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The history of the Jewish diaspora in Wales

Parry-Jones, Cai (2014) The history of the Jewish diaspora in Wales. PhD thesis, Prifysgol Bangor University.

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Abstract

This thesis examines the history of Jewish communities and individuals in Wales. It is the first study of its kind to offer a comprehensive history of Welsh Jewry, from the foundation of the first Hebrew congregation in Swansea in 1768 to the current position of the principality’s Jewish communities in the early twenty-first century. Unlike previous studies, this thesis examines the history of Welsh Jewry as a geographical whole, and brings the neglected histories of Wales’ smaller Jewish communities, particularly in north Wales, to our attention for the first time. This thesis is also unique because it is the first historical study of Welsh Jewry to draw extensively on oral history, a source which permits us to explore the everyday experiences and histories of ordinary Jews in Wales, as well as the official histories of synagogue functionaries and leaders. The history of Welsh Jewry has long been linked and synonymised with the Tredegar Riots of 1911. This is because Jewish-owned properties were damaged during the week-long riots, which has subsequently led a number of scholars to make wider claims of a long tradition of anti-Semitism in Wales. This argument has since been challenged by others, who have described the incident as ‘exceptional’ to prop up arguments about widespread philo-Semitism in the principality. Nevertheless, with so much attention paid to Tredegar, this brief event in Welsh history has come to erroneously represent the history of Jewish and non-Jewish relations in Wales more generally. This thesis points out that there is more to discover of this relationship, and by examining how non-Jews in the principality reacted to the presence of Jews in a broader context, it seeks to contribute to the ever growing scholarly literature which challenges perceptions of Wales as an inherently tolerant nation. Additionally, this thesis brings our attention to the powerful role played by ‘place’ in shaping the Welsh-Jewish experience and how particular aspects of Jewish life in Wales differed from other parts of the United Kingdom. In so doing, it is hoped that scholars of British-Jewish history, long referred to as ‘Anglo-Jewish’ history, will begin to appreciate the diverse make up of Jewish life in Britain, and understand that Jewish history in Wales was not simply a mirror-image of the Jewish experience in England. It is hoped that the following pages will enlighten the reader, for them to realise that Jewish life existed and continues to exist in Britain beyond Golders Green and Stamford Hill, even beyond Manchester and Leeds. It existed and continues to exist in early twenty-first-century Wales in such outposts of British Jewry as Bangor, Cardiff, Llandudno, Newport, and rural, isolated villages and towns such as Carmarthen and Welshpool. This thesis serves as a contribution to the field of both British Jewry and Welsh social and religious history, and hopes to inspire future research into this under examined, yet important, field.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: Degree Thesis
Departments: College of Arts and Humanities > School of Creative Studies and Media
Degree Thesis
Date Deposited: 20 Aug 2015 07:59
Last Modified: 30 Mar 2016 13:15
URI: http://e.bangor.ac.uk/id/eprint/4987
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