Thanks to a sizable grant, the Jewish History Association of South Wales has begun a project to record oral histories and digitize photographs documenting Jewish life in South Wales. The BBC reports:
A century ago, 6,000 Jewish people lived in Wales; today best estimates put the population in the hundreds. Migration was driven by the industrial revolution in Wales, combined with persecution in Russia and Eastern Europe. By the late 19th century there were thriving Jewish communities in Swansea, Merthyr Tydfil, Brynmawr, Aberdare, and Pontypridd.
In the 1940s, so many Jewish workers had come to the area to support the war effort that the predominant languages heard on Treforest Industrial Estate [in the borough of] Rhondda Cynon Taff were Polish, German, and Czech. Yet by 1999 Merthyr’s once 400-strong community had disappeared altogether when George Black, “the Last Jew in Merthyr,” died at the age of eighty-two.
The History Association’s first task is to research the stories of people named on the Cardiff Reform Synagogue’s memorial tablet, . . . erected in memory of relatives of synagogue members who died in the Holocaust, and whose graves are unknown.