Merthyr Tydfil - South Wales
Marcus Roberts


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In 1955 the declining community re-consecrated the synagogue, and it was in its latter years maintained by a legacy from the Abe Sherman Foundation (1963). However, at the consecrated it was noted that it was a 'small' and 'dwindling' community. It officially ceased with the closure of the synagogue in the 1970s and the synagogue apparently had a number of intermediary unsuitable uses (such as a massage parlour) before it became a Christian Center in 1983.

Some of the community members of note, include the mother of the 'Chariots of Fire' athlete, Harold Abrahams', as Esther Isaacs, who came from Merthyr. The Rev I Raffalovich was Rabbi in Merthyr in 1903-4. He was a Russian Jew, who was a founding Zionist, who would later become the Chief Rabbi of Brazil. He was a pioneer photographer, who visited the Holy Land in the 1890s and photographed what it is regarded as an important record of early Zionist activities, which was prepared for the Third Zionist Congress in Basel. In Rio he was very active in countering the 'White Slave Trade' (trafficking of Jewish women). He was also a host for Albert Einstein when he came to Rio in the 1925 and Einstein said of him he was, '...likable, intelligent and fine Rabbi Raffalovich'. He retired to Jerusalem and died there in 1952.

Ben Hamilton was one of the more high-profile members of the Jewish community. He was a highly respected solicitor in Merthyr Tydfil, Coroner for the town and mid-Glamorgan, who was resident in the 1970s and presided at the inquest for important for the victims of the Aberfan disaster, where some parents of the children loudly stated that their children had not been killed by asphyxia and multiple injuries but, 'Buried alive by the National Coal Board.' It was related to me by a community member, that Ben Hamilton had recounted that as Coroner, he was required to visit the site of the disaster and had to walk through the school room where so many children had perished. He know what horrors awaited and when he was taken into the door to the room, he noted the door on the other side that he was required to exit through, fixed his gaze on that and passed through as quickly as he could without looking. Mrs Nora Bloom, a local Jewish woman was also very much involved in relief efforts at Aberfan.

The last Jew living in Merthyr, George Black, died in Manchester around 1998.

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