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A sepia toned photograph of the Aberdare Rugby Football Club. The photograph includes the team dressed in their kit, with the captain, I. Davies, sitting in the centre with a football and a trophy, as well as the team trainer, J. Jones, and the club chairman, D. C. Winkley. There are also some other men in the photograph at the back of the photograph that aren’t in football kit. They could possibly be reserves for the team or other members of the club, such as the committee or patrons. The photograph is presented in a cardboard frame which at the top reads ‘Aberdare Thursdays A.F.C., Undated 1908 – 1909, Matches played 23, Won 16, Drawn 7, Goals for 77, Goals against 16.’ At the bottom of the frame is the list of names of those featured in the picture.

The Aberdare Thursday Rugby Football Club played during the early 20th century. The Football Club is first mentioned in The Aberdare Times in 1901 alongside details of their match against Dowlais Thursday Rugby F.C. and their involvement in the Hereford Cup.

Reuben Silverman, a local Jewish man, became heavily involved with the Aberdare Thursdays. He was a sportswriter and cartoonist for the local paper, The Aberdare Leader. In a newspaper clipping he is referred to as, ‘Private R. Silverman, who in his days of peace was a football journalist and cartoonist for the “Leader.”’ Silverman wrote his sports column under the pseudonym ‘Muddied Oaf’ an epithet to describe rugby players and also used in war poetry. In 1908, he was elected an Aberdare Thursday A.F.C club committee member.

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 2019 1581

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