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


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Post war, the Bradford community followed the pattern of other provincial communities. For some decades it benefited from population increase from the war-time influx of refugees. In 1970 the Bradford Community was confident enough to build a new Orthodox Synagogue in Springhurst Gardens in Shipley. The old Synagogue in Spring Gardens, off Manningham Lane was closed and became a car radio and telephone centre, but still retained its distinctive exterior.

In 1984, Councillor Olive Messer, who represented Shipley West Ward, became the third Jewish Lord Mayor of Bradford, following on a tradition started by Joseph Semon, who was Mayor, and former Lord Mayors, Jacob Moser and Alderman Black.

In 1990, the Reform community started Cheder (Hebrew classes) at Bowland Street, as once again there were Jewish children in the community. Bradford Jewry numbered perhaps 400 people at most, but within the city there were many, many people with one Jewish parent, or grandparent.

However, as elsewhere, from the 1980's, many Jewish families and young Jewish people had left Bradford for Leeds and London, and both the Orthodox and Reform communities were depleted, though such movements are also the tradition of the Bradfordian. Today there are two active synagogues and at the last census, 356 people in Bradford said they were Jewish.

To day the community is largely an older community and there are a growing number of people in Bradford with Jewish origins, but little or no connection with the Jewish community. There are two active synagogues and social groups and at the last census 356 people in Bradford said they were Jewish.

There are still Jewish newcomers to Bradford. Jewish students study at Bradford University, attracted by the Management Centre, as well as its courses in Science and Technology. Also, Jews commute from Leeds each day to work in Bradford as well.

Jews with Bradford connections still play a role in Jewish religious life. Rabbi Walter Rothschild, was one-time minister of the Sinai Synagogue in Leeds and one of the most charismatic Jewish figures in Yorkshire. He is a product of the Bradford community and at the time of writing is now rabbi to the Or Chadasch, the progressive Jewish community in Vienna. His sister, Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild was Rabbi of the Bromley Reform Synagogue and is now joint rabbi at Wimbledon Reform Synagogue.

While the high-days of the Jewish community of Bradford may be passed, there is a continuing Jewish presence in Bradford and there are as yet, future chapters of Bradford Jewish history, unwritten.

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