Bradford Jewish Timeline


First Jews arrives in Bradford, ‘Mr Jacobs’ a travelling Jeweller possibly from London passes through on business, as early as 1823.

Leo Schuster opens premises in 1829 on the present site of the Bradford Hilton, formerly the Norfolk Gardens Hotel.


Jacob Behrens arrives in England in 1832 and relocated his business from Leeds to Bradford in 1838.


Victor Edelstein, future business partner of Jacob Moser born in Binteln-on-Wesser, Germany in 1842.

Jacob Unna sets up his woollen export business in Bradford in 1844.

Rabbi Dr Joseph Strauss, the first Rabbi of Bradford is born in Berlichingen, Wuertemberg, Germany in 1845.

First railway in Bradford was opened by the Leeds and Bradford Railway on 1 July 1846, meaning woollen exports would profoundly increase, leading the merchants to attain even greater fortunes.


Chamber of Commerce founded in 1851, Behrens, Unna, Fulda and Semon are key founding figures.

A taste for culture is expounded as prominent Bradford Jews including Jacob Unna help to build St George’s Hall.


Jacob Moser arrives in Bradford in 1863.

Charles Semon becomes Bradford’s first Jewish Mayor in 1864.

Chief Rabbi Nathan Marcus Adler includes Bradford in his provincial tour in 1865, as the community is deemed large enough.


Artist William Rothenstein is born in 1872.

Rabbi Dr Joseph Strauss arrives from Berlin via London in 1873. He is appointed first Rabbi of Bradford.

Three years after his arrival Rabbi Strauss is appointed lecturer in Hebrew and Oriental languages at the Airedale Independent College, Bradford.

Jewish Association in Bradford is formed in 1873.

Charles Semon dies in 1877 in Switzerland, funeral held in Bradford and thousands line the streets to pay their respects to one of the city’s greatest men.


Bradford Reform Synagogue opend in 1881 on Bowland Street, originally called the Bradford Synagogue for British and Foreign Jews.

Jacob Unna dies in 1881.

Jacob Behrens is knighted by Queen Victoria in 1882. He dies seven years later in 1889.


Berthold Reif arrives in 1892, a shrewd investor and business man he buys businesses during the Great Depression which had gone bankrupt and turns them around once recovery is sound enough.


Orthodox Synagogue in Spring Gardens is opened in 1906


Jacob Moser becomes Bradford’s first Jewish Lord Mayor (1910-1911)

Bradford Jews fight at the front as World War One claims millions of lives.


Rabbi Strauss dies in 1922.


The Kindertransport scheme brings 25 teenagers to Bradford, from Nazi Germany.

Albert Waxman and Rudy Leavor both arrive in Bradford.


Rabbi Erich Bienheim arrives in 1949.


The Jewish Chronicle run its Bradford Supplement, about the ‘vital community’ detailing its successes and connections.

In 1958 Albert Waxman sets up his business A Waxman (Fibres) Ltd, a synthetic fibre business at Elland. Now known as Waxman Ceramics, the company is one of the UK’s leading distributers of tiles and mosaic.


Rabbi Erich Bienheim dies in 1962, after serving Bradford as its minister for 12 years.


Orthodox community spreads further out and the Synagogue relocates to Springhurst Road, Shipley in 1970.

Rabbi Michael Heilbron appointed Reform Minister at Bowland Street in 1973. He produces a short book, ‘Jews and Judaism in Bradford’ with the Bradford Community Relations Council.


Jewish community in Bradford in a noticeable decline, as many families up-sticks and move away to either Leeds, London or elsewhere including Israel.

Olive Messer of Shipley West Ward becomes Bradford’s third Jewish Lord Mayor in 1984.

Nigel Grizzard publishes his ‘Follow Bradford’s Jewish Heritage Trail’ guide book.

In 1989 BBC TV produce an hour long documentary, ‘The Hostel’ as part of its season of programs commemorating 50 years since the outbreak of WWII. It tells the story of the 24 lads and 1 lass who were rescued from Nazi Germany in 1939, and came to the Carlton Hotel in Manningham to find solace.

Regeneration of Little Germany begins and many of the painted signs and names of Jewish firms from the past era gradually fade away or are removed. All that remains clearly visable is the great ironwork of S.L. Behrens and Co. on East Parade.


Jonathan Silver redevelops Salts Mill in Saltaire and thus re-invigorates the character of the area, forming a micro-economy with a knock on effect of attracting international business and tourism to the area.

Rabbi Walter Rothschild leaves Bradford and Leeds and begins his long stint as a rabbi in Berlin and other areas of Germany.

Jonathan Silver dies in 1997 aged just 47 after battling cancer.


In 2002 author Tamar Yellin writes ‘Kafka in Bronteland’.The book of 13 short stories wins International Short Story Award 2006 and The Reform Judaism prize in 2006 amongst other nominations.

Jerome’s Victoria Mills in Shipley is closed and eventually the mill complex is developed into very desirable and attractive apartments.

In 2007 Jewish Heritage Trails are once again unravelled and walked down as Nigel Grizzard publishes a booklet and gives guided walks around Jewish Bradford. Photographer David David provides him with images of Jewish life and people.


Jewish Heritage UK place Bradford Synagogue in the top 10 Synagogues of historical importance in Britain and Ireland.

Making Their Mark begin in 2012 to record the history of the Jews of Bradford and develop the trail further, with the proposed addition of a Jewish Heritage Hub at the Synagogue.

After over 120 years, Bradford Hebrew Congregation in Shipley closes in November 2012,