TRIBUTES have flooded in for Rudi Leavor, a well-loved leader of Bradford’s Jewish community who died on Tuesday at the age of 95.

Mr Leavor, a Holocaust survivor and the chairman of the Bradford Synagogue, helped to forge a “unique” partnership between the city’s Jewish and Muslim communities that made global headlines.

Driven on by Mr Leavor’s goal of “building bridges rather breaking them down”, the synagogue became the only one in the world with a Muslim on its committee and received Royal praise for its multi-faith work.

In 2013, with Bradford’s Jewish community dwindling, the city’s last remaining synagogue faced an uncertain future – and it was largely down to Bradford Council for Mosques, and local businesses, that it was saved.

When Mr Leavor was awarded his British Empire Medal, a cabinet office spokesman said he had been “instrumental” in keeping the synagogue viable, and had built a “unique relationship with all religious leaders”, particularly the Muslim community.

Mr Leavor, who was born in Berlin, left Nazi Germany with his parents and sister as refugees for Bradford in 1937 when he was 11.

He attended Bradford Grammar School and later Leeds University where he trained to become a dentist. He later had a successful dental practice based in Heckmondwike.

Mr Leavor’s family paid tribute to a man who they described as a “great inspiration to all”.

Announcing that he had died peacefully in his sleep, his family said: “He was the greatest husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather and great grandfather ever.

“Whilst we are all devastated, we take comfort from the fact that he lived a very long, successful and fruitful life full of love for all his family. We know how much he was loved by so many people and a great inspiration to us all.

“Love Anthony, Jonathan, Deborah and Caroline. X”

His son Jonathan Leavor, of Queensbury, told the T&A: “He did touch the hearts of so many people. He built bridges rather break them down.

“He loved his adopted city of Bradford, where he lived most of his life.

“People loved him for what he’s done in Bradford. He was embraced by people of all religions.

“He had his fingers in so many pies locally and nationally. He was very musical and was a member of the Leeds Philharmonic Choir for over 50 years.

“He was always asked to sing at the Holocaust memorial and he was in demand at age 94. He was still singing.”

Jonathan also spoke about how his father, who caught Covid-19 a month ago, looked to be recovering.

“He caught this dreaded virus. The doctors said he medically recovered from Covid, but then couldn’t regain his energy.

“We knew he was sick but thought he was out of danger. He seemed to be doing well and on Monday he was joking and happy with his lot.”

The Lord Mayor, Councillor Shabir Hussain, said “I am profoundly sorry to learn of Rudi Leavor’s death. His vast life experience, which included fleeing Nazi Germany with his family as a child, coupled with his great personal warmth, made him a natural communicator and his outstanding efforts promoting and enhancing interfaith community relations are as well-respected as they are well-known.”

The Leader of Bradford Council, Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, said: “Rudi was a brilliant man, a strong advocate for Bradford and a faith leader who the whole district looked up to. It’s sad to think that we will never hear his beautiful singing in the synagogue again. We owe him a huge debt of gratitude. In his 90s, when most people would have been long retired, he was organising events, taking part in significant commemorations and passing on his life experience, learning and wisdom to the next generation. He will be very much missed by all of us.”

Kersten England, Chief Executive of Bradford Council, said: “Rudi was a lovely and extraordinary man. He gave himself selflessly and tirelessly in service of this district and its people. His energy, activism and optimism was inspiring. We are privileged to have had him amongst us. He was the best of us.”

David Green, former leader of Bradford Council, said: “Rudi made time for people and fought to bring together all communities to try and ensure that what he experienced under the Nazis never happens again.”