The exile of the Jewish people has taken them to every corner of the earth. Jews have lived in and built communities in Europe, China, India, Central Asia, Africa, South America, North America, Australia, etc. Today, Jewish Treats presents highlights of the Jews of Ireland:

The first royal recognition of a Jewish presence in Ireland was in 1232, when King Henry III gave Peter de Rivall the office of Treasurer and Chancellor of the Irish Exchequer, the king’s ports and coast, and also “the custody of the King’s Judaism in Ireland.” However, in 1290, all Jews were expelled from the English kingdom, which included Ireland.

By the end of the 15th century “Anousim” (Jews forced to hide their Judaism because of the Spanish Inquisition) began to settle on the Emerald Isle. In 1555, William Annyas, a Jew, was elected mayor of Youghal, County Cork.

One of the most famous Jews of Ireland was Robert Briscoe (1894-1969), who became the Lord Mayor of Dublin in 1956. Active in the IRA and Sinn Féin during the Irish War of Independence, Briscoe was a nationalist who was adamant that being a “Hebrew” did not lessen his Irishness. Since 1993, the New York based Emerald Isle Immigration Center sponsors the annual Briscoe Awards, which honors Jewish leaders for their work in bettering the lives of Irish immigrants to the U.S.
An Irish Jew who became a leader to the Jewish people through his distinguished career in the Israel Defense Force (and previously in the British army) was Chaim Herzog (1918-1997). The sixth president of the State of Israel was born in Belfast and raised in Dublin, where his father, Rabbi Isaac Herzog, who later became the second Chief Rabbi of Israel, was Chief Rabbi of Ireland.

This Treat was last posted on March 17, 2009.

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