18 March 2008

Wales: Jewish history

A North Wales (UK) university lecturer is hoping to find out more about the history of Jewish life in the region, according to this story in the North Wales (UK) Daily Post.

According to Bangor University's director of film studies Dr. Nathan Abrams, “There have been Jews living in Wales for centuries and not just in the established urban centres of south Wales.

“They have been writers, politicians and community activists. And if some have tried to preserve their Jewish identity, many have combined this with a strong commitment to Wales.”

Abrams believes the Welsh Jewish community has a valuable although neglected history and organized a series of events to promote this study, including the Gwynedd Museum's opening on March 18 of a new Jewish life exhibit and the screening of Solomon a Gaenor (1998), detailing a Welsh/Jewish couple in south Wales coalfields during the turbulent years before World War I.

Activities are sponsored by Jewish charity the Clore Duffield Foundation, by Bangor University’s Welsh Institute for Social and Cultural Affairs and the National Institute for Excellence in the Creative Industries, with support from the community and from Gwynedd Museum.

According to the story, participants will attend from all over the UK, including the grandson of Isidore Wartski, mayor of Bangor and the first Jewish mayor in Wales.

Esther Roberts of Gwynedd Museum helped to organise a six-month exhibition for the event.

According to the Gwynedd municipal site , the "Jewish Life in North Wales" exhibit opens Tuesday, March 18, celebrating the Jewish community's contribution in north Wales in the 19th-20th centuries.

The Jewish community is one such community that have settled in North Wales in recent times. The Wartskis and Pollecoffs reflect the motivations Jewish families had in choosing to live and work in the area, some of the difficulties they encountered and the positive contribution they made to their local community.

By showing some of the artefacts relating to these families and items from the Bangor Synagogue, this exhibition aims to acknowledge and celebrate their lives. This exhibition has been jointly organised by Bangor University and Gwynedd Council with research by John Cowell.

“Gwynedd Museum & Art Gallery, Bangor is proud to be a part of this exhibition which explores an important aspect of our local history,” said museum curator, Esther Roberts.

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