Uncovering Solomon Lever

by Jason Lever, Guest Blogger

The most
wonderful sight in the Jewish Museum London is the huge banner of the London Jewish
Bakers Union
(below) in the main foyer. Alright, I am biased. My great-uncle, Solomon
Lever, was its general secretary for thirty years and Mayor of Hackney (1951/2). 


2016 marks 57 years since Solomon Lever’s death and this was also the diminished number of members the union had on its books by the start of the 1960s. Their general secretary’s death in 1959 ‘almost certainly contributed to the eventual collapse of the union’ by 1970 according to Larry Wayne’s ‘Union Bread’ (2009). 

A newspaper article by Peter Whaley, entitled, ‘57 bakers throw in the sponge’, stated that “The trade union that just never stopped growing SMALLER and smaller is about to disappear altogether. It is the London Jewish Bakers Union, which has shrunk to only 57 ageing members since refugees from Czarist Russia set it up in the 1890s” (Hackney archives).

After a fifteen year odyssey of research into Uncle Solly’s fascinating life – and tragic death in 1959 after kidnapping – I published his life story on www.unclesolly.org.uk 

This started among the dusty tomes
of the TUC annals in an Oxford University library, where I uncovered four,
magnificent speeches broadcast to the nation on the resurgence of fascism after
the war and recognition of the State of Israel. I went on to unearth
fascinating material in the Mayor’s Parlour correspondence in Hackney Council’s
archives, covering Arsenal in the FA Cup Final and Quaker Peace Missions to

imageSolomon Lever during his Mayoral Inauguration

Memories and unpublished memoirs of family members filled in gaps and
the wonders of the JC online enabled me to find lots of press coverage of his abduction
and funeral with crowds of
2,000 people lining the streets of Hackney.

The banner taking pride of place at the Jewish Museum London is a constant reminder of all this man achieved, which is particularly poignant in this timely year.

Discover more of Solomon Lever’s story at www.unclesolly.co.uk

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