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Description

A small notebook titled ‘Aberaman Book 1.’ The book is in poor condition, the cover has been damaged, the former leather cover has peeled off and been repaired with paper and tape. The inside shows records of the electrical lines around Aberdare. The book includes sketches of roads and buildings in Aberaman, for example Cardiff Road and Lewis Road, and written information such as the name, use and address of the premises, the date of the service and details of work done, including ‘joint’ made and position and state of fuse boxes etc. This book seems to have been used throughout the 1920s, as some of the entries include the service run date, ranging from 1920 to 1923.

The book includes some Jewish names and businesses. These include: J Zeitlin, Levitt and Cohen.

J Zeitlin is recorded at 166 Cardiff Road, next to the Lamb Hotel. His premises is detailed as an Ironmonger. The sketch and texts details the position of the premises' fuse box as in the cupboard. Although there is no other recorded evidence of a J Zeitlin, it is a known Jewish name, as a Mr M. Zeitlin was a committee member of the Cardiff Jewish Institute during the same time period (1925)

Another page records the name Levitt, whose premise on Cardiff Road is described as a workshop. However, these details have been crossed out in a red pencil. This is another Jewish name, which could refer to Morris W Levitt, a Jewish businessman who ran a furniture shop out of his house on Lewis Street, Aberdare (1911 census). In 1939, he was also recorded as a furniture dealer in Cardiff.

One page records a ‘Cohen’ whose premises of 17 Lewis Street, is detailed as a drapery and antique shop. The sketch shows that the shop is next to another name ‘Bodger.’ The sketch and written text also describe the fuse box position as ‘on wall in shop.’ Interestingly, the 1911 census records a Henry Cohen, a Jewish jeweller and draper shop keeper, residing at 17 Lewis Street, Aberaman, which confirms that this is a Jewish business.

Henry Cohen was born in London in 1882. By 1900 he was living in Aberdare and greatly involved in the Jewish community there. In 1901, he was elected as the secretary to the Aberdare Congregation. In 1906, he was elected as the Treasurer of the Aberdare and District Jewish Literary and Social Society and elected as president the year after. In 1911, Henry Cohen was running his jeweller and draper shop on Lewis Street, Aberaman, living with his wife Betty Cohen and daughter, Sophie Cohen, born 1909.

In 1924, as a Councillor, Cohen was elected as Vice-chairman of the Health Committee of the Aberdare Urban District Council: He was the first Jew in South Wales to hold the position. The next year, he was elected as chairman of the Health Committee. Overall, he was a member of Aberdare Urban District Council for 9 years.

Henry Cohen died at his home in Cardiff in 1967, aged 85.


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 2009 875

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