These photographs show the inside of the main building of the synagogue in Cathedral Road (opened in 1897). The bimah (raised platform) is at the east end where the congregation enters.

The Jewish Chronicle (14 May 1897) description of the consecration ceremony contains the following description on pages 26-27:

“Description of the Building The new synagogue at Cardiff occupies a fine site in the Cathedral Road which has been secured, upon long lease, from the Marquess of Bute. The new building takes the place of the old synagogue in East Terrace erected in 1858, and enlarged in 1874, and which the Jewish community in Cardiff has now outgrown. The present structure accommodates 241 men on the ground floor and 156 women in the gallery, but provision has been made for extending the building, when required, at the western end, so that it may accommodate a further 191 men on the ground floor and a further 166 women in the gallery; and space has also been reserved at the rear of the site for erecting, in the future, class-rooms and residences for the Minister, Reader and Beadle.

A novel feature of the plan is the arrangement whereby the apse containing the Ark is placed at the same end of the building as the main street entrance, this being the only method of ensuring an eastward aspect for the Ark. Another detail of some novelty is the grouping of Reading Desk and Pulpit at the same ends of the building as the Ark.

Behind the Ark and enclosed by brass grilles, is the choir; and behind the choir is the main vestibule leading to the ground floor lobbies and to the two octagonal buildings containing the staircases. Both at ground floor and at gallery levels, accommodation is provided for ladies' and gentlemen's cloak-rooms. The staircases are of stone; the side galleries are carried by steel girders resting upon iron columns, which columns continue up to the level of and carry the clerestories. The apse is covered by a panelled half-dome. The Ark is semi-circular on plan, and is super-imposed by a half-domical roof with a low-level clerestory over. The Reading platform is approached by two flights of stairs, and the apse is reached by a further flight of steps. The building is supplied with four distinct exits. The external elevations have been dictated by the form of plan. The main façade next Cathedral Road consists of a projecting porch, super-imposed by the apse, at the rear of which rises the gable of the nave. On either side of the porch are the two octagonal towers containing the staircases, connected with the porch by low-level structures, which also contain the cloak-rooms. The octagonal towers have domical roofs, and the apse a half-domical roof. The side elevations comprise the two-storied aisles, rising above which are the clerestories of the nave, lighted by semicircular windows. The whole of the elevations have been carried out in blue Pennant stone with Bath stone dressings. The building is heated by hot air, and is lighted by electricity.”

Ralph Cantor: "From the outside it’s Moorish, got the big, you know, big roof et cetera. You go in, and it really was a large synagogue — very large synagogue, and I think it would probably — there was a ladies' balcony going all the way — well, three-quarters of the way around and what they did, they had the ark and where the rabbi used to do his sermons at one end, in fact it’s the end where the doors are now, it was that end of the synagogue, yeah, and it would seat about, I think, fifteen-hundred people. And on a High Holy Day, on the New Year and Yom Kippur, there were so many people that they had to have chairs going up the aisles, extra chairs going all the way around the synagogue because there were so many people there."
(From a JHASW oral history interview with Ralph Cantor, 20 January 2019.)

Philip Kaye: "And as you walked around, as you walked into the synagogue on the, immediately on the left-hand side was where the Rav would sit, Rabbi Rogosnitzky. And he had his seat by there, and the front row would be where the Fines sat, and my dad sat in the third row, next door to his brother, and that was my dad’s seat, and he would always sit there. There were three blocks in the downstairs men’s area, and then there were, there was a staircase to the left, and a staircase to the right, the pulpit where the sermons were delivered in the middle. And then upstairs, around in the gallery which was the ladies’ area—that just went all the way around the three blocks. And my mother used to sit upstairs on the opposite side to my father because if she sat above my father, they would not be able to speak or talk to one another during the service, so she sat on the opposite side, as did most of the ladies, they sat opposite to the opposite side to their husbands."

(From a JHASW oral history interview with Philip Kaye, 29 November 2018.)

SK: "Yeah. Well, the – I remember the first time going there, the… there were so many people, it was so crowded, that all the teenager was, was sitting at the back on, ordinary little chairs, there wasn’t enough room. And that’s how it was, for many years, ‘cos it was the only one. It was a very, nice building, and, lots of memories of that place, really, ‘cos… the marriage, the weddings, and the bar mitzvahs, and all the girls went there to look at the boys, ‘cos the men are upstairs and the women were downstairs, they don’t sit together as I’m sure you know by now, and so if we’re upstairs you have a good scout round, see, see who all the new ones were, coming into Cardiff. Yeah."

(From a JHASW oral history interview with SK, 5 December 2018.)

Marian Lane: "Overlooking the male sections and you had it on both sides and behatted, begloved especially the women, I mean the men had their head with hair, it was a kippah anyway, but you weren’t dressed in those days if you didn’t have shoes and a hat and — and gloves, sometimes long gloves, yeah.

MH: So, everyone would be in their — in their best clothes then?

Marian Lane: [Whispers], absolutely."

(From a JHASW oral history interview with Marian Lane, 25 January 2019.)

These photographs are part of a collection taken by Alan Schwartz prior to the closure of the synagogue in 1989. They are reproduced with the permission of his brother Anthony Schwartz.

Depository: Glamorgan Archives; Cardiff United Synagogue.

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