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A letter from Joe Goldman, the Hon. Secretary of the Cardiff Old Hebrew Congregation of Cathedral Road, to Rabbi Asher Grunis of 21 De Burgh Street. It advised that at a General Meeting held on 22 April 1934, and confirmed at a General Meeting on 13 May 1934, it was unanimously resolved that he be engaged as an Official of the Cardiff Old Hebrew Congregation at a salary of three pounds a week. The President was J E Rivlin of Romilly Road and the Treasurer was A Schwartz of Cathedral Road.

At this time there were two Orthodox synagogues in Cardiff. A letter dated 25 February 1934 from Cardiff New Hebrew Congregation of Windsor Place to Rabbi Asher Grunis advised that the Board of Schechita which had been paying his salary was to be disbanded on 10 March next, and that congregation wanted him to continue as Rav for the Cardiff Community. They were willing to pay three pounds a week if the Cathedral Road Congregation did the same:

“As your salary is at present being paid by the Board of Schechita it will become necessary to make arrangements for your future salary.”
“I am instructed to inform you that subject to the agreement of the Cathedral Road congregation that you should continue as Rav for the Jewish Community in Cardiff, this congregation is prepared to pay one half of your salary as holder of that position.”

Rabbi Asher Grunis stated that he was born in Pietrokov (now Piotrków Trybunalski, although other sources mention Czarnocin/Ksarloshin), in Poland in 1877. He married Hannah Baila in 1896 and they had seven sons and one daughter. In 1902 he was appointed Rabbi of Wilczyn in Poland. In 1921 he was appointed the first communal Rav of Cardiff, overseeing the correct application of Jewish religious dietary laws. Five of the sons and one daughter came with their parents to Cardiff and one son, Hirsch, was a minister to the Bangor and Bettws-y-Coed communities before the war. Rabbi Grunis successfully campaigned to permit Jewish children to leave school early in winter on the Sabbath, and prevent Jewish students being forced to take examinations on Saturdays and Jewish Holy days. He also unsuccessfully tried to have kosher food available to Cardiff prisoners throughout the year. He died in July 1937 and he and his wife are buried in Highfields Jewish cemetery. His major work, a commentary titled P’ri Asher (Fruits of Asher), was published posthumously.

Sources: Page 43 of Bimah issue 18 (Pesach 5759 - 1999) and Introduction to the Fruits of Asher by Rabbi Asher Grunis and his son Iyeleg Grunis.

From the Grunis family archives, which are to be deposited in the National Library (Edward J. Safra Campus) at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.

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