North Wales' high streets are changing as traditional businesses close down and lie empty or are replaced by other shops. But this change belies a deep and significant history of immigration, the traces of which are being lost behind the boarded-up windows and changing shopfronts.
North Wales has had a rich Jewish history. Jews moved there in large numbers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. They were escaping persecution in Eastern Europe but also wished to better themselves in Britain where there were exciting new economic opportunities.
Jews did much to help shape north Wales' high streets. They provided the entrepreneurial energy, ambition, financial acumen, willingness to take risks and vision essential in building modern businesses. While little of this Jewish entrepreneurialism survives today, their legacy lives on in the number of well-known British businesses and brands that bear their names and while they may no longer be in Jewish hands that Jewish heritage remains.
But unfortunately, as the Jewish community has declined and dissolved, and our high street has been transformed, not many people know of this history. It’s right there in front of our eyes but hidden in plain sight.
Therefore, we seek to preserve this history in guided walks, self-guided map, digital app and travelling exhibition of the Jewish History of north Wales, from Holyhead to Wrexham. Earlier this year, we launched with two walks and a map of Bangor followed by an exhibition funded by Bangor University. We then transferred this material to a free-to-download app called 'Walking Jewish History'.
Now we want to move beyond Bangor to roll out across north Wales. Any donations, big or small, to help us do achieve this work will be gratefully received. Thank you.
- Jeanette R Rosenberg OBE
- Harvey Simons
- Janet Mernane
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