Humberside

Hull's Jewish community declines over last 50 years

Menorah candles being lit
Image caption The decline in Hull's Jewish community is put down to younger people leaving the city

Hull's once-thriving Jewish population has declined tenfold over the last 50 years, the latest census figures have revealed.

The community has fallen to just 227, in marked contrast to the 2,500 in the 1962 survey.

The decline has seen the number of synagogues in the city dwindle and claims that younger Jewish people are abandoning the area.

One practical problem of a smaller population is that the community sometimes struggles to source kosher food locally.

West Hull resident Max Gold said that the lack of a kosher butcher meant that people had to order most of their food from outside of the area.

He said: "Every few weeks we have a shipment which can be sent by courier from Manchester of meat and stuff."

'Smaller scale'

The city was once home to numerous synagogues and active social and sporting clubs, such as the Hull Judeans cricket team.

Les Gold, who was born and raised in Hull, said that during his youth in the 1960s the community was thriving.

"You used to always see Jewish people when you walked round, " he said.

"It was a lovely community feeling, there still is but obviously on a much smaller scale."

The decline in worshippers means the rabbi at the Hull Hebrew Congregation, an orthodox synagogue in west Hull, only works part-time.

Image caption Rabbi Naftoli Lifschitz said that the community worked hard to support events

Despite a lack of numbers Rabbi Naftoli Lifschitz said the Jewish community was still active.

"When you have smaller numbers you do have fewer people to do the work to support events than you would in a bigger community," he said.

"There's not as many volunteers, but a lot of the members of the community are very committed and they will put up their time in order to enhance the rest of the community."

Heritage trail

In contrast to the current situation the city's historical Jewish past is still celebrated, with a heritage walking trail of former synagogues and other locations of significance.

The port of Hull was a prominent destination for migrants heading from Eastern Europe to a new life in the US. Historians estimate that more than 500,000 Jews passed through the city in the 19th Century.

Image caption The community once supported social and sporting clubs such as the Hull Judeans Cricket Club

Dr Nicholas Evans from the University of Hull said the decline of the community was down to social changes.

"It's the young people who are moving," he said.

"They're moving for study, they're moving for jobs, they're moving for marriage but also many of the people will marry out, they will chose partners who are not Jewish, and many people will no longer go to some of the Jewish synagogues."

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