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A black and white photograph, date unknown, of Cardiff Street, Aberdare. The photograph focuses on the exterior of 14 Cardiff Street, Morris Jacobs and Sons. The front of the shop is decorated with the text ‘Drapers, Costumiers, Milliners’ and ‘Gents & Boys’ and ‘Boots & Shoes’. The side wall of the building is decorated with the text ‘Estd. 1874 Morris Jacobs & Sons, Clothiers, Drapers, Boot and Shoe Dealers, Noted for Working Clothes.

Morris Jacobs was born in Russia in 1855 and already a naturalised British citizen by the time his first business was opened in Mountain Ash in 1874. By 1884 he had opened a second shop in Aberdare. Morris became well known throughout the area for being a pawnbroker, outfitter and jeweller. At first, the shop in Aberdare operated as a pawnbroker’s, but eventually shifted focus and became a draper’s, offering working men’s clothes such as Wrangler jeans and workwear for coal miners, and later, boys' and girls' school wear and sportswear. Jacobs and Sons Ltd was still trading into the 1980s, as their advertisements were still being published in The Aberdarian in 1983. However, there are photographs from the late 1980s that show the shop boarded up and displaying a FOR SALE sign. It was the last and longest serving Jewish shop in Aberdare.

Morris Jacobs was a significant figure in the Jewish Community of Aberdare. From 1889, when the first synagogue in Aberdare was established, Mr Jacobs was confirmed as the congregation secretary. He was also elected as the President of the synagogue congregation from 1892 until 1905. Morris died in 1925, aged 72.

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 1997 2350

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