I’ve been racking my brains this week trying to remember why a certain name rings a bell with me. It all started when the Curator at MJM said she was about to retrieve some portraits of important Jewish Mancunians from GMCRO where they are stored. The family name Laski occurred twice in her list of portraits. As a child I heard this name often and had some vague idea that it was associated with communal leaders from the past. The internet is a great tool and it didn’t take me long to do a bit of research on the Laski family of Manchester.
This is what I found out:
· NATHAN LASKI (1863–1941: long before my time!) was a businessman and communal leader. Born in Russia and brought up in Middlesbrough, he settled in Manchester establishing himself as a successful cotton merchant with extensive connections in India. In 1906 he became a city magistrate. At various periods he was president of the Manchester Great Synagogue, Jewish Board of Guardians, Jewish Hospital, and Council of Manchester and Salford Jews. He was honorary president of the local Zionist Central Council and for a time treasurer of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. He became recognized as the head of the Manchester Jewish community. (So that’s why I’ve heard of him but he died long before I was born!)
· His wife, SARAH (1869–1948), was a member of the Manchester city council for many years.
· NEVILLE JONAS LASKI (1890–1969: I’ll admit I was around in the 50’s and 60’s) son of Nathan and Sarah achieved distinction as a lawyer. He became successively recorder of Burnley, judge of appeal in the Isle of Man, and recorder and judge of the crown court of Liverpool. Within the Jewish community he held many offices, rising to greatest prominence as president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews (1933–39). This meant he was president of the Board during the dark years of ascendant Nazi power and has been criticized for being insufficiently pro-Zionist.
Anyone else know anything interesting about the Laski family and their association with Manchester Jewish community?