Q & A: Hilton Lorie, Leeds Jewish Representative Council

1. What motivates you to be involved in communal life?

I’m very proud of the City of Leeds and especially so, the history of the Jewish community in Leeds. I’m also very proud of my family’s contribution to Jewish life in Leeds. On my mother’s side as a little boy I always saw a lot of hands on community work taking place and spent my school holidays contributing to this. My father ended up in Leeds before WW2 and was welcomed and helped into the community, and my parents always felt they must uphold their responsibility to do the same for others. That is what motivates me to try to make sure that Leeds continues to be a vibrant, caring Jewish community that still contributes an enormous amount to the city as a whole.

2. What is the most exciting project that you are currently involved in?

The most important piece of work that the community is involved in at present is the successful establishment of the new Jewish high school combined with the development of the Brodetsky campus. Consolidating communal infrastructure on the one site will increase cooperation and deepen partnerships between the various communal institutions. The most exciting project that I’m personally currently involved in is the focussing and restructuring of the community’s various interfaith efforts. The Rep Council is well
placed to ensure that this work is done effectively and with impact, delivered collaboratively by both community members and organisations. This work is tremendously important for both the Jewish and wider community in Leeds and beyond.

3. How has the community changed in recent years from your perspective?

The community now gets together and looks at things more strategically and because of that, supports each other’s projects. If you’ve taken a strategic view and have an agreed strategy in place, it is more likely that individual projects will receive the support they need.

4. What are the biggest challenges facing the community today?

Our biggest challenge is to constantly ensure we're engaging new people in the community, whether they are in our community but don’t get actively involved, or they are not affiliated with the community at all. We’ve got to find new ways of engaging people, creating as many boxes as possible that people can tick which allow them to get involved in their own unique way. In particular, it’s important to constantly recruit new young people to the community, by showing them that Leeds is a great place to be Jewish. Furthermore, as a wider community we need to raise the level of adult Jewish education provision so that more Jewish people realise what a marvelous thing it is to be Jewish.

5. How has the JLC added value to your work in the community?

For the LJRC, the JLC provides a channel through which UK Jewry can find out about what’s going on in Leeds – it’s important for us to spread the word about who we are and what we do as a community. Furthermore, communities like Leeds can only benefit from central strategic thinking which is the aspect of the JLC that is particularly worthwhile. The JLC realises that the outlying communities like Leeds are crucial to UK Jewry and therefore need to be part of that strategic conversation. In doing so, the JLC is leading the way in proactively planning ahead for the future of UK Jewry.