Nigel Grizzard (1984 and 2007) Additional material and locations (c) Marcus Roberts (2007)


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The Twentieth Century

In 1881, the Jewish world changed as millions of Jews fled west from Russia, leaving behind the pogroms and Russian antiĀ¬-Semitism. The first Russian Jewish newcomers to Bradford joined the synagogue in Bowland Street, but soon found the Reform ritual not to their liking.

They quickly formed their own Orthodox Synagogues and a number of premises were used in the Manningham area. Synagogues existed in houses at 22 and 25 Houghton Place, on the top side of Manningham Lane, and in Snowden Street, on the lower side. In the first decade of the twentieth century, rivalries were put aside and the Orthodox community joined together to build a Synagogue in Spring Gardens on the lower side of Manningham Lane.

The First World War was an important turning point for the Jewish community of Bradford. The strong anti-German feelings of the war seriously damaged the German community of Bradford and many in the German community changed their names or gave up Bradford altogether. This would appear to explain why no descendants of the German Jewish merchants can be traced in Bradford today.

However, the Bradford Jewry continued to grow in the first decades of the century. There arose a new merchant class, including Oswald Stroud, the son of Rabbi Strauss, and the Jerome family. The Jeromes owned the Victoria Mills at Saltaire, which are now a housing complex. It would appear that Jews were increasingly mill owners as well as merchants.

Among this new class of Bradford Jewish entrepreneurs, was Berthold Reif (1862 1937). He was not German, but was born in Butschowitz, Czechoslovakia and came to Bradford in 1892. It was said of him that he possessed 'The Spice of Adventure'. While he started as a merchant, running an export house, he later became a mill owner, having benefited from buying up bankrupt mills during the Great Depression and made his fortune. He left the existing management in the mills to run the production while he went and marketed the products. When he died he left large legacies to Jewish and local charities, including the Jewish Benevolent Institute, the Leeds Herzl Moser hospital and Bradford Grammar School.

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