HUNDREDS of people, including members of the city’s Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Sikh and Hindu communities, attended a memorial event for the late Bradford Synagogue chairman Rudi Leavor.

Guests including the Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, Deputy Lord Mayor of Bradford, President of Bradford Council for Mosques and the Bishop of Leeds were at Bradford Cathedral yesterday to remember Dr Leavor, who died in July, aged 95.

The Bishop of Leeds, the Right Reverend Bishop Nick Baines, said Dr Leavor will be remembered as a man who gave “time, love and compassion” to fellow faith leaders. He said: “Rudi was a man of confident humility - in his faith, his community and his story. That is why he will not be forgotten.”

Ed Anderson, Lord-Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, said Dr Leavor was a great inspiration and rightly known as “a legend”. He added: “His energy, even at the age of 95, was incredible, and all devoted to helping others and promoting peace and goodwill. I feel truly privileged to have known him.”

Dr Leavor came to Bradford in 1937, aged 11, after fleeing Nazi Germany with his parents and sister. He went to Bradford Grammar School and became a dentist. At Bradford Reform Synagogue he presided over funerals and weddings, led the choir and worked tirelessly to look after the building. In 2017 he was awarded the British Empire Medal in 2017 for his interfaith work in Bradford.

Dr Zulfi Karim, speaking on behalf of Bradford’s faith communities, reflected on the support of neighbouring Muslim communities when the Synagogue faced closure, which made global headlines. “Rudi wanted to share this story to the world - and it made the New York Times and the Times in Israel,” said Dr Karim, who also spoke movingly of their friendship. “Five years ago when my mother was severely ill Rudi turned up at the hospital to give me moral support. When she was passing away he asked if he could join me at her bedside to say a prayer. It was a moment I will never forget. He always brought gifts to Muslim, Skih and Hindu festivals. Today is the start of Inter Faith Week. Thank you, Rudi, for the love and respect you gave us over the years.”

Dr Leavor’s family paid tribute with a montage of photographs - including one of him with Oscar winner Steven Spielberg, who invited Rudi to the LA premiere of his film about Berlin child refugees. - and his lifelong love of music was celebrated with performances by Bradford Cathedral Choir and the Leeds Philharmonic Orchestra, of which Rudi was a member for 50 years. The T&A’s front page tribute to Rudi was highlighted, along with an obituary in The Times, and his son Jonathan said: “He read both papers cover to cover, it would have made him so proud.”

He said Rudi was in such high demand that regional cities arranged Holocaust memorial events around his availability: “He was invited to Berlin by city leaders and the Jewish Museum and spoke to German youth about his experience escaping Nazi Germany.” He said his father’s greatest achievement was receiving the BEM, with other highlights attending a Downing Street reception for high achievers in later life, and Prince Edward’s visit to Bradford Synagogue in 2019.

Deputy Mayor Cllr Bev Mullaney said: “There are few people of Rudi’s stature and significance. We’re proud to call him a fellow Bradfordian.”

Bradford Synagogue Trustee Laurence Saffer said: “Rudi spent his life seeking tolerance and respect and shared his Holocaust experience so others may learn. The synagogue was at the heart of what he did. We will continue to play a full part in civic life, engage with and support all faith communities and challenge extremism.”