Murray Freedman


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From its earliest days members of the community have been involved in the wider general life of the city. There have been three Jewish Lord Mayors and a Jewish High Sheriff of Yorkshire, and the number of city councillors, since the first one was elected in 1904, has usually been larger, pro rata, than the community size would suggest. Even in the early years there was Jewish involvement in bodies like the Trades' Union Movement, the Friendly Society Movement, the Leeds Workpeople's' Hospital Fund and the British Legion.
Today Jews are even more widely involved in the general life of the city of Leeds, with many judges, magistrates, leaders and members of professional organisations, chambers of commerce, voluntary and charitable groups, music and cultural societies, sporting bodies and the like. Because they are not always distinguishable by appearance, and because nowadays they often do not have foreign sounding names, their contribution, as Jews, in the foregoing ways, is seldom fully realised.

Practically all the immigrants were strictly Orthodox Jews, but religious practice has largely diminished amongst their English born children and grandchildren. The vast majority of the community are, however, still members of synagogues with approaching 90% at least nominally Orthodox. In recent times there has been a small but significant religious revival, with a number of young families becoming as fully observant as their pious immigrant forebears. The coming years should, therefore, continue to see a vibrant Jewish community that will continue to play its full part in the general welfare of the city of Leeds, whilst still contributing to its rich tapestry of life by maintaining and fostering its own proud heritage and distinctiveness.

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