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New project launched to trace history of Jewish people in mid, west and north Wales

26 Nov 2023 3 minute read
The Wartski’ family, Bangor, 1892.

A new project has launched which aims to plot the presence of Jews in mid, west, and north Wales from the 19th century onwards.

The six-month long research project follows the work of the Jewish History Association of South Wales/Cymdeithas Hanes Iddewig De Cymru (JHASW/CHIDC), established to preserve and share Jewish heritage in south Wles.

Preserved

Klavdija Erzen, Programme and Project Manager, said: “The Jewish heritage of Wales deserves to be better preserved and better known.

“After the pioneering work we have done in south Wales, we are now turning our attention to the rest of the country. This will be the first time that a comprehensive survey of sources and resources has been attempted.”

Mid-, west, and especially north Wales has a rich Jewish history. Jews moved there in large numbers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, escaping persecution in Eastern Europe.

The Wartski jewellery shop. at 21 High St, Bangor. The family lived over the shop.

During World War 2, the refugees from National Socialism in Germany found sanctuary there.

However, the Jewish communities in these areas have largely disappeared, as has awareness of their presence and contribution.

So far, there has been no co-ordinated effort to document their presence and preserve and share their heritage.

The projects work will determine what material relating to Jewish heritage is being held by local archives, museums, and libraries and researchers will also talk to local history and heritage organisations and research local newspapers.

Viability

Klavdija Erzen added, “We will be assessing the viability of contacting the remaining members of these communities. And we will explore what digital and physical material could be created and how to best share the heritage with the wider public.

“The results of this initial project will inform the development of a larger project to preserve and share the Jewish heritage of mid-, west, and north Wales.

”We would be delighted to hear from anyone who has any information about Jewish communities or archives in these areas.”

The photos used in this article were shared by Michael Manson, with whom the Jewish History Association of South Wales recorded an oral history interview.

Michael’s family comes from Bangor and Llandudno. His great-grandfather Morris Wartski was a founder of the Llandudno Hebrew Congregation, a Synagogue in Bangor, and of the Wartski jewellery business.

For more information about the project, contact Klavdija Erzen, JHASW/CHIDC Programme and Project Manager, at [email protected] and 07972 113952.


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Sarah Good
Sarah Good
2 months ago

I remember looking at the Census stats for minorities in Wales and I recall those identifying as Jewish were incredibly low in number (like under 3,000) which I was surprised by. But then not. Given past history, one could understand that they might not want to volunteer such information to governments.

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