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Description

This letter appears to concern a dispute between the congregation of Cardiff Old Hebrew Congregation at Cathedral Road, and Rabbi Asher Grunis, about who should say Kaddish (the prayer traditionally recited in memory of the dead). The respondent states, "We certainly agree with Rabbi Grunis that the children having started should in the circumstances be permitted to continue to say Kaddish, notwithstanding the fact that both parents are alive." There are also two newspaper cuttings in this archive concerning Kaddish. One dated 29 May 1925 from the Jewish Chronicle defends orphans who "gabble" Kaddish without appearing to understand the words: "Do not search the efficacy of Kaddish-saying, but with your psychological eye consider the innermost depth of the orphan's soul at the time when he is saying or even "gabblin" Kaddish, and you will discover the efficacy of it." The other cutting from the Jewish Chronicle of 14 June 1935 describes the will of Mr Isaac Baron, of Cardiff, and relates, "Rabbi Asher Grunis has declined the bequest on the grounds that he will not accept any money for the recitation of Kaddish." Rabbi Asher Grunis was born in Pietrokov in Poland in 1877. A child prodigy, at the age of nineteen he was appointed Rabbi of Wilczyn in Poland. He married Hannah Baila in 1896 and they had seven sons and one daughter. 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: Bimah article by grandson Asher Grunis 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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