The Wartime Leicester
Jewish Community


Before World War II the Leicester Jewish Community was comparatively small. Our book of Jewish voices is alive with personal accounts of how World War 2 brought a mainly welcome influx of Jewish evacuees to the city. They came mostly from London to escape the blitz. Many were tempted to move to Leicester by the city’s thriving textile industries, and as they settled, they set up in business.



Jewish Martyrs PlaqueDuring the war and the immediate post-war period, there was a more sombre trickle into Leicester of Jewish refugees from across Europe, including some survivors of concentration camps.

Population Peaks and Falls

Soon after the blitz many of the evacuees started to return to London. We have been unable to find any formal record of the 1940 Jewish population peak in Leicester that is recalled so vividly by the book’s contributors but the best available population figures suggest:

    • 1934 -  200
    • 1939 – 350
    • 1945 – 1500
    • 1955 – 1100
    • 1965 – 1100
    • 1990 – 670
    • 2004 – 417


The Leicester Jewish Community today

After the war the religious community began to split and today there exist two distinct religious groups; the Orthodox and the Liberal Progressive, plus a substantial number of Jewish people who are affiliated to neither.

quoteMy Jewishness is all about a way of life.end-quote


quoteThere's such humour in the Yiddish language.

Just one word can say so much.end-quote


quoteThe Maccabi Youth Club brought the young Jewish community together and moulded friendships that have lasted for life.end-quote