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Disgrifiad

These photographs, taken in May 1978 by David Jacobs, depict Jewish-owned shops in the town centre of Merthyr Tydfil.

Picture number one shows the shop front of an Ophthalmic Optician, a business owned by the relatives of Benjamin Hamilton, a local solicitor who as a coroner led the inquest into the Aberfan disaster.

The second photograph shows the empty shop front displaying promotional posters for John Otway. It used to be a furniture shop owned by Harris Schwartz.

Merthyr Tydfil was once home to one of the largest Jewish communities of the South Wales Valleys. The first Jews are believed to have arrived there in the 1820s and the first purpose-built synagogue was erected either in the late 1840s or the early 1850s. The thriving community soon outgrew the premises and a new synagogue opened on Church Street in 1877. From the 1920s to the mid-1930s, the Merthyr Tydfil Hebrew Congregation had up to 400 members, but with rapid changes in the economic conditions and the exodus that followed, the membership dropped to 175 by 1937. Services were held in Merthyr until the late 1970s.

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/merth/index.htm).

Depository: Glamorgan Archives.

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