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Irish Jewish Museum (Dublin)

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Walworth Road, South Circular Road, Dublin 8, Ireland. Tel: 353-1-4901857 or 353-1-4531797.

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      07.02.2002 02:24
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      ~ ~ If you didn’t know it was there, you’d be hard put to spot this small museum dedicated to preserving the history of the Jewish people here in Ireland. It’s located at Walworth Road, a small street of terraced houses just off the main South Circular Road in Dublin, in what used to be the main Jewish area of the city. Two of the small houses have been thrown together, and the only thing that distinguishes them from their neighbours is the small Hebrew plaque on the outside wall, and the fact that the windows are much longer than the other houses on the road. ~ ~ In fact, this used to be one of the main Jewish Synagogues here in Dublin. Seemingly, one of the rules of the Orthodox Jewish religion is that members are obliged to walk to worship on a Saturday, (the Jewish Sabbath) and so when Dublin had a large Jewish minority living in this district, there were a fair number of smallish Synagogues dotted around the area, of which this was the largest. The old Synagogue has been preserved for posterity, although it has not been used for religious services since the mid-1970’s. The whole building then fell into a state of disrepair, until the Museum opened its doors in 1984. It was officially opened by the former President of Israel Dr. Chaim Herzog during an official State visit to Ireland. He was himself Irish born, and his father, Rabbi Herzog, used to live in the area, and was the former First Rabbi of Ireland. (A new First Rabbi was appointed only last week) ~ ~ There has been a Jewish presence here in Ireland for centuries, and the first ever recorded arrival is recorded here in the Museum, in an old document called the “Annals of Innisfallen”. It was here on the south coast that five merchant Jews arrived by sea from Rouen in France in 1079. Incidentally, they were refused entry to the country. (Some things never change!) The Museum traces the history of the Jewish Communi ty through all the various migrations that took place, usually after persecutions in other parts of Europe. Those who are interested in those persecutions can also look up the various newspaper cuttings from around the time of the Second World War, when various (and well known) Irish politicians of the time spouted some totally obnoxious anti-Semitic rants, which I’m sure they would not like to be reminded of today. ~ ~ Another interesting exhibit is a reconstruction of a 1920’s Dublin Jewish kitchen, laid out for “Hanukkah”, (the eight-day Jewish festival of lights held in December, which commemorates the rededication of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem in 165BC after its desecration) with all the different and varied kosher foods represented. At one time it was the actual kitchen of the Museum’s curator. Do try to get talking to the curator and the many volunteers who give freely of their time to maintain this little Museum, as their accents are a delight, and a pleasant mix of true Dublin along with many Jewish intonations. There’s information here on all the Jewish writer’s and artists, as well as the various Jewish schools in the city, and Jewish youth organisations. One of the best known novels of the 20th century, Ulysses by James Joyce, has as its hero a Dublin Jew called Leopold Bloom, and he has his own section here in the Museum. Blooms actual house is situated only five minutes walk away, at 52, Upper Clanbrassil Street. ~ ~ The Museum is only about twenty minutes walk from the city centre, or you can get a bus and ask to be let off at the “Garda Club”, (police) which is just around the corner from Walworth Road. If you’d like to have a closer look at the old synagogue, and some other photographs of the Museum, then here is a good link for you to click on. http://www.cs.tufts.edu/~zblocker/ijm/pics.html Admission is free. ~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~ OPENING HOURS: 1st May to 30th September. Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday 11.00 AM - 3.30 PM. 1st October to 30th April. Sunday only. 10.30AM to 2.30PM. Closed on Jewish holidays. BUSES: 14, 15, 16, 19. (from city centre) TELEPHONE: 01-490-1857 or 01-453-1797 Code from the UK: +353

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