The trip to the Synagogue in Dublin was very informative and interesting. After learning a great deal about the Jewish faith in lectures this trip gave me an opportunity to find out about Jewish people in Ireland.
From reading one of the signs on the wall I discovered that the building itself was home to Rachel and Samuel Brown form 1922 to 1931. They were emigrants from Czarist Russia. They met in Europe and by the end of world war one had eventually settled in Dublin. Samuel Brown was also a garment manufacturer.
The main focus of the talk given to us in the Synagogue was based around Jewish origins in Ireland. To my surprise there seems to be numerous accounts and historical evidence to suggest that there was and still is a great deal of Jewish people situated in Ireland. One point I found extremely interesting was that as far back as 1079 Jews were arriving in Ireland. Also, evidence has been found that dates back before biblical times to suggest that some tribes got lost and landed off the west coast of Ireland. Anthropologists were digging on the Arainn Islands where they found skulls, which upon further research were found to match skulls found in Israel and Lebanon.
One point that was made very clear to us during our visit was that Jewish people were not victims of persecution in Ireland. A Jewish man from Portugal even became a Mayor in Ireland. One interesting fact about him was that he was forced into Christianity but then confessed to being a Jew. The lady who gave us the talk, her father in law was also the first Jewish mayor of Dublin in 1957. His son also became mayor of Dublin after his death. One point she made was that these mayors were not elected by only Jews, which, she said proves that “there is religious tolerance and very little anti Semitism in Ireland“. This remark I believe reflects on the history of the Jewish people throughout the world. They are a people who have suffered persecution throughout history. Her remarks about religious tolerance highlight to me just how important the aspect of being accepted in society without prejudice is to the Jewish community.
One interesting legend she told us about was about a young Jewish princess who married an Irish King. One day a year she would disappear up a mountain to fast for about 24 hours. This was known as Yom Kippur in the Jewish faith. Right to this day this mountain is called Mount Kippur.
Overall, the visit to the Synagogue was very engaging and interesting. The main points made during our talk that stood out to me where how Judaism arrived in Ireland many years ago and how it has survived and grown in this small country without any persecution or prejudice. This would make a very enjoyable and educational day trip for any RE class.