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  • Booklet containing the history of Swansea Hebrew Congregation, 1980

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Description

This booklet was published in honour of the 250th anniversary of the settlement of Jews in South Wales as well as the 25th anniversary of the Ffynone Synagogue of the Swansea Hebrew Congregation. The booklet contains the history of the congregation from 1730 to 1980, written by N. Neville H. Saunders.

Saunders provides several interesting anecdotes pertaining to the history of the congregation. An amusing example is the peculiar incident that took place in 1869 when a member of many years wishing to place a headstone on his wife's grave was refused entry to the cemetery. Two other members wanting to place headstones on the graves of their relatives were also refused entry to prevent the third person from walking in with them.

Another interesting event is the case of Mr. Moses who in 1871 refused to sign a deposition on the Sabbath and the prisoner, who was accused of stealing a pair of stockings and a cap from Mr. Moses, was released.

The booklet also contains a rare picture of the Goat Street synagogue and many photographs of ministers who have served the congregation throughout the years.

The Swansea Jewish Community is the oldest modern Jewish community in Wales with records going back to the 1740s. The first formal mention of a congregation dates in 1768 when a small Jewish cemetery was established on Town Hill. After worshipping at several temporary locations, a purpose-built synagogue was erected for the Swansea Hebrew Congregation in 1818. It was replaced by a bigger synagogue on Goat Street in 1859. In 1906, a group of recently arrived Yiddish-speaking immigrants set up a more orthodox congregation as supplementary to the main synagogue. This community, the Swansea Beth Hemedrash, developed independently while maintaining close ties to the Swansea Hebrew Congregation. In 1941, the Goat Street synagogue was destroyed in a German air raid and the congregation continued to worship in temporary premises at Cornhill House on Christina Street (note: JCR-UK incorrectly refers to the location as Christian Street). A new synagogue was finally built in 1955 on Ffynone Street. Around the same time, the Swansea Beth Hemedrash was incorporated into the Swansea Hebrew Congregation. The Ffynone Street synagogue was sold in 2009 but the congregation continues to rent a hall in the building for worship.

Sources:
'The History of the Jewish Diaspora in Wales' by Cai Parry-Jones (http://e.bangor.ac.uk/4987);
JCR-UK/JewishGen (https://www.jewishgen.org/jcr-uk/community/swansea.htm).

Depository: West Glamorgan Archives.

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