The Benefactors and Philanthropists

The Benefactors and Philanthropists

With astounding business success, creeps in the concept of social conscience Many of the well-to-do felt it was part of their mission to make life a little easier for the vast swathes of poverty-stricken ordinary people.

Jewish people were no stranger the concept of charity or ‘tzdakah’, as it is a fundamental principal within Judaism itself, to give to the needy. It was with this ever widening gap, and their preposterously disproportionate wealth that many Jewish Merchants became some of the City of Bradford’s most generous donors.

This list includes the top flight of the ‘merchant princes’, people like the three Jacobs; Unna, Moser and Behrens and Charles Semon

Jacob Unna 1800-1880 & Jacob Moser 1839-1922

Jacob Unna promoted the building of the Bradford Eye and Ear Hospital, as well as co-founding the Bradford Chamber of Commerce with Jacob Behrens in 1851. Moving on, it is estimated that throughout his life Moser gave £750,000 to various causes and charities. Alongside his work in his textile export business he was:

  1. Founder of the Bradford Charity Organisation Society and the City Guild of Help.
  2. He was involved in founding Bradford Technical School in 1882.
  3. He served on the board of the Infirmary from 1883 and gave £5000 to a fund to build a new hospital.
  4. In 1898 he provided £10,000 as a benevolent fund for the old and infirm of the city.
  5. He supported the Bradford Children’s Hospital near Bertram Road and Wellbury Drive just off Oak Lane in Manningham.
  6. And he gave 12,000 books to Bradford Library, later Central Library.

Jacob Behrens 1806-1889

Jacob Behrens helped to reorganise Bradford Grammar School in 1871, and he helped establish the Technical College on Great Horton Road in 1882. Behrens was a prominent member of the Bradford Philosophical Society, and founded the Eye and Ear Hospital in Bradford.

Charles Semon 1814-1877

Notably Charles Semon the first Jewish Mayor of Bradford, was remembered up on his passing with such esteem by the towns folk, that his funeral was an event in itself, not unlike a state funeral. Those paying their respects to him included The Board of Guardians, Bradford Infirmary, The Eye and Ear and The Fever Hospitals, Royal National Life Boat Institution and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which is to name only a few.