LEICESTER


LEICESTER, county town in central England. A handful of Jews (but no community) lived here in the Middle Ages. They were expelled by Simon de Montfort in 1231 but were invited by his aunt, the countess of Winchester, to farm her lands. A section of the ancient Roman forum known as "Jewry Wall" has no connection with Jews. A modern community was formed after the influx of refugees from Russia at the close of the 19th century. In 1970, the Jewish population numbered approximately 1,100 out of a total population of some 283,540. SIR ISRAEL HART (1835–1911) played a prominent civic role and was repeatedly mayor. In 1928, following the elevation of Leicester to the status of a city in 1919, the office of mayor was elevated to lord mayor. The first Jewish lord mayor was Alderman Cecil Herbert Harris (1954) and the second Sir Mark Henig (1967). Two Jews, Barnett *Janner (Baron Janner of Leicester) and M. Goldsmith, were named honorary freemen of Leicester in 1971. In the mid-1990s the Jewish population dropped significantly to approximately 670. In the 2001 British census, Leicester was found to have a declared Jewish population of 417. An Orthodox synagogue and a variety of other institutions remained. The University of Leicester maintained a Holocaust Studies Centre, formerly headed by Professor Aubrey Newman.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Levy, in: JHSET, 5 (1902–05), 34–42; J. Jacobs, Jews of Angevin England (1893), 238, 377; Rigg-Jenkinson, Exchequer; Roth, England, index.

[Cecil Roth]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.