Growing up as one of the Cardiff Girls
ICAN BLUFF my way through the Welsh national anthem, count to 10 in Welsh, quote Dylan Thomas, and have a rudimentary understanding of the rules of rugby. I can also sing Adon Olam to the tune of “There’ll be a welcome in the hillside”, and it’s a tough call to know who to support in a Wales v Israel football match.
Being Welsh and Jewish is to be doubly different. A tiny minority in a hilly corner of the UK. “I didn’t know there were any Welsh Jews,” is something I’ve heard from Jews and non-Jews alike. Yet, wherever I go in the world, I meet people like me, both Welsh and Jewish.
Growing up in Cardiff in the 1980s, I had Jewish and non-Jewish friends. I didn’t feel socially deprived until I went off to Jewish summer camp and realised I was living a simple, often boring, provincial life. My girlfriends and I were fondly named “The Cardiff Girls” and it was actually quite cool to be different among the crowds from London and Manchester. But as the homeward-bound coach rolled down the M4, I would have ‘The Cardiff Girls’. From Left: Gill Hyatt, Jo Celnik, Al Fine, Claire Cantor a sinking feeling as it crossed the Severn Bridge, knowing that my connection to the outside Jewish world was severed until the next camp or reunion.
Today, there are small communities in Cardiff, Swansea and Newport. However, Jews have been present in Wales since medieval times. Communities were established during the 18th century as Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe disembarked in Swansea