the former

Brynmawr Jewish Community

Brynmawr, Blaneau Gwent, South Wales




Page created: 2 July 2008
Reformatted: 3 November 2011
Latest revision or update: 16 March 2014

Newspaper Articles on the Opening and Consecration of Synagogue

From the Jewish Chronicle
21 June 1901, page 19
Extracted by Harold Pollins

Opening of the Brynmawr Synagogue

Situated on the summit of the highest hill in South Wales is Brynmawr. To this wind-swept, bleak and cheerless little township, the Chief Rabbi, accompanied by Mr. O.E. D’Avigdor-Goldsmid, travelled yesterday (Thursday), for the purpose of consecrating the new synagogue, which has been there erected. On their arrival they were received by Messrs. B. Isaacs and A. D. Roskin, the President and Vice-President, and driven to the residence of Mr. I. Isaacs, the Treasurer, who entertained the distinguished visitors during their stay.

About sixteen years ago but two Jewish families had lived here, yet so rapidly have their numbers swelled that at the last solemn Festivals over a hundred adult worshippers assembled in the Old Town Hall, where services were held. The congregation has only been in existence for nine years, and up to the present has worshipped in a room in a private house; here also Religion Classes were held. During his last pastoral tour in the neighbourhood, Dr. Adler urged on the community the necessity of building a building for divine worship more suitable to their needs. A Committee, consisting of Messrs. B. Isaacs, A.D. Roskin, I. Isaacs, and H.H. Roskin, was immediately formed with a view to carrying out this recommendation into effect. It was chiefly owing to the unflagging zeal, the indefatigable labour of Mr. A.D. Roskin that the success of the movement was assured. In all stages of the work he has been the guiding spirit; it was he who approached Mr. W. Weeks in the first instance, and induced that broad-minded gentleman to offer a piece of land in Bailey Street for the site of the proposed synagogue.

He offer was very gratefully accepted, and on this very spot, which is situated in a very quiet locality, a pretty little building has been reared. The walls are of local stone, cemented and blocked with rustic quoins and string-courses. As at present arranged, there is accommodation for eighty-six persons, though the number of seats can be easily augmented. The ladies’ gallery runs along the west wall, and beneath it, and opening  out of the synagogue is the classroom. The ark rests on an oblong platform, carpeted with blue felt and surrounded on three sides by a hand-rail; it is of conventional design, the doors being handsomely painted to resemble dark and light oak. The building is very lofty, the most noticeable feature being the ceiling, which is of polished pitch-pine worked diagonally, the corners fitted with rounded air-shafts, thus ensuring efficient ventilation. The total cost was £800, and there is still a deficiency of about £200. The Architect was Mr. W.S. Williams, who likewise designed the Tredegar Synagogue, and the Contractor, Messrs. Jenkins and Son, Brynmawr.

The synagogue was formally opened by Mr. O.E.D’AVIGDOR-GOLDSMID, J.P., who was presented with a handsome silver gilt key (the gift of Mr. Lyons, of Abergavenny) bearing the following inscription: “Presented by the Building Committee to Osmond E. d’Avigdor-Goldsmid, Esq., on the occasion of his opening of the Brynmawr Synagogue, June 1900(sic)-Tamuz 5601.”

The service was conducted by the Rev. J.B. LEVY (of Newport), assisted by a choir. The order was that usually followed on such occasions. The Sepharim, some of which were lent by the Newport and Tredegar congregations, were borne by the following gentlemen: The Very Rev. the Chief Rabbi; Mr. O.E. d’Avigdor-Goldsmid, the Rev. B.N. Michelson, B.A. (Visiting Minister), and Messrs G. Bloch, A. Bloom, S. Levine, and M. Cohen (Shochetim of Brynmawr, Merthyr, Tredegar and Abertillery respectively).

After the seven circuit’s the Ark was opened by Mr. A.D. Roskin, and the Sepharim were deposited therein by that gentleman and Mr. I. Isaacs. Mincha service having been read the CHIEF RABBI delivered a sermon and prayer.

The list of donations was read by the Hon. Secretary, Mr. H.H. Roskin. The gifts are as follows:

Mrs. I. Brest, carpets; Mr. D. Chill, tablets (inscribed with Prayer for Royal Family in Hebrew and English); M. Demchieck, cork lino for interior; Mr. L. Goldblatt, carpet for stairs; Mrs. Annie Goldfoot, royal blue plush curtains for Ark, embroidered in silver; the Misses Isaacs (in memory of their mother) silver candelabrum; Mr. B. Isaacs, Scroll of the Law; Mrs. I. Isaacs, covers for reading desk and pulpit in royal blue plush with silver embroidering; Messrs. J. Myers and J. Novick, tablet over Ark with Ten Commandments; Mrs. I. Press, curtain for Ark; Mrs. E. Robinson, silver Kiddush cup and Pointer; Miss Ada Roskin, plush mantle for Scrolls; Mrs. H. Roskin, silver Pointer; Mr. H. Roskin, one dozen prayer books; Mr. A. Shane, Clock and Perpetual Lamp; Mr. J. Simons, reading desk.


From the Jewish Chronicle
28 June 1901, page 23
Extracted by Harold Pollins

The Consecration of  Synagogue in Brynmawr

As announced in our issue of last week, the New Synagogue at Brynmawr was consecrated on the 20th by the Chief Rabbi and opened by Mr. Osmond E. d’Avigdor-Goldsmid. Among others present were: Councillors M.J.S. Lyons (Ebbw Vale) and L.S. Abrahamson (Newport); Messrs. B. Jacobs (President of the Cardiff Congregation), S. Jacobs and L. Jacobs (Newport), G. Freedman (Dowlais), L. Bernstein and L.L. Harris (Tredegar), H. Harris and M. Ash. Besides these there was a good sprinkling of Christian gentlemen, among others the Vicars of Nantyglo, Brynmawr and Beaufort and the Ministers of the Wesleyan, Methodist and Welsh Baptist bodies.

The Service was conducted by the Rev. J. B. LEVY (of Newport) and the Sermon was preached by the Chief Rabbi. DR. ADLER in his opening remarks said he remembered coming to Brynmawr not more than two years ago when he felt grieved at the absence of proper accommodation for divine worship. He exhorted them on that occasion to that effect, and was glad to think that the words uttered by him then had met with the response and sympathetic feeling which he desired. The text he had selected to address them on this occasion, “Acknowledge God in all thy ways.” was a phrase which might be fitly described as the Bible in miniature. He proceeded to say there were many strange and erroneous opinions entertained  with regard to religion. Some thought the performance of religious duties appertained merely to the Sabbath, and that the week-days were for business and the practical affairs of life. Others, again, thought that religion was merely concerned with the Synagogue, and that when they had attended there on the Sabbath they had acquitted themselves fully of all the obligations due from the Israelites. Others thought that all that was needed was to go to God’s house  and observe the Day of Atonement. Against all such doctrines and pernicious errors it was the duty of the pulpit to teach and to preach with all the earnestness and power at its command, to emphasise with all vigour against such perilous delusions. In order to remain truly religious man must not shut himself from the world, but must mix with the busy throng and remain proof against its temptations. The sermon concluded with an eloquent appeal for funds, which are urgently needed to clear the building of debt. On this their day of rejoicing let them give out of the fulness(sic) of their hearts to prevent the necessity for raising a mortgage which might prove a burden too great for them to bear.

As a result of the appeal, no less a sum than £35 was raised in the building. And this, together with contributions since received, has reduced the debt to £120.

The religious ceremony over, the company adjourned to the Drill Hall, where a Reception was held. The arrangements were under the superintendence of Miss Isaacs, Miss Freedman and the Misses Roskin.

Mr. O.E. D’AVIGDOR-GOLDSMID presided, and, in giving the “Royal Toast,” which was received with musical honours, alluded to the well known loyalty of our race as evidenced by the fact that a greater number of Jews had gone to the Front than was called for by their proportion to the general public.

The CHAIRMAN gave “The Jewish Clergy,” coupled with the name of Dr. Adler. He said that the community could hardly imagine the amount of work the Chief Rabbi got through daily, nor the great demands made upon him.

In replying, DR. ADLER drew attention to the great similarity that existed between the Principality of Wales and Palestine - the land of our history and our hope. In size they were almost equal: it was a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills thou mayest dig, if not copper, what was more valuable, coal. He had already referred that day to the patriotism which distinguished the Jew and the Welshman alike: and beside their love for their country they were very similar in their attachment to their language, their literature and their music. He was always pleased to come in contact with the members of his clergy, whether in London or amid the bleak Welsh hills.

The Rev. B.N. MICHELSON, B.A. then proposed, Success to the Brynmawr Synagogue, Prosperity to the Brynmawr Congregation. Their efforts had been crowned with success, owing to the unity of purpose which had distinguished them: that same unity and goodwill would surely not be wanting now that there was the greater need for them.

Mr. A.D. ROSKIN (Voce-Chairman of the Building Committee) replied.

 “The Visitors.” was given by Councillor M.J.S. LYONS, and responded to by Mr. B. JACOBS and Councillor L.S. ABRAHAMSON.

 “The Chairman.” was proposed by DR. ADLER. The toast was received with great enthusiasm, and Mr GOLDSMID’S reply brought the proceedings to a conclusion’.

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