(Note: These cemeteries are permanently closed due to dangerous mining
subsidence from former coal workings).
Leeds Hill Top Cemeteries contain the burial grounds for a number of Synagogues
past and present:
Beth Hamidrash Hagodal Synagogue (BHH) - the earliest graves date
from 1905, some 30 years after the synagogue's foundation
Briggate Synagogue (also known as the "Grinner"), was founded in
1876 and became the largest Synagogue between the wars
Central Synagogue, founded in 1887 as the Old and New Mariampolar
Synagogue, and which merged with BHH in 1958.
Vilna Synagogue, founded prior to 1885
The New Central Vilna Synagogue, formed in 1955 from the amalgamation of
the Vilna Synagogue with
The New Central Synagogue. While burials for the Vilna Synagogue
were initially at the Hill Top Cemeteries, following the formation of the New
Central Vilna Synagogue
burials were generally at the New Farnley Cemeteries except that, until 1963,
burials for former Vilna members continued at the Hill Top Cemeteries provided
that a spouse had already been laid to rest there.
formed in 1931 through the amalgamation of The Grinner with the
Great Synagogue, Belgrave Street, the oldest established synagogue, and
some others. Their cemeteries have been in use from 1875 until 1970 (with some
later burials, primarily in reserved plots) while Belgrave Street members
continue to use their original cemetery on Gelderd Road.
As the name implies, the Hill Top Cemeteries are situated on top of a hill, but
above a labyrinth of mining tunnels and shafts. In 2006, six graves and
headstones in the BHH cemetery collapsed thirty feet into what was believed to
be a mineshaft and forced Leeds Jewish Orthodox Cemeteries to close the grounds
for repairs. These were carried out by the Residual Coal Board Authority who had
accepted responsibility for the site and grounds. The cemeteries reopened in
June 2007 with assurances about their safety. However, a year later, following
further subsidence, all sections of the cemeteries on Hill Top were deemed
unsafe and are now closed permanently. Since then, every year during the month
of Ellul, a memorial service has been held in the Ohel of the current BHH
Cemetery in remembrance of those buried in the Hill Top cemeteries.
Those buried in these cemeteries include Rabbi Israel Chaim Daiches, Rabbi Mayer
Palterovitch (an ancestor of the actress Gwyneth Paltrow) and the Hebrew and
Yiddish scholar Aaron Rumyaneck. Further details on the history of these
cemeteries are given in a recent article by Malcolm Sender which was published
in the February 2012 Issue of the BHH Magazine BIMA and which can be viewed
This "virtual" cemetery has been assembled from digital photographs of
approximately 3000 headstones (taken mainly during 1996-2006) together with
additional information extracted from the few available extant records,
including some old partial plans drawn on linen. For the present purpose, the
cemeteries have been spilt into logical sections separated by walls and/or
paths. Within each section, the rows have been designated alphabetically and the
graves within each row have been numbered sequentially. Where possible, the
locations of gaps and unmarked graves have been identified. Within each section
the start of each row is identified by A1, B1, C1, etc, as shown in the
annotated image (Google Earth) which can be viewed
Note: All of the Synagogues which have used the different Sections of
Hill Top Cemeteries over the years cannot be identified with any degree of
certainty. However, the main Synagogues associated with each Section are known
UHC, Vilna, New Central
UHT_D, UHT_F, UHT_G
New Briggate, UHC
Details of all burials in the Hill Top Cemeteries are provided in this database,
together with images of all legible and partially legible headstones.
Information for any individual may be displayed by first selecting the
appropriate surname letter from the list below and then selecting the required
name from its drop-down list.
This database has been created through the efforts and support of Malcolm
Sender, Lee White, Alan Tobias, the late Murray Freedman, Nigel Grizzard,
Anthony Glynne, Kate Pearlman Shaw, Joanne Harris, Alan Benstock and Eddie Mack.
It is made available here with permission of the
Chaim Synagogues in Leeds.
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