol. The Kirkgate covered market, opened in 1857, housed Marks's Penny Bazaar in the 1880s—the forerunner of Marks & Spencer's. In the 20th cent., as the cloth trade moved to Bradford, Leeds diversified, with engineering, chemicals, banking, and services becoming important. The construction of the M1 and M62 motorways in the 1970s, when canals and railways had faded, preserved its importance as a great commercial centre, the crossroads of the north–south and east–west highways.

J. A. Cannon


views updated Jun 08 2018

Leeds City and county district on the River Aire, West Yorkshire, n England. Founded in Roman times, it forms part of one of England's major industrial regions. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Leeds was famous for its cloth manufacture and it remains the centre of England's wholesale clothing trade. Leeds has two universities (1904, 1992) and is host to an international piano competition. Industries: aircraft components, textile machinery, engineering, chemicals, plastics, furniture, paper and printing. Pop. (1997) 726,800.