Murray Freedman


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The burgeoning of the community after 1881 was fortunate in timing from the point of view of education. The Education Act of 1870 had authorised the establishment of local School Boards which were required to provide, for the first time, universal compulsory free education, and the four Board schools that were built in the Leylands area became almost wholly Jewish. Attendances at the schools, encouraged by parents appreciative of the value of education, eager-to-learn children, and a most enlightened approach by the non-Jewish teaching staff, were the highest in the country, and they had remarkable success in gaining the scholarships to high school on offer by the city in numbers far out of proportion to the total population. It is crucial to appreciate and understand this strong desire for education, and the seizing, where possible, of all the educational opportunities open to the Jewish children, for it largely explains the relatively easy integration and rapid socio-economic rise of the community that eventually took place.

In spite of many difficulties the community, as a whole, prospered, and this was reflected in the gradual change, over the years, in the types of occupations, and the gradual, but relentless, movement of the population to better housing in more salubrious districts. Today all the functioning synagogues and most of the communal organisations can be found within roughly a square mile in the northern suburbs of Moortown and Alwoodley, and it is remarkable how the community has remained so geographically cohesive since its movement away from the initial area of settlement in the Leylands.

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