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  • Photographs relating to a damaged Torah Wimpel, Cardiff, 26 May 1992

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Description

This item consists of 5 photographs; the first image features Leo Frank's Torah Wimpel, damaged on 26 May 1992; the second image features a repaired wimpel; image three shows the wimpel's text and translation, images four and five provide information about Leo Frank and the Torah Wimpel.

It is likely that the wimpel came to the Cardiff Reform Synagogue with a scroll that had been rescued from pre-holocaust Germany and brought to Cardiff by the Mendle brothers ( founding members of the Reform congregation). In 1988, under the guidance of Trude Owen, an embroidery was added to it. Vandal intruders tried to set the wimpel on fire in May 1992. The damage has been repaired but is still visible. It too now forms part of the wimpel's history.

Leo Frank is thought to have been a Jewish teacher in Fischach, Germany, who, in addition to teaching the children, acted also as cantor preacher, shochet, mohel, and pastor. The wimpel is inscribed with Leo Frank's name and date of birth (30 January 1888), and with a short prayer.

What is a wimpel?
The wimpel acts as a binder, holding together the scroll. Is has been universally employed for this purpose for centuries throughout Central Europe; in the UK, such binders are usually simple and more functional. It is made from the swaddling cloth worn by a boy at his circumcision and inscribed with his details. The wimpel would have been presented to the synagogue by the boy at his first visit, normally at the agree of three and ten years later was used for the scroll from which he read his bar mitzvah

The Cardiff Reform Synagogue was founded in 1948 as the Cardiff New Synagogue. The following year, it became a constituent member of the Movement for Reform Judaism. Born in reaction against the more restrictive traditions of the Orthodox Judaism of Cardiff Hebrew Congregation, such as the prohibition of driving on the Sabbath and the ban on interfaith marriages, the new Synagogue appealed to the immigrants who had fled the war-torn Europe, where the Reform movement was already well-established. The congregation worships in a converted Methodist Chapel on Moira Terrace they acquired in 1952.

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/card1/index.htm).

Depository: Glamorgan Archives.

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