The Rise and Fall of Welsh Jewry

Aug. 25 2016

The first Jews in Wales most likely arrived in the 12th century, although they never settled in large enough numbers to have an official community. But by 1768 there were enough Jews in Swansea—brought there by the nearby copper mines—to justify having their own cemetery, to which they added two synagogues by the mid-19th century. And this was only the beginning, writes Matthew Williams:

The Jewish communities of Cardiff, Newport, Neath, Tredegar, Pontypridd, and Merthyr Tydfil all followed a roughly similar process of development in the 19th century with the rise of Welsh industry. The Merthyr Synagogue in particular is unique among all synagogues for having its gable adorned with [the red dragon that is the symbol of Wales]. . . .

The mass immigration of East European Jews [beginning in the late 19th century] dwarfed all prior and future Jewish immigration into Britain and caused the demographic explosion of British Jews; Wales was no exception, with the Jewish community numbering over 5,000 with nineteen congregations by 1918.

Once again new congregations were built around industry (such as shipbuilding in Bangor) and Jewish people in Wales prospered culturally, with dozens of various Jewish literary societies, charity organizations, Hebrew classes, and social centers springing up in both the north and south of Wales.

In 1911, the Jews of the city of Tredegar experienced what Winston Churchill, then the home secretary, called a “pogrom.” While the Jewish community in Wales would shrink during the subsequent decades, its numbers grew significantly once again at the end of the 1930s with the influx of refugees from Hitler’s Europe. Despite subsequently undergoing another period of numerical decline, Jewish life in Wales goes on.

Read more at Wales Online

More about: British Jewry, Jewish history, Jewish World, Kindertransport, Pogroms, United Kingdom


Israel Has Survived Eight Years of Barack Obama’s False Friendship

Jan. 20 2017

In his speech justifying America’s decision to allow passage of the UN Security Council resolution declaring it a violation of international law for Jews to live in east Jerusalem, the West Bank, or the Golan Heights, Secretary of State John Kerry declared that “friends need to tell each other the hard truths.” John Podhoretz comments:

The decision in December by President Obama to abstain on the UN Security Council vote . . . marked the moment he crossed the finish line in the course he had charted from 2008 onward. The turn against Israel was complete. And, as he had when he began it, in farewell interview after farewell interview he characterized his assault on the legitimacy of the Jewish presence in the Holy Land as an act of tough love. . . .

Which raises the key question: why [only] abstain [from the resolution]? If “hard truths” define friendship, then by all means they should have made the truths as hard as possible. If Barack Obama and John Kerry truly believe the Jewish presence in east Jerusalem is illicit, then they should have voted for the resolution. Instead, they took the coward’s way out. They opened the vault to the criminals and placed the jewels in their hands while wearing white gloves so there would be no residual trace of their fingerprints. The abstention was in some weird sense the mark of their bad conscience. They wanted something to happen while maintaining some historical deniability about their involvement in it.

In the eight years of the Obama presidency, war broke out twice between the Palestinians and the Israelis and nearly broke out a third time. In each case, the issue was not the West Bank, or east Jerusalem, or anything near. . . . The idea that the settlements and the Jewish presence in East Jerusalem are the main barrier to peace between Israel and the Palestinians was proved to be a lie right before Obama’s eyes in 2009, and 2012, and 2014. And he didn’t care to see it, because he is blinded by an antipathy he wishes to ascribe to Israeli action when honesty would compel him to find it in his own misguided leftist ideology—or within his own soul.

Israel has survived the horrendous blessing of Barack Obama’s false friendship.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Barack Obama, Israel & Zionism, John Kerry, U.S. Foreign policy, US-Israel relations