A Jewish heritage project in Wales makes progress
The UK-based Foundation for Jewish Heritage, one of the Moreshet partners, has successfully secured funding to carry out urgent repairs on the historic Merthyr Tydfil synagogue in Wales, and this includes a 50% grant from Cadw – the Welsh Government’s heritage agency. Merthyr Tydfil synagogue is a stone structure designed in Gothic Revival style, and the oldest purpose-built synagogue still standing in Wales. Today it is considered architecturally one of the most important synagogues in the UK and has been awarded Grade II listed status.
Merthyr Tydfil was once the industrial powerhouse of Wales in the 19th century and its largest town. There has been a Jewish presence in Merthyr since the 1830s and the construction of the synagogue in the 1870s reflected a community that was growing and prospering.
The Jewish community of Merthyr came to an end in 1983 when the synagogue was sold and, since that time, the building was used for various purposes. However, since 2006 it has been lying empty, its condition deteriorating, and the fabric of the building has been seriously compromised with a gaping hole in the roof and broken windows. The seriousness of the threat to the building was recognised when it became formally designated as a Welsh heritage site at risk. The Foundation for Jewish Heritage purchased the building in 2019 in order to save it and create a ‘Welsh Jewish Heritage Centre’ that would present the 250+ year history of the Welsh Jewish community and provide a new cultural venue for Merthyr. The idea has been universally well received, with strong support coming from the Merthyr Tydfil Municipality, local politicians, and the Jewish and heritage communities of Wales.
For further information, please go to the Foundation’s website – https://www.foundationforjewishheritage.com/