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Disgrifiad

These two photographs portray members of the Swansea Beth Hamedrash who had immigrated into Wales in the 1890s. Initially founded as a supplement to the anglicised Swansea Hebrew Congregation, the Yiddish-speaking Beth Hamedrash soon developed its own practices and even built its own synagogue on the Prince of Wales Road in Greenhill. The two congregations continued to collaborate and as the members of the Beth Hamedrash became more affluent, an increasing amount of them joined the Swansea Hebrew Congregation. In the 1950s, the Beth Hamedrash was incorporated into the Swansea Hebrew Congregation and the Prince of Wales Road synagogue closed. The decaying building was sold in 1961.

The Swansea Jewish Community is the oldest modern Jewish community in Wales with records going back to the 1740s. The first formal mention of a congregation dates in 1768 when a small Jewish cemetery was established on Town Hill. After worshipping at several temporary locations, a purpose-built synagogue was erected for the Swansea Hebrew Congregation in 1818. It was replaced by a bigger synagogue on Goat Street in 1859. In 1906, a group of recently arrived Yiddish-speaking immigrants set up a more orthodox congregation as supplementary to the main synagogue. This community, the Swansea Beth Hemedrash, developed independently while maintaining close ties to the Swansea Hebrew Congregation. In 1941, the Goat Street synagogue was destroyed in a German air raid and the congregation continued to worship in temporary premises at Cornhill House on Christian Street. A new synagogue was finally built in 1955 on Ffynone Street. Around the same time, the Swansea Beth Hemedrash was incorporated into the Swansea Hebrew Congregation. The Ffynone Street synagogue was sold in 2009 but the congregation continues to rent a hall in the building for worship.

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/swansea.htm).

Depository: West Glamorgan Archives.

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