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Exhibition of Bangor’s Jewish history goes to Cardiff

An early image of Bangor's Wartski's shop; part of the exhibition visiting the National Assembly for Wales in Cardiff. An early image of Bangor's Wartski's shop; part of the exhibition visiting the National Assembly for Wales in Cardiff. An exhibition illustrating Bangor’s Jewish history is travelling to Cardiff.

Titled A Jewish History of Bangor, the exhibition celebrates the presence of Jews in Bangor from medieval times to the Second World War (and beyond).

At the invitation of the Deputy Minister and Chief Whip, Jane Hutt, it will be on display from 11th until 18th November in the Pierhead Building, Cardiff Bay, Cardiff. All are welcome and it’s free.

The exhibition was the product of a joint collaboration between project supervisor, Professor Nathan Abrams of the School of Music and Media at Bangor University, and Gareth Roberts of The Menter Fachwen Walk and Discover Project.

Local residents are encouraged to learn more about the history of Bangor’s Jewish community, which dates back to the mid-nineteenth century, and includes the well-known stores, Wartski’s and Pollecoff’s.

“The City of Bangor and surrounding areas have had a rich Jewish history,” said Professor Abrams. “But unfortunately, as the community has declined and dissolved, and our high street has been transformed, not many people know of this history.”

Abrams added, “It’s right there in front of our eyes but hidden in plain sight. And this exhibition helps to record this history.”

“We hope that people will come and tell us their stories before they are forgotten.”

Jews moved to Bangor in larger numbers in the late nineteenth century. They were escaping persecution in Eastern Europe but also wished to better themselves in Britain.

Bangor provided exciting new economic opportunities. As the community grew, there was a synagogue and even a kosher butcher.

Jews fleeing the Nazis settled in Bangor or were evacuated to the city during World War II.

Jews integrated very well into the local community, even learning Welsh and participating in local Eisteddfodau.

Some of them, like Isidore Wartski, had a transformative effect on the city, helping to build new housing projects and dropping the tolls on the Menai Bridge.

“The exhibition was funded by the Bangor University Economic and Social Research Council Impact Acceleration Account to which we are very grateful. It has helped to transform my long-standing interest and research into the Jewish history of Bangor into these tangible items.”

“There has been so much focus on south Wales and Cardiff audience, that it’s important to redress the balance by revealing more about Jewish communities in north Wales.

Ideally, we would like to join all these histories together into a pan-Wales exhibition, covering all the Jewish communities north and south, but we are in need of more funding. Please do come forward if interested,”

Publication date: 6 November 2019