The Jewish History Association of South Wales is appealing for families to share memories as it endeavours to trace the story of the community over the past 250 years.
The association needs to raise £30,000 to continue its initial work and retain the services of an experienced project manager. Funding has been received from a number of Welsh-Jewish organisations and one well-wisher has offered to match future donations up to £5,000.
Association chair David Lermon said it was eager to promote the heritage of the community.
“Our aim is to record oral testimonies and memories of Jewish life in communities in all areas of South Wales, as well as the digitisation of Cajex magazine, which flourished from 1950 to 1991.
“There will also be a website to signpost all available resources and an attempt to record all Jewish artefacts in public collections throughout South Wales.”
The association was considering an approach for support to the Heritage Lottery Fund and there would be a likely need for specialist volunteers with relevant skills and sufficient time.
A Swansea burial ground dating from 1768 is the earliest physical evidence of Jews in Wales. The Cardiff community was established in the 1840s and although Orthodox and Reform shuls remain, membership is ageing and dwindling.
Other communities were founded in mining and industrial towns — Merthyr (1848), Pontypridd (1867), Newport (1869), Brynmawr (1889), Tredegar (1874) and Llanelli (1902).
The peak of Welsh Jewry was in the 1950s, when the community numbered in excess of 5,000.
In the 2011 Census, 2,064 respondents from Wales identified themselves as Jewish. Mr Lermon believes that figure has since diminished considerably.
The community has produced politicians including Michael Howard and Leo Abse, Booker Prize-winning novelist Bernice Rubens and a Nobel Prize winner in theoretical physicist Brian Josephson. Venture capitalist Sir Michael Moritz was born in Cardiff.
Other members of the association’s committee are Tony Blasebalk, Lisa Gerson, Laurence Kahn, Leonard Mars, John Minkes, Melody Odey and Stanley Soffa.
Anyone with family memories to share should email project manager Klavdija Erzen at email@example.com.