History of the Jews in Northern Ireland


History of the Jews in Northern Ireland

The Jews of Northern Ireland have lived primarily in Belfast, where the Belfast Hebrew Congregation was established in 1870. [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=568&letter=B&search=hebrew%20national%20school Belfast] article, Jewish Encyclopedia, 1901-1906.] In addition, former communities were located in Derry and Lurgan. [http://www.jewishgen.org/jcr-uk/Community/belfast.htm Belfast Jewish Community] on the [http://www.jewishgen.org/ JewishGen website] ]

History

Jews reportedly lived in Northern Ireland in the 17th century, and a few records note a Jewish presence during the 18th and early 19th century. The Jewish population in the 19th century increased from 52 in the 1861 census, to 78 in 1881, to 273 in 1891.

The first minister of the congregation was Reverend Joseph Chotzner, who served at the synagogue which was located at Great Victoria Street from 1870-1880 and 1892-1897. Among later spiritual leaders at the synagogue may be counted Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog (1916-1919), who later become Chief Rabbi of Israel. His son Chaim Herzog, who became the 6th President of Israel, was born in Belfast. Due to an influx of Russian Jews near the turn of the century, the Jewish community set up "a board of guardians (1893), a Hebrew ladies' foreign benevolent society (1896), and a Hebrew national school" (1898)." For a short time, there was a second Jewish synagogue, the Regent Street Congregation. [http://www.jewishgen.org/jcr-uk/Community/Belfast1/index.htm Belfast's Regent St. Congregation] from the JewishGen website]

Otto Jaffe, Lord Mayor of Belfast, was life-president of the Belfast Hebrew Congregation and he helped build the city's second synagogue in 1904, paying most of the £4,000 cost. This synagogue was located at Annesley Street, off Carlisle Circus in the north of the city where most Jews lived. [EJ etc.]

During World War II, a number of Jewish children escaping from the Nazis, via the Kindertransport, reached and were housed in Millisle. The Millisle Refugee Farm (Magill’s farm, on the Woburn Road) and was founded by teenage pioneers from the Bachad movement. It took refugees from May 1938 until its closure in 1948.cite web |last=Lynagh |first=Catherine |title=Kindertransport to Millisle |work= |publisher=Culture Northern Ireland |date=2005-11-25 |url=http://www.culturenorthernireland.org/article.aspx?co=14&ca=0&to=0&sca=0&articleID=1673&navID=0 |accessdate=2007-10-05 ]

In 1901, the Jewish population was reported to be 763 people. In 1929, records show that 519 Jews had emigrated from Northern Ireland to the U.S. [Linfield, H.S. "Statistics of Jews -- 1929" in "American Jewish Yearbook" [http://www.ajcarchives.org/AJC_DATA/Files/1930_1931_7_Statistics.pdf] ] In 1967, the population was estimated at 1,350. [EJ]

Well known Belfast Jews include actors Harold Goldblatt and Harry Towb, pioneer of modern dance in Northern Ireland Helen Lewis and jazz commentator Solly Lipschitz.

Bibliography

* Aubrey Newman. Belfast from "Provincial Jewry in Victorian Britain" Conference papers, University College, London. Jewish Historical Society of Great Britain. Documents prepared July 6, 1975. [http://www.jewishgen.org/jcr-uk/Community/Belfast/Belfasth.htm Belfast Hebrew Congregation] hosted on the JewishGen.org website.]
* Funke, Phyllis Ellen. "The Jewish Traveller: Belfast." "Hadassah Magazine", November 2003.
* Nelson, James and Norman Richardson "Local People Global Faiths: Sikhs, Jews and Hindus in Northern Ireland". Newtownards: Colourpoint Books, 2005.
* Warm, David D. "The Jews of Northern Ireland" in P. Hainsworth, ed., "Divided Society: Ethnic Minorities and Racism in Northern Ireland". London: Pluto Press, 1998. ISBN 0-7171-3634-5

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