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Description

The Aberdare Urban District Council Handbook and Directory for 1956. The first image shows the light blue cover with a black and white aerial photograph of Aberdare. The booklet contains the history of Aberdare, including the people, places and businesses.

Some of the adverts inside present Jewish businesses in Aberdare. Page number 12 shows an advert for Jane Cooper Ltd, 10-13 Cardiff Street, Aberdare, a women’s clothing store which provided a ‘wonderful selection of fashions’ available from 'size J.M. to Extra Outsize.' An illustration shows four women in elaborate outfits, from summer dresses, to winter coats, skirts and suits. Page 22 shows an advert for Victor Freed Ltd, 1-60 Cardiff Street, Aberdare, which had several departments for furniture, electrical goods and musical instruments. The advert reads ‘The leading firm for Furniture, Pianos, Radio and Television…established in the same family for over 50 years.’ A detailed illustration shows the Victor Freed department store in Aberdare.

Victor Freed was a prominent member of the Jewish community in Aberdare. Born in Russia in 1883, he opened his first shop in Mountain Ash in 1904. By the 1930s he had opened multiple shops in Aberdare and by the 1950s had also started trading in Cardiff.

The shops sold house furnishings, musical instruments and electrical goods, with many stores specialising in one type of product. The entire family became involved in the Victor Freed business, including his two daughters, Edna and Beatrice, who worked as shop assistants at the radio department.

In 1941, he was elected as President of Aberdare Rotarian Club, after being a member for 8 years, and was recognised for his public services in the valley. His son, Aubrey, became President in 1968.
Victor was known for his philanthropic works, helping to furnish the 1960s council houses in Aberdare and in 1958 funded an entire ward in the new Penylan Home for the Aged Jews of Cardiff.

He was heavily involved with the synagogue in Aberdare, filling a variety of roles including being its last ever secretary.

Victor died in 1966, aged 83.

‘Jane Cooper’ was a women’s clothing shop in Aberdare, managed by Jewish businesswoman Ruth Golding (Goldberg). Ruth was born in England in 1898 but raised in Penrhiwceiber. She founded ‘Jane Cooper’ (later ‘Chic Fashions’) after her second marriage to Harry Goldberg in 1939 and the business eventually occupied 10, 11 and 12 Cardiff Street. She also seems to have had another business, ‘Barbara Golds’, at 50 Commercial Street.

At the turn of the 20th century, the Cynon Valley had a small Jewish community, consisting of some fifty families throughout the towns of Abercynon, Penrhiwceiber, Mountain Ash, Aberaman and Aberdare. Most of Jewish families came to Aberdare from Eastern Europe, mainly Russia. The earliest record of Jewish presence and activity in the Cynon Valley dates to 1858-9. The name of Harris Freedman and the partnership of Lyons and Hyman are listed as trading as pawnbrokers and general dealers in Aberdare.

Initially the Jewish community worshipped in individuals' homes or business premises but in 1887 David Hart allowed the use of his premises at 19a Seymour Street, Aberdare, as a permanent Synagogue. The Aberdare Hebrew congregation was at its largest, with around 90 members, from the 1910s to the 1930s. However, the community declined and services had virtually ceased by 1957, when the congregation was down to 35. In 1966 it was reported that services were no longer held there. The building, now a private residence again, received a blue commemorative plaque in 2015.

Depository: Cynon Valley Museum: ACVMS 2000 71

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