I'm a student researching the Jewish history of Bangor and the area. I've put together a fairly comprehensive picture of the families who owned shops and lived here- obviously with particular emphasis on the Wartski and Pollecoff families whom so many people have memories of- and am now looking for local memories of anything relating to the Jewish community in Bangor and beyond.
If you are from Bangor, and you have memories of these families or their shops in the High Street I would love to hear your recollections. I am also interested in people who remember Bangor as it was in its heyday, or who might have some family lore they'd be willing to share.
I can be contacted here or by email krasejc (at) gmail (dot) com.
Have you met / spoken to Dr Nathan Abrams in Bangor University?
My current research falls into three key areas:
Jews, Jewishness and Judaism in Popular Culture, 1990-present.
This project explores recent and changing representations of Jewishness as ethnicity and religion in contemporary cinema and other forms of popular culture.
European Jewish Diasporas
Research into the Jewish Diasporic communities in Europe with a particular emphasis on Scotland and Wales.
2 other places:
North Wales Jewish Network
And this article/comments from the BBC...
Last updated: 07 November 2008
Nathan Abrams explains the difficulties in trying to maintain his Jewish culture in Bangor and find out about north Wales Jewish history.
I'm from north London originally and came to work in Bangor as a lecturer. I come from quite an orthodox, traditional Jewish family and grew up in a fairly Jewish neighbourhood. We observed all the holidays and the Sabbath, went to Synagogue and Hebrew classes.
Now I can't do all that anymore. My parents might read this so I'll put it this way - I'm not observant of everything Jewish because where I live militates against that, but it is still important to me.
I do miss Kosher food, mostly because it's nice and it's what I grew up eating. They don't sell Kosher couscous in the supermarkets here - and that is the absolute best couscous you can have, whatever your religion!
There is a synagogue in Llandudno, but as the Jewish community in the area has dwindled I'm not quite sure of its actual functioning status. I have been to the synagogue in Liverpool a few times, but I usually go home for important festivals, like Hanukkah, the Passover and the Rosh Hoshanah, the Jewish new year.
While there are isolated Jewish people here, there isn't really a community and I'd like to rectify that. Because being Jewish isn't just about sharing a faith with other people.
You can be Jewish, but not believe in any of the faith side of things. It's more an aspect of my identity, both religious and cultural. I'd like to maintain that, create a community with a shared point of contact.
I'm also doing some research into the Jewish communities in Bangor, Llandudno, Colwyn Bay, Rhyl and Wrexham. Many came here in the late 19th century and opened businesses, like Pollecoffs in Pwllheli and Wartskis in Bangor. If anyone has any information or photos from this time, however seemingly small, please get in touch. It's a bit more than a one-man job!
We're planning to have an exhibition at Oriel Bangor, showing some artefacts from the old Bangor synagogue. We hope to show all of the interior in the future.
Llandudno Hebrew Congregation.
Nathan Abrams, Bangor
Thanks for your messages. I grew up in Muswell Hill. Please contact me directly for further information, at Bangor University.
Thu May 21 15:02:07 2009
Jonathan Goldberg from Los Angeles
I am the youngest son of of the late Queenie Pollecoff, who married Isaac (Mike) Goldberg. My maternal grandparents established Pollecoff's Store. My brother was born in Holyhead. I would be most grateful for any other information you have about my family.
Mon Apr 27 10:20:34 2009
Frank Lippa, Melbourne, Australia
I'm a descendant of the Yamopolskis, a Jewish family of around 15 people - parents, four children and their spouses, and a number of grandchildren - that decided in about 1896 to make their home in Bangor. There is no doubt that this sudden influx of Jews from Glukhov in the Ukraine, swelled the ranks of the Bangor Jewish community, making it more vibrant, and the synagogue more viable. Shevach Yampolski and his three sons (and later, two sons-in-law) became jewellers, watchmakers and general merchants in the town, and two of his daughters (Eva and Basia) married in the Bangor synagogue. Eva's wedding was the first in the shul, and was reported by the Jewish Chronicle to have been the first Jewish wedding in North Wales. Shevach's wife Chae Lea died in Bangor, as did his daughter Basia Mendelssohn (who was nursed by the Bolloten family prior to her death).
I have much information about the family, its time in Bangor, and its interaction with the Wartskis and Bollotens. I have a cache of about 100 letters written by the family during their time in Bangor (from 1896 until 1915). Some of these letters have been written by the Wartskis, or mention the Wartski and Bolloten familes, and have been translated. I have photographs of the Yanpolskis. These letters are all in Yiddish or Russian. Many have not yet been translated; it's hard to find people willing to help.
I'm really interested to learn more about this community. I can't help but think that there will be a lot of information about them in the early records of the shul and community. I may have things of interest and value to contribute. I've no idea how writing this information into a blank field in a webpage on the internet is going to advance either my cause or yours, but I'm doing it anyway, using the classical "cast thy bread upon the waters" approach! So, what happens now?
Web team: We can't pass on your contact details to Nathan Abrams, but we're sure he'd like to hear from you. You can click on the 'Contact Nathan' link above to get in touch.
Wed Feb 25 17:54:59 2009
I am writing a book to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the foundation of Wartski in Bangor and later Llandudno and will be referring to the Jewish community there. Can your refer me to a local historian of Jewish life who might be in a position to help me on this aspect of the book? I am interested in why Jewish people were initially attracted to Llandudno and who were the most significant members of the community and why. Our website [see right] will serve as a useful introduction to the project.
Fri Nov 7 10:17:04 2008
Interesting article. Which neighbourhood did you grow up in, Nathan? Was it Hendon/Golders Green? I was born in London, Cricklewood, and grew up in Hendon. My father was Islamic, mother is German, so she always liked NW London for its 'mittel' Europe ambience. North Wales is certainly different from London, I can relate to how you feel, but Llandudno is a wonderful place. It always reminds of London as it draws people from all cultures as visitors (like Orthodox Jewish families and Muslims families from Manchester). Good luck with the research.
Fri Oct 3 09:24:09 2008
Aileen Jones, Riverdale, New York
I am a former Boltonian now living, along with my African-American husband of 38 years, in a mainly Jewish community. My husband grew up in a Jewish neighbourhood in Brooklyn and attended a renowned, and at the time, mainly Jewish high school, in Manhattan, Stuyvesant H.S. We plan to retire to Llandudno next year and would love to be able to connect with some Jewish people there. We are Catholic, but enjoy being with people of all backgrounds.
Mon Aug 11 09:55:51 2008
Maybe you could do a talk about it at a Civic Society or 'Age UK' local group?
Allot of the people you need to talk to are probably off-line
Age UK, Ty Seiont, Ffordd Santes Helen, Caernarfon, Gwynedd, LL55 2YD
Telephone: 01286 677 711
I remember Israel(?) Pollecoff very well as a child as he was good friends with my Grandparents Joe & Jo Watson.He was a masonic member of St Davids Lodge as was my Grandad.I remember all the old stores in Bangor very well as I grew up there in the 60's.
One thing that stuck with me was Mr Pollecoffs first name being shortened to Issy which I thought was so lovely that I named my 11 year old after him! He's Izaak shortened to Izzy!
This post was updated on .
In reply to this post by Matt
JEWS first settled in Wales in those parts which were under English influence - Conway, Caernarvon, Chepstow and Caerleon, Flint, Rhuddlan, Beaumaris, Newborough, Criccieth, Harlech and Bala - but they were all expelled before 1290.
Six hundred years later, Jews from Eastern Europe began to arrive in Bangor in the second half of the 19th century.
Morris Wartski established his business in Bangor as early as 1865. More Jews began to arrive later. Slater's Directory 1883, for example, lists Joseph Wartski as a jeweller at 72 High Street; Lewis Henry Aronson (jeweller and goldsmith, 272 High Street); David Elias and Son (watch, clockmaker and pawnbroker at 360 High Street).
By 1889-90, Aveline Lazzarus (and mantle) at 1 Princess Terrace and Hannah Elias, owner of the 'Fancy Repository', 39 Holyhead Road, had joined Aronson who was now listed as a tailor and watchmaker.
Five years later, in 1895, Wartski and Bolloten had set up a drapers business at 21 High Street as had watchmaker Morris Wartski.
Bangor Hebrew Congregation was founded in 1894. Three years later it had a Jewish population of 40 which met in a synagogue located in the Arvonia Buildings, High Street.
This was most likely not a purpose-built shul but rather rented rooms. It had 18 seatholders. The president was Aaronson; M. Wartski was the treasurer; and Isidore Wartski, was the secretary.
The community's weekly income was 30 shillings and this enabled it to afford a minister, teacher and shochet: Rev I. Rosenzweig.
At this point, it was the only synagogue along the North Wales coast, the nearest being Wrexham which was founded in 1890.
The Wartskis were probably the most famous Jewish residents in Bangor.
Isidore, a devout Jew whose father had emigrated from Poland, was said to own the largest shop along the High Street which had made him very wealthy.
He was later elected as a councillor going on to become, from 1939-1941, the first Jewish mayor in Wales.
He was instrumental in getting the toll charges on the Telford Bridge dropped. After setting up in Bangor, Morris Wartski moved to Llandudno, where his customers included the Marquess of Anglesey and David Lloyd George was engaged as the firm's lawyer.
Unfortunately, there is no community in Bangor today but there are a few Jews scattered about North Wales. There is even a synagogue but it is currently in storage at the Bangor Art Museum and Gallery.
This post was updated on .
Philip Pollecoff's was one of thousands of Jews who fled eastern Russia following the ant-semitic pogroms of 1881-1884 and 1903-1906 in which several thousand Jews are thought to have been killed. Fleeing deteriorating conditions in Poland and looking for better economic opportunities, many families such as the Pollecoff's came to settle in the UK and US to live and work. Jewish communities in north Wales which included a synagogue, were established in Bangor (1894), Colwyn Bay (1942), Llandudno (1905), Rhyl (1897) and Wrexham (1893). Philip Pollecoff settled in north Wales, where he set up shops in Holyhead, Pwllheli, Blaenau Ffestinog, Bethesda and Bangor. Other items in the museum relating to the Polecoffs' story include a British naturalisation certificate, shop account books and letters as well as items from the Bangor Synagogue which closed in the 1980s. Russian Empire Passport belonging to Philip Pollecoff. Gwynedd Museum & Art Gallery, Bangor
The history of the Jewish diaspora in Wales
1914 at City House
An exhibition, map and app uncovering Bangor’s Jewish history will be launched this month.
Titled ‘A Jewish History of Bangor‘ the exhibition and map celebrate the presence of Jews in Bangor from medieval times to the Second World War (and beyond).
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