Llanelli Synagogue

Carmarthenshire, South Wales



Page created: 22 August 2005
Latest revision or update: 27 October 2016

Llanelli Synagogue, built in typical Welsh chapel style.
(courtesy "How the Greeners Came to the Valley"
by Michael Wallach. Jewish Chronicle)

Town of Llanelli

Llanelli is a town in South Wales with a population of about 50,000, situated on the on the northern coast of the Burry Inlet, near the entrance to the Bristol Channel, about 13 miles east of Swansea. 

Until 1974, Llanelli formed the municipal borough of Llanelli in the county of Carmarthenshire. From 1974 until 1996, it was part of the district of Llanelli in the newly-formed county of Dyfed. In 1996,  Llanelli was merged with neighbouring authorities to form the reconstituted county of Carmarthenshire, a unitary authority (within the ceremonial, or preserved, county of Dyfed).

The spelling of this town's name, for much of its history, was officially Llanelly. It is now Llanelli, having been changed in  the mid-1960s.

Llanelli Jewish Community

The Llanelli Jewish community is the most westernly Jewish community in South Wales and its origins appear to date back to the 1880s when Jews first began to settle in the town (see Into the Vortex by G. Alderman), although it was not until 1902 that services were held, for the high holy day. The synagogue (as detailed below) was built in 1909 and, for a time, there was a rival congregation, formed in 1915.

The Jews of Llanelli were generally considered to among the most religious in the provinces and high proportion of its sons became rabbis and ministers of other congregations throughout Britain. For this reason, Llanelli was referred to as the "Gateshead of Wales".

Llanelli was the town in which Michael Howard (now Baron Howard of Lympne), leader of Conservative Party from November 2003 to December 2005, grew up and went to school, his family having moved there from his birth town of Gorseinon (now part of Swansea).  Born Michael Hecht on 7 July 1941, the son of Rumanian Jewish immigrants, Michael Howard was the first Jew to lead one of the principal British political parties. (Benjamin Disraeli, leader of the Conservative (Tory) Party in the nineteenth century, had been baptized at birth, and when Herbert (later Lord) Samuel was leader of the Liberal Party from 1931 to 1935, it had already ceased to be one of the two major parties.)


Congregation Data


Llanelli Synagogue
also known as the Llanelli Hebrew Congregation)

Former Name:

Llanelly Synagogue
also known as the Llanelly Hebrew Congregation


Queen Victoria Street, Llanelli, SA15., since 1909

The foundation stone of the building, on the corner with Era Road, was laid in July 1908 and the synagogue opened and dedicated the Chief Rabbi Dr. Adler in May 1909
The building was derelict but is now used by the Llanelli Free Evangelical Church, following restoration.

Previous Addresses:

Services had initially in Murray Street in member's home. Thereafter moved to Castle Buildings until 1909.

Date Formed:

Community founded in 1902, when services first held for the High Holy Days. Thereafter regualr services.


Closed and synagogue sold 1984 (congregation became part of the Swansea Hebrew Congregation). The sifrei torah were given to Cambridge Traditional Jewish Congregation.


Ashkenazi Orthodox

Membership Data:

1937 - 31 members (The Jewish Year Book 1938)

Rival Congregation:

In December 1915, a rival congregation, known as the Llanelly New Hebrew Congregation was form and lasted several years, but was unable to obtain formal recognistion from the Chief Rabbi.


Llanelli did not have a Jewish cemetery. Burials generally took place in Swansea, the nearest Jewish cemetery.


On-line Articles and Other Material
relating to the Llanelli Jewish Community



Llanelli Jewish Population Data



(The Jewish Chronicle 25 February 1905)



(The Jewish Chronicle 20 May 1909)


25 familes

(The Jewish Chronicle 12 September 1913)



(The Jewish Year Book 1915 and Jewish Chronicle 3 December 1915)



(The Jewish Year Book 1935 )



(The Jewish Year Book 1991)


Former Jewish Communities in the county of Carmenthenshire

Jewish Congregations in Wales, listed according to former counties

Jewish Congregations in Wales, listed according to current unitary authorities

Jewish Communities and Congregations in Wales home page



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