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Opening of Exhibition of Jewish Life - With Kosher Reception


Dr Nathan Abrams and Dr Sally Baker from Bangor University’s School of Creative Studies and Media and School of Social Sciences respectively, in collaboration with Esther Roberts of Gwynedd Museum and Art Gallery, have been awarded £19,000 by Beacon for Wales to hold a touring exhibition of Jewish life in North Wales. Through this exhibition, local people have the opportunity to learn about Jewish history in North Wales. Jews have been resident in North Wales for at least the last one hundred and fifty years and have played an important part in its history. For example, Isidore Wartski was mayor of Bangor and the first Jewish mayor in Wales. The exhibition will be held at a combination of university and public venues across North Wales. A series of workshops at the university, local venues and schools will be held. On November 1st at 2-50pm, Sally and Nathan will also be giving a presentation to the staff and students of Coleg Menai Bangor Campus, in particular the religious studies A level class, who are currently studying Judaism.

The exhibition has already toured to Blaenau Ffestiniog and its next stop will be the Shankland Reading Room in the Main Arts Library of Bangor University on College Road. A reception marking its opening will be held on Thursday 14th October from 7-8.30 p.m. Kosher refreshments will be provided, enabling people to learn about the Jewish dietary laws (kashrut) and to sample Jewish food. The exhibition will continue until 30th October, after which it will travel to Pwhelli.

Entry to the exhibition is free of charge and open to all, regardless of religious or cultural background.

The project develops further links between Bangor University and the wider community. Local people will have the opportunity to work with academics, enabling those who have not had previous contact with a university to realise that they are not simply “ivory towers”. Visitors to the exhibition will become aware that history is not something that happens to someone else, nor does it only involve “important” or ”famous” people, but that they are involved in creating history themselves. The collection of oral history interviews will also enable members of the public to take part in recording memories. They will also have an opportunity to learn how to “do” local history.

Sally and Nathan recently presented their flagship public engagement project at the Welsh Assembly Government Senedd in Cardiff.

Nathan and Sally said, “We are delighted to have won this award which will give us an opportunity to not only engage with the public but to present our research to a wider audience. We really hope that it will encourage people to get involved, and to ‘do’ local and oral history for themselves, whether Jewish or otherwise.”

Beacons for Public Engagement are university-based collaborative centres to help support, recognise, reward and build capacity for public engagement work across the UK. There are six Beacons around the UK and one National Co-ordinating Centre. Beacon for Wales said, “We’re delighted to be supporting Nathan and Sally to work with communities in North Wales to open the study of Jewish history to a much wider audience. History is not just about wars and high politics but the experiences and memories of everyday people – it’s great to see Bangor University encouraging local people to take part in writing their own histories, bringing universities and the public closer together.”

Publication date: 6 October 2010