Cardiff launches its 'last opportunity' promotion


Leaders of Cardiff synagogues, youth and welfare bodies have united in an attempt to arrest the community's decline.

Total membership of the city's synagogues has fallen from a peak of 4,000 in the 1960s and 70s to around 500, fairly evenly split between Orthodox and Reform. Worried about long-term viability, the honorary Israel consul in Wales, Philip Kaye, brought together local leaders to discuss a plan of action.

The first step will be the creation of a website offering information on the breadth of local Jewish resources, which also include a JLGB group, mikveh, Israel information centre and fortnightly kosher meat deliveries. Other ideas include a booklet highlighting the advantages of Cardiff life. But funding will need to be found for the promotional campaign.

"This is the last opportunity," Mr Kaye said. "There is no new generation coming forward to have the conversation."

Cardiff topped the poll in a recent "quality of life" survey for low living costs and unemployment levels. Orthodox shul vice-chair Stephen Hamilton said that in general terms it was "a thriving city". Reform synagogue chair Melody Odey pointed out that the two congregations had a history of co-operation. "It is marvellous that we have come together to tackle the decline in the community."

Mr Kaye acknowledged that if the decline continued, the time would come when it would be impossible to maintain two synagogue buildings. "If the Reform community needed to relocate, could it share with the Orthodox?"

Over the past 10 years, the Orthodox synagogue has moved to a smaller location and the Penylan House Jewish home has been incorporated into a non-Jewish residential facility, with an added kosher kitchen.

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