Jewish historians in Wales have had a £40,000 boost from the National Lottery for a project exploring how Jews helped develop the region.
The money, which will go to the Jewish History Association of South Wales, will be used to record testimonies to collect and preserve oral histories showcasing the 250-year old community. The collection will then tour in 2019.
Swansea’s Jewish burial ground dates from 1768 while the Cardiff community began in the 1840s, with two remaining synagogues – one Orthodox and one Reform.
As mining and industry boomed, so too did the Jewish presence in places like Merthyr Tydfil, Pontypridd, Newport, Brynmawr, Tredegar and Llanelli.
“The important role of the Jewish community in Wales has, until now, been little understood or appreciated,” Richard Bellamy, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Wales, whose grant makes up more than 80 percent of the total needed.
“The project will bring that contribution to life. Thanks to National Lottery players HLF grants enable everyone to share their stories and celebrate the richness of different cultures and traditions.”
Private contributions garnered through crowd-funding have helped raise the rest of the money, with one Jewish care home pitching in, while an anonymous donor said they would match donations up to £5,000.
“Our aim is to record oral testimonies and memories of Jewish life in communities in all areas of south Wales as well as the digitisation of CAJEX magazine, which flourished from 1950 to 1991, in order to make it widely available,” said the Association’s chair David Lermon.
“There will also be a website to signpost all available resources, visual and oral, and an attempt to record all Jewish artefacts in public collections throughout South Wales.”