Grow­ing up as one of the Cardiff Girls

The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE - FIRST PER­SON CLAIRE CAN­TOR

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

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