The third of a four-part series exploring the history of the Jewish community in Leeds. See our dedicated page for all entries in this series, plus other articles on related subjects. This part focuses on culture and sport in the community…
Perhaps the foremost cultural figure to emerge from the Leeds Jewish community was Jacob Kramer, the Ukranian-born painter who came to Leeds in 1900, and was subsequently educated at the Leeds School of Art. Traces of Kramer and his work can be found throughout the collections at the Central Library – including an illustration for a 1954 edition of The Chassid, the bulletin of the Chassidishe Synagogue. Most importantly, the Library holds a small selection of Kramer’s personal material, which includes family memorabilia and books owned by the artist.
Jewish people in Leeds were also prominent in the written arts. One name that deserves wider acclaim is that of Dr. Isaac Hipshon, a medical doctor and fiction author. Hipshon’s best-known work was his 1946 novel By Their Deeds, published under his pseudonym ‘Alan Peters’.
Hipshon was also a playwright and theatre was important to the wider Jewish society in Leeds. A community venue – Alexander Hall – was active on Cookridge Street from the late 19th-century, according to an article in The Soul of the Leeds Ghetto, a 1925 volume of news-cuttings. Later theatrical efforts included the Yiddish Repertoire Week (from 1911), and the work of the Proscenium Players – whose story is told in John Fisher’s An Audience of Curious People (2010).
The Soul of the Leeds Ghetto also includes a visceral look at boxing in the 19th-century Jewish community. Sport continued to play an important role through the 20th-century – particularly football and golf; interest in the latter being marked by the 1923 opening of the Moor Allerton Golf Club, the first Jewish golf club in Europe. Ted Hyman’s 2001 A History of Moor Allerton Golf Club tells the story of this pioneering sporting venue, while Anthony Clavane’s Does Your Rabbi Know You’re Here? explores, in part, the relationship between football and the Leeds Jewish community.