When does a group of Jewish people who find themselves in a city like Leeds become a community? This book tells the story of the growth of the Jewish community in Leeds through anecdotes recalled by the present day Leeds Jewish community. Some are sad, some amusing and some thought provoking and are illustrated by a range of photographs and memorabilia.
Our story begins in the mid nineteenth century with the very early settlers, usually single men, who were skilled craftsmen, shopkeepers, pedlars and wool merchants. These men put down roots and were followed, in the latter part of the nineteenth century and the early years of the twentieth century by Jews fleeing the anti-Semitic pogroms in Eastern Europe who were mainly poor and unskilled.
This surge of immigration coincided with the growth of the tailoring industry that was to bring such wealth to the city. The community grew and prospered, contributing to all aspects of city and communal life. Through the ten chapters you will read about daily life, religious traditions, work, the Jewish role in the founding of large companies such as Marks and Spencer and Burtons, the growth of the middle class, education both secular and religious, contribution to the military and politics, the arts including the founding of the Leeds International Piano Festival, sport and welfare.
Diane Saunders and Philippa Lester have chronicled the arrival, growth, highs and lows of the Jewish community in Leeds with meticulous attention to detail and immense pride in their mission. It’s historically fascinating as well as warm and human in its portrayal of a group of people who have, over generations, added richly to the warp and weft of a great city.
"From the Leylands to Leeds 17" is a journey of just 5 miles that takes place through a historical prism of over 150 years. With 402 pages and ten chapters the book covers huge areas of Jewish life in Leeds, with photographs, anecdotes, memories, invitations, poems and songs. Diane and Philippa have captured in words and pictures the essence of a fast changing community not just moving physically to suburbia but moving in class terms from working class to middle class. The book documents the context of this change as social history.
We’d really been looking forward to seeing the completed "From the Leylands to Leeds 17" and were not disappointed. The book’s a real tour de force, a tribute to the Jewish community of Leeds as well as to Diane’s and Philippa’s dedication. We were so moved when we saw a form on page 21, pertaining to our late father, Jack Wilton (then Jakob Weihshaar), who came to Leeds as a refugee from the Nazis. We had no idea that such a document existed, and we’re sure that others who see the book will be equally moved when seeing such evidence of chance in the seeking of refuge.
The book tells the stories my mother used to tell me.
It is a magnificent achievement to portray the sufferings and the triumphs of those who laboured intensely to build a community in alien territory.
It is fantastic and what a legacy for future generations. Not being from Leeds it certainly has opened my eyes! I love the layout too.
Through ten chapters of moving, entertaining and thought provoking anecdotes, illustrated photographs, documents and memorabilia contributed by members of the community, “From the Leylands to Leeds 17” tells the story of the Jewish community in Leeds in their own words.