Leeds ready to party for 150th

By Jonathan Kalmus, August 20, 2010

Leeds Jewry is launching a £50,000 project to celebrate 150 years of Jewish heritage and contributions to the city.

To mark LJ150, high profile exhibitions are planned over the next two years to showcase works by home-grown artists. Vintage wedding dresses and past fashions from retail giants Marks & Spencer and Burton, both started by Jews in Leeds, will also be on display.

With the assistance of Leeds City Museum, locals are being invited to share their family's stories for a communal history book. A film by members of the Zone youth club will capture the aspirations of the next generation.

To help with project funding, Leeds-born sculptor Frances Segelman has agreed to create a bronze bust of a prominent community member selected by the highest bidding sponsor.

Ms Segelman feels it is important to give something back. "My Jewish roots are very important to me, as are my Leeds roots. I feel very honoured to be involved."

Helen Frais of educational organisation Makor is co-ordinating LJ150, commemorating the founding of first purpose-built Leeds synagogue on September 4, 1860.

She says the project will also help to boost funding for Makor's annual Leeds International Festival.

"The important thing is for the kids not only to connect with older people but to appreciate their community in a completely different way."

A planning forum is being held next month to develop further events and fundraising ideas. LJ150 will be officially launched by the Chief Rabbi in October.

Last updated: 9:54am, August 20 2010