Tributes pour in for Bradford's Jewish community leader and Holocaust survivor Rudi Leavor who has died at the age of 95
Mr Leavor was born in Berlin on May 31, 1926.
He fled the capital city at aged 11 in 1937 after his father became increasingly worried about his family’s livelihoods in Germany during the rise of Hitler’s regime.
His father secured a visa working as a dentist and was told to pick a place in England aside from London and Manchester - which were too overcrowded with Jewish refugees by that time.
They ended up in Bradford where Mr Leavor lived his entire life and went on to become a dentist himself.
In 1975 he became President and Chairman of the Bradford Reform Synagogue and in 2017 he was awarded the British Empire Medal for his work with the local Jewish Community and in interfaith and community relations.
He met his late wife Marianne, who was also a Jewish refugee from Breslau, in Bradford and had four children, eight grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.
Tributes have been paid to Mr Leavor from senior figures at Bradford Council following the announcement of his death.
The Lord Mayor, Councillor Shabir Hussain, said “I am profoundly sorry to learn of Rudi Leavor's death and send my sympathy and love to his family and friends in their loss.
“Rudi was, for many years, a stalwart member of the Lord Mayor's faith advisory team, as well as a steadfast supporter of the Civic office and countless Lord Mayors' Appeals.
“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.
“His loss to this district and its communities is a great one. I am certain he will always be remembered with deep affection and enduring respect, both in Bradford and throughout the country.”
The Leader of Bradford Council, Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, said: “I am so sorry to hear of Rudi Leavor’s passing. 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 nineties, 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.”
Mr Leavor previously recalled to The Yorkshire Post, the dramatic and confusing scenes as his father whispered in his ears that they were to leave Germany.
He said they were “good Germans” but also “good Jews” but had to leave family and friends behind - many of whom didn’t survive.
Widowed Mr Leavor said: “My parents, my sister and myself were fully integrated into German society. We were good Germans, but also good Jews.
“We could feel antisemitism coming up, it wasn’t a fierce event or situation. My parents hadn’t thought of emigrating.
“One day they were arrested by the Gestapo, fortunately for just one day. It gave them the impetus to emigrate.
“I remember the day we left Berlin, my hometown. We were assembled with my grandmother, and her sisters for a coffee.
“I thought of how we were going to leave many relatives,including my grandmother, my uncles, aunts, who it was likely we’d never see again.”
Mr Leavor said that he had no idea of the existence of the concentration camps and that when news finally reached British shores - it felt “too unbelievable to be true”.
Further tributes have also been paid across social media platforms.
Bradford Civic Society said: "We are saddened to hear that Rudi Leavor - prominent member of our city's Jewish community - has passed away aged 95. Rudi came to Bradford as refugee in 1937 and went on to become a hugely respected and active figure in our city's civic life. He will be missed by many."
Bradford Cathedral posted on Twitter: "The Cathedral Community is so very sad to learn of the death of our dear friend and advocate, Rudi Leavor. We give thanks to God for his long and amazingly fruitful life and pray for his family and friends in their grief."
Labour Councillor for Bolton and Undercliffe, Si Cunningham said: "Such sad news, what a thoroughly decent human being and a remarkable life. Yorkshire has a lost a giant."
The Holocaust Exhibition and Learning Centre said: "It is with deep regret that we announce the passing of our beloved Rudi Leavor BEM. Rudi was a child Holocaust refugee who settled in Bradford and dedicated his life to Interfaith work. He will be missed by all those who knew him."