Leeds upbeat on its future

By Marcus Dysch, September 19, 2008

Efforts to promote Jewish life in Leeds are "moving forward positively", almost two years after the publication of a report into the future of the city's community.

The community's strategic-planning group, now rebranded as Leeds Jewish Future, has just installed its first development worker, Neil Clarke.
His first task, according to Leeds Jewish Representative Council vice-president Robert Bartfield, "is to develop a communal database so that we can identify every Jewish resident in the area. We can then ensure that every communal facility and event can be known to the relevant age group."

LJRC commissioned the report from Paris-based Leatid - which advises communities on development - to create a framework to reverse dwindling numbers. Among the proposals was a campaign to keep Jewish students in the city after graduating and offering free shul memberships.

One successful project has been the Leeds Jewish Initiative, a social networking group for the 18-to-35 age range. Membership has swelled beyond 300 over the past year.

"We get people at our events from Manchester, Liverpool and other neighbouring cities, which is great to show off what we have to offer," the Initiative's Natalie Jackson reported. "Our ultimate aim is to provide a social outlet for young adults in Leeds so that they can meet new people."

Last updated: 2:20pm, September 19 2008