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Angie Kotler

Angie Kotler recalls her Bradford connection.

How did you come to Bradford and why Bradford?

We came to Bradford quite by chance really, we had just come back from Zimbabwe Chris and I with two young boys, and went to Leeds actually, because I was going to do a course, and Chris was looking for work and he got a teaching job in Bradford, and we needed somewhere to live and houses were cheaper in Bradford and we were only going to stay a couple of year, and sixteen years later we are still here.

Has the Jewish community changed a lot from when you were younger?

I don't really feel there is much of a Jewish community in Bradford, in my experience. In the 15 or 16 years I have been here I don't really feel part of a Jewish community. I have met very few Jewish people here and those are mainly older ones, and those only latterly through my work at the interfaith centre. And not being a practising Jew, I don't really go to synagogue, so I don't really feel I can say much about that.

Tell me about your family background.

My family background is I was brought up by quite strict, orthodox parents, who were born of immigrant parents themselves, in the East End of London. They then, after the War, moved to Brighton because of my father's work, and so I had a very Jewish upbringing in the house, and the home and the family, but we did move to the Reform synagogue after my older brother's bar mitzvah, because my dad got so fed up with all the chattering in the orthodox synagogue, he really liked the idea that in the Reform synagogue people sat quietly and paid attention, and that we could sit together as a family and so we moved across; much to the disgust of all his siblings. We were almost excommunicated from the North London Jewish side of the family. But then in my teens it wasn't making a sense to me, and my father died, and I just kind of walked away from it, and at this point I'm kind of interested in the heritage more than I ever was before, but I'm still not very motivated by the religious side of the whole thing. I feel much more connected to my roots, but not practising the religious things.

I met Chris when I ended up going to London to train as a teacher and I was teaching at a school in Stepney on the estate where my grandparents first lived when they were married, and I met Chris there and we decided to go off to Zimbabwe and we were there for eight years, and our sons were born there.

How do you find living in Bradford?

I think over the years I've grown to like it more and more, at first I felt like an outsider; I didn't feel very Jewish and didn't seek out the Jewish community and didn't relate to the other people I met who were either very Yorkshire, very rooted in Yorkshire or were half Yorkshire and half Pakistan or other places. So I sort of felt a bit like a visitor passing through, and it was very interesting but not my home; but I suppose the longer you stay, and the children have grown up here, and the more people we've got to know in these 15 or 16 years, you sort of feel actually very comfortable. When I go away and I come back I realise I really do think of it as home. I really like the variety it provides; I like the rural urban mix, and the diversity in the community,


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