Born in Wales

Adam Buswell (Cardiff 1984)

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My gran was from Poland, and all I know of her past is that she was in a concentration camp during the war, and after the war finished came to Britain and lived in London. I moved to Wales with my mum, dad, brother and sister. Work is what brought us this way, as my dad opened a fish and chip shop in Canton. Growing up, one of the main things about being Jewish I remember was that Friday nights were always family night and we’d all come for dinner, whereas all my friends were always out and playing.

I used to be in the Jewish Lads and Girls Brigade from about age eight up until I was about eighteen, and at one point I ran the Cardiff group. We had camps every year and I made friends from all around the UK. I also went touring to Israel with the group when I was sixteen. One of the strongest memories I have of that trip is a Holocaust memorial of walls with the names of non-Jews that helped Jews get out of concentration camps in Germany. That really touched me, because if it weren’t for people like that, my gran wouldn’t have escaped and I wouldn’t be here; my family wouldn’t be here.

I think I’ve been quite lucky in my Jewish identity that it’s been positive, and to not really have anything bad that has come about because I’m Jewish, just generally a kind of curiosity. When we did Judaism in school I was asked to come up and explain certain things, especially my bar mitzvah. It’s generally been fine and I haven’t personally had any problems being Jewish in Wales. The only thing I find is there aren’t many Jewish people my age around. I’ve got more Jewish friends in London than I have in Cardiff.

I met my partner, Claire, ten years ago. I kind of opened her eyes up to Judaism and she is now converting. I always did the festivals and went to synagogue, and she got more and more interested and started doing bits with me; and the more she does and learns, the more she feels this is how her life should have always been anyway. They’re all lovely in the community and willing to help and support in any way they can. We go to synagogue on a Friday night, and I go to conversion classes with Claire where I learn even more of my history on top of what I knew, so it has definitely brought out my Jewish identity more. All Jews are a part of their history and it’s an identity to an extent. Originally I was brought up into it; nowadays it is who I am more, through Claire helping me become more Jewish.

Judaism is a very sociable religion. We all like to get together and have a good little party. I think we’ll probably host more Friday night dinners at ours and things like that. I do like Cardiff; it’s got everything that you need and I do think we probably will stay. Most of my family are here, and Claire’s family are Welsh, so it’s where we’ll probably stay. If not, then maybe Weymouth, where we want to set up a bed & breakfast. We would bring children up Jewish, but whether you’re born Jewish or not you still need to accept the Torah yourself, so I would hope that if we did have kids they would follow on their traditions and keep Judaism alive.