Oral History collection: Myer Joseph (born in Poland, member of the Swansea Hebrew Congregation) interviewed by an unidentified interviewer about immigrating to Swansea from Russia in the 1900s; Jewish life in Swansea

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 216 T 34/1
  • Dates of Creation
      Late 20th cent
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      1 DVD; also sound track extracted as audio file in MP3 format.

Scope and Content

[00:00:14] Discrimination: Father was a Russian Army Reservist, the family left Russia for Swansea to avoid Pogroms. [00:11:20] Education: Jews highly valued education as a way of improving life for ones children. [00:11:50] Craftsmanship: Many Jewish immigrants were highly skilled craftsmen especially tailors, shoemakers and carpenters etc. [00:13:02] Business: Jewish families dominated the Swansea tailor industry. All of the non Jewish tailors were either of Polish or Lithuanians decent. [00:14:14] Trade: Had an apprenticeship with a cousin in London during the Great War where he spent 9 months learning to be a cutter. [00:15:48] War: Demobilised soldiers from the First World War could either receive 30 shillings or a suit. [00:16:15] Immigration: Many immigrants who had not yet been naturalised had to carry identity cards and report to police stations as foreign aliens. [00:17:59] Business: Became most expensive tailor in Swansea by the 1920s charging £5 5d (£1000 in today's money) per suit. Jews worked hard in order to prosper. [00:19:30] Racism: Anti Semitism was present however it was very low compared to other areas of the UK notably London. [00:22:14] Politics: Strong Zionist movement in Swansea among Jewish Communities, even among secular Jews. [00:25:55] Community: Jewish Community largely integrated into British Society largely due to education and contact with non Jewish people. [00:02:13] Religion: There were two synagogues in Swansea, one for native 'English' Jews and one for foreign Jews. [00:30:40] Culture: Many Jews didn't keep to Kosher laws. [00:33:15] Welsh Society: Centre of Swansea very anglicised but strong Welsh population immediately outside especially in areas such as Cwmbwrla, Hafod, Landore and Manselton. [00:35:15] Racism: Little anti-Semitism from Welsh populace. [00:36:15] Integration: Believes Jewish community will eventually completely integrate into Welsh Society as Jewish community gets sparser. [00:40:15] Language: Yiddish was the family language although gradually lost ground as the community language though still had a great influence. [00:43:20] Welsh: Some Jews learned Welsh especially those in the areas outside Swansea and up the valleys. [00:44:18] Religion: Jews observed the Sabbath strictly in early days although gradually went more liberal. Many Jews however still try to observe the Sabbath. [00:45:28] Community: Jewish Communities over Wales had strong ties to each other. [00:05:32] Housing: Living conditions of Jewish immigrants. [00:06:56] Jewish Society: As many as 350 Jewish families in Swansea, very close to each other, worked hard to prosper, families were very tight knit. [00:06:56] Religion: Pious Jews would not ride on the Sabbath however some eventually did drive to the synagogue so many lived near to their synagogue at walking distance. Men and women were segregated and they wore praying shawls.