Irish Jewish Museum
The Irish Jewish Museum (Irish: Músaem Giúdach na hÉireann) is a small museum located in the once highly Jewish populated area of Portobello, around the South Circular Road, Dublin 8, dedicated to the history of the Irish Jewish community.
The museum was opened in June 1985 by Chaim Herzog who was then president of Israel and was born in Ireland. The museum is in a former Synagogue built in 1917 in two adjoining terraced house on Walworth Road, off the South Circular Road. The surrounding area, known as Portobello, was previously a Jewish area, however, the large scale emigration that affected Ireland in the 1950s had a particularly strong effect on the Jewish population; there was also a migration to the suburbs and Dublin's main synagogue is now in Terenure. The synagogue is preserved, there are also artifacts on display and the museum houses genealogical records.
Contents and displays
The Museum contains a substantial collection of memorabilia relating to the Irish Jewish communities and their various associations and contributions to present day Ireland. The material relates to the last 150 years and is associated with the communities of Belfast, Cork, Derry, Drogheda, Dublin, Limerick and Waterford.
The Museum is divided into several distinct areas. In the entrance area and corridors there is a display of photographs, paintings, certificates and testimonials. The ground floor contains a general display relating to the commercial and social life of the Jewish community. A special feature adjoining the area is the kitchen depicting a typical Sabbath/Festival meal setting in a Jewish home in the late 19th/early 20th century in the neighbourhood.
Upstairs, the original Synagogue, with all its ritual fittings, is on view and also the Harold Smerling gallery containing Jewish religious objects.
Anti-semitic attacks in 2005
In 2005, the museum was sprayed a number of time with anti-Semitic slogans and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, visited the museum to show his sympathy and to express his hope that the attacks were the responsibility of a very small group of people who would soon be brought to justice. In fact, the culprit, an individual, was identified from CCTV images and arrested. In his trial, his lawyers stated that the attacks where a result of his ongoing schizophrenia and he was sentenced to six months probation. Raphael Siev, curator of the museum, said the attacks had caused "great terror" and "great upset" but the trial judge prevented him from continuing, citing the uncertain legal status of victim impact statements in cases of this sort.
- The Museum's official website
- Zeitlin, Marilyn (March 13, 2007, issue of March 16, 2007). "A Slice of Ireland A Museum Struggles To Survive". The Forward. Retrieved 6 November 2012.
- A review of the museum from September 2001 with photographs
- A personal webpage about the Jewish Museum
- The Irish Jewish Museum on visitdublin.com, the official tourist website
- News item about Dermot Ahern's visit
- Irish Times report on the trial of the man responsible for the anti-semitic attacks