Framing Jewish Histories

Hi, I am Klavdija Erzen and I am the Project Manager for the Jewish History Association of South Wales (JHASW).

JHASW was established in January 2018 to preserve the cultural heritage of the South Wales Jewish communities. It aims to make these materials available in local archives, museums and online and to promote and raise awareness of the Jewish heritage of South Wales. We have been working on two concurrent projects which have explored, preserved and made accessible Jewish cultural heritage in South Wales.

The Records and Testimonies of the South Wales Jews.

The project’s aim was to identify, collect, preserve and make available the historical records and testimonies of the Jewish communities in South Wales; communities which thrived in the Valleys in the latter part of the nineteenth and the early part of the twentieth century. It explored how Jewish communities contributed to the development and growth of South Wales and how Jews adapted to life in Britain in the 20th century.

As part of our efforts to interpret this heritage we interviewed 48 older members of the Jewish community and recorded over 65 hours of oral history. The recordings were deposited with the National Screen and Sound Archive, National Library of Wales.

We also collected and deposited 3,302 historical records, i.e. documents & images, with local archives and created a digital archive on the People’s Collection Wales (PCW) website. We uploaded and catalogued 884 single and multi-page items consisting of 3,018 images.

In addition, we created and delivered 22 talks and a 14-week long touring exhibition, which was displayed in 14 different venues, including The Senedd, St Fagans National Museum of History and local venues in Rhondda Cynon Taff. You may have come along to one of the talks or visited the exhibition.

JHASW Exhibtion at Cynon Valley Museum

Framing Jewish Histories

This project was funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Cardiff University and contributions from our supporters. The aim of this initiative is to continue to preserve and share the Jewish heritage of South Wales with people who have little or no knowledge about the Jewish contribution to the life of Wales. Importantly, it is also an opportunity to combat antisemitism and reassess attitudes by sharing and discussing the heritage of the Jewish communities.

The project is composed of four elements:

1. The Jewish heritage of Rhondda Cynon Taff – In collaboration with Cynon Valley Museum, the Rhondda Heritage Park, Welsh Mining Experience and Pontypridd Museum, we intend to identify Jewish-related items in their collections, improve records by adding new interpretations, digitise material, share it online via PCW and encourage new donations.

2. Cardiff Reform Synagogue (CRS) Memorial Tablet – We have been researching the stories of 102 people named on the CRS Memorial Tablet (erected in memory of relatives of synagogue members who were murdered in the Holocaust and whose graves are unknown).

3. Digital Cardiff Jewish heritage trail – To celebrate the heritage of the Cardiff Jewish community, we are creating a digital heritage trail using the free ‘Walking Jewish History’ app.

4. Heritage preservation toolkit – We are developing a heritage preservation toolkit that will enable people with no previous experience of heritage projects to create high-quality digital outputs and make them available to as wide an audience as possible. The toolkit will be a one-stop-shop providing guidance, standards, processes, examples and suggestions for ways in which the digital outputs could be used.

Record Sleeve Sold By Victor Freed

Record Sleeve Sold by Victor Freed ACVMS1998-2670-1-1

We are working with an amazing group of volunteers, without whom we would not be able to deliver any of this: thank you, one and all.

We really want to hear from you if you wish to share memories of the local Jewish community, bring in objects for us to digitise, or even volunteer with us!

You can contact me by email at

If you would like to see what we have been up to so far, you could have a look at our website, follow us on Twitter @jhasw2018 or check out what we have uploaded to the People’s Collection Wales.

Enjoy the exhibition!

Klavdija Erzen.

This project is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Showing 2 comments
  • Norma Procter

    Good morning. I have just come across this project. I wonder if you would be interested in a novel I wrote based specifically on the life of my friend, Ernest Gershenson, whose families, arrived in Tredegar, escaping the programs only to face riots against the Jewish Community there. They came from Kibblitch as did others, there and were thought to be the start of the Jewish Community in Wales.

    The story is full of life experiences. Ernest’s father, like others, was a shopkeeper. His shop was vandalised with others in anti Jewish riots. Ernest himself had many careers, crossing the paths of stars, but ultimately opening fashion shops in Aberdare, Mountain Ash and Bargoed. He was still working at the age on ninety three. We spoke regularly. He wanted me to write his story. Thirty years after his death, I did just that. My book, Jew Boy, a term if discrimination he faced, is available on Amazon. It would be good to hear from you.

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