Leeds Jewish Community

West Yorkshire




Page created: 24 July 2012
Page most recently amended: 30 April 2023

Leeds Hill Top Cemeteries


(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

  • New Briggate Synagogue (also known as the "Grinner"), was founded in 1876 and became the largest Synagogue between the wars

  • Old Central Synagogue, founded in 1887 as the Old and New Mariampolar Synagogue, and which merged with BHH in 1958.

  • The 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.

  • United Hebrew Congregation 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 Hayim 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 here.

This "virtual" cemetery contains details of 2,948 burials together with digital photographs of 2,813 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 here.

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 to be:

 Cemetery Section(s)  Synagogue(s)
  UHT_C   UHC, Vilna, New Central Vilna
  UHT_D, UHT_F, UHT_G   New Briggate, UHC
  UHT_E   Old Mariampolar
  UHT_NM   New Mariampolar

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.

For a single search covering all five Leeds Jewish Cemeteries, click Here

Please ensure that JavaScript is enabled in your browser before making a selection above.

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. Webmaster - David Shulman. It is made available here with permission of the UHC, BHH and Etz Chaim Synagogues in Leeds.

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