Leicester Jewish Community

Leicester, Leicestershire




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City of Leicester

The historic city of Leicester, in the English East Midlands, lies on the river Soar. The city has a population of about 280,000, although there are over 330,000 people living in the greater Leicester urban area.  It was a county borough until 1974, when it became a district of the administrative county of  Leicestershire. In 1996, the city of Leicester became a unitary authority.

The Leicester Jewish Community

There had been a medieval Jewish community in Leicester, which was expelled about 1280 by Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester. His followers massacred Jews from Winchester to Lincoln. The city contains the remains of a Roman wall dating from the 2nd century CE, known as Jewry Wall, but it is uncertain whether this has any connection with the medieval Jewish community.

The first resident in modern times that could be identified as a Jew was in 1849. The first organised modern Jewish community dates from about 20 years later.

Jewish Congregations

The following are the Jewish congregations that exist or existed in Leicester:

* An active congregation


The Gilroes Jewish Cemetery Database


This database, affiliated to JCR-UK, contain records of the approximate 820 burials at the Gilroes Jewish Cemetery, Leicester, since 1902.


The All-UK Database


The records in this database associated with Leicester include:

  • Burials

    • World War II Civilian Casualties (11 records)

  • UK Jewish Communal Leaders Database

    • 91 Leicester records (as of 30 September 2021).

  • 1851 Anglo Jewry Database (updated 2016)

    • Individuals in the 1851 Anglo Jewry Database who were living in Leicester during the 1800s (1 record), 1840s (2 records), 1850s (4 records), 1860s 8 records), 1870s (13 records), 1880s (11 records), 1890s (3 records), 1900s (5 records) and 1910s (1 record).


On-line Articles and Other Material
relating to the Leicester Jewish Community


Jewish Voices Memories of Leicester in the 40s and 50s
Compiled by Rosalind Adam,


Notable Jewish Connections with Leicester

  • Anne Fine, OBE FRSL, who was born in Leicester (in 1947), is author of over 70 children's books and twice winner of a Carnegie medal.

  • Lord Barnett Janner (1892-1982) and his son Lord Greville Janner (1928-2015) were both Labour MPs for Leicester constituencies prior to their elevation to the House of Lords in 1970 and 1997, respectively. Both were also president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and prominent members of the wider Jewish community.

  • Oliver Kamm, who grew up in Leicester, is a journalist and leader writer and columnist for The Times. He is the son of Antony Kamm, publisher, who was for a time editorial director of the Leicester-based publisher, Brockhampton Press.

  • Brothers Sir Maurice Levy (1859-1933) and Sir Arthur Lever (originally Levy) (1860-1924), were born in Leicester. They were both Liberal MPs. Their father, Joseph, was co proprietor of the firm Hart and Levy.

  • Professor Aubrey Newman, Anglo Jewish historian, is emeritus Professor at Leicester University.

  • Andrew Nyman, who was born in Leicester (in 1966), is an English actor, director and writer.

  • Jewish Mayors and Lord Mayors of Leicester:

    • Sir Israel Hart (1835-1911), who was born in Canterbury and served as a president of the Leicester Hebrew Congregation, was four times Mayor of Leicester in 1884/6 and 1893/4. He was co-proprietor of the wholesale clothing firm Hart and Levy.

    • Alderman Cecil Herbert Harris (d.1969), who was born in south Wales, was Lord Mayor of Leicester in 1954/5 and president of Leicester Zionist society.

    • Alderman Sir Mark Henig (1911-1979) was Lord Mayor of Leicester in 1967. He was the first ever chair of the English Tourist Board in 1969.

  • The Stanley Burton Centre is an interdisciplinary research centre within the University of Leicester. It was the first research centre dedicated to the study of the Holocaust and other genocides to be established within a British university


Other Leicester Jewish Institutions & Organisations

Educational & Theological

  • Hebrew and Religious School (founded 1881, renamed the oseph Joseph Memorial Schools in about 1901)

  • Minerva College (founded in 1891 in Dover, moved to Elmsleigh Hall, Elmsleigh Ave, Leicester during World War I, where it remained until closure in 1935)
    Established by sisters Fanny, Florence and Edyth Hart, the maiden daughters of Henry Hart of Canterbury (brother of Sir Israel Hart, the founder of the Leicester Hebrew Congregation), who were joined a few years later by the headmistress, Miss Whaplate. theCollege was a "High Class Establishment for Young Ladies

Other Institutions & Organisations*

  • Charity Organisation (founded 1886) to relieve of poor immigrants and emigrants.

  • Bikur Cholim Society (founded 1896) to relieve its members during sickness, want of employment and to give a helping hand when needed.

  • Orphans Aid Society (founded by 1896), in connection to Leicester Hebrew Congregation

  • Anglo-Jewish Association (founded by 1896), in connection to Leicester Hebrew Congregation.

  • Hebrew Literary, Social and Debating Society (founded by 1900).

* As listed in the Jewish Directory of 1874 and the Jewish Year Books 1896 & 1900


Community Records

  • Registration District (for BMD): Leicester (since 1 April 1997)

    • Previous Registration Districts:
         Leicester (from 1 July 1837 to 1 April 1974); and
         Leicestershire Central (1 April 1974 to 1 April 1997).

    • Any registers would now be held by current register office.

    • Register Office website


Leicester Jewish Cemeteries Information

(for records on the ALL-UK Database, see above)

  • Leicester's only Orthodox Jewish cemetery is the Gilroes Jewish Cemetery at Groby Road, Leceister LE3 9QS, opened in 1902 and containing over 900 burials.

    Jewish Gilroes
    , the website of the Gilroes Jewish Cemetery database (see above), a project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and affiliated to JCR-UK, includes a full catalogue of all the burials in the Gilroes Jewish Cemetery of the Leicester Hebrew Congregation, genealogical search facilities, photographs of all extant headstones, maps, a history of the cemetery, fascinating stories of the lives of some of those buried in the cemetery and much more

  • Leicester Progressive Jewish Synagogue uses a section of the Loughborough Municipal Cemetery.

(For additional information, see IAJGS Cemeteries Project - Leicester


Leicester Jewish Population Data


50 families

(The Jewish Year Book 1902/03)


60 families

(The Jewish Year Book 1903/04)



(The Jewish Year Book 1912)



(The Jewish Year Book 1920)



(The Jewish Year Book 1940)



(The Jewish Year Book 1945/46)



(The Jewish Year Book 1949)



(The Jewish Year Book 1950)



(The Jewish Year Book 1952)



(The Jewish Year Book 1978)



(The Jewish Year Book 1986)



(The Jewish Year Book 1991)



(The Jewish Year Book 2005)

Jewish Congregations in Leicestershire

Jewish Communities of England home page

Page created: 21 August 2005
Page most recently amended: 31 March 2023

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