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Event organised to share plans for Welsh Jewish Heritage Centre

15 Feb 2024 2 minute read
Chris Andrews. The historical Merthyr Synagogue. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

An open day will take place this weekend to allow people to explore Merthyr Tydfil’s historic synagogue and help shape plans to create a Welsh Jewish Heritage Centre there.

The event will take place at the town’s Theatr Soar next Sunday (18th February) from 10am to 3.30pm.

There will be tours of the synagogue throughout the day, along with music from a Welsh klezmer band and a talk on the history of Merthyr’s once-thriving Jewish community.

The project team will also be on hand to find out what locals think of the plans for the future of the building and record their memories of its past life.

At risk

The Synagogue, which is among the most significant historic buildings in Merthyr, opened in 1877 and closed in 1983 and had been unused since 2006, its condition deteriorating to the extent that it was formally designated as being at risk.

A painting of the Synagogue by Lowry was recently sold for £277,000.

Lowry’s painting of Merthyr synagogue

The Foundation for Jewish Heritage conducted a Feasibility Study in 2018, funded by the Muriel and Gershon Coren Charitable Trust exploring the viability of a Heritage Centre at the Grade II listed building.

It went on to purchase the site in 2019 and carried out urgent repairs in 2020 with financial support from private Trusts, individual donors and Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service.

In 2022, the Foundation secured funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Welsh Government and Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council to develop the plans.


Once established, the Heritage Centre will present the 250+ year history, culture and contribution of the Welsh Jewish community, and will also address contemporary issues relating to diversity and social inclusion, promoting cross-cultural understanding.

The Chair of the Foundation’s trustees, Dame Helen Hyde, said: “I’m delighted that we can share our ideas for the synagogue and start to refine them at the Open Day. I’m very much looking forward to meeting local people and listening to their memories, feedback and ideas.”

The Foundation’s Chief Executive Michael Mail added: ‘It’s important that the local community has a strong voice in this exciting project, so I encourage everyone in Merthyr to come along, discover the synagogue’s fascinating story and take part in the consultation”.

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