Belfast Jewish Community

The Belfast Jewish Community (Irish: Pobal Giúdach Bhéal Feirste, and previously known as Belfast Hebrew Congregation) is the Jewish community in Belfast, Northern Ireland.[1] Its Rabbi is the Rev David Kale.[2] The community follows the Ashkenazi Orthodox ritual. Membership has fluctuated from 78 in 1900, approximately 1500 during World War II, about 375 after World War II, to 350 in 1945, 380 in 1949 and 200 in 1999.[1] The congregation was fewer than 80 people as of January 2015.[3]

Belfast Jewish Community
AffiliationOrthodox Judaism
RiteNusach Ashkenaz
LeadershipRev David Kale (Rabbi)
Year consecrated1964
Location49 Somerton Road, Belfast, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Belfast Jewish Community is located in Northern Ireland
Belfast Jewish Community
Location within Northern Ireland
Geographic coordinates54°37′40″N 5°56′2″W / 54.62778°N 5.93389°W / 54.62778; -5.93389Coordinates: 54°37′40″N 5°56′2″W / 54.62778°N 5.93389°W / 54.62778; -5.93389
Official website


Established in 1870, the congregation's first two "ministers" (rabbis) were Reverend Joseph Chotzner (serving from 1870 to 1880 and 1892 to 1897) and Rev. Jacob Myers.[4] M. A. Jaffe (father of Otto Jaffe), who came to Ireland in 1851, was instrumental in founding the synagogue. Later, the position was filled by Rabbi Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog (1916–1919), who later become Chief Rabbi of Ireland and Israel, and Rabbi Jacob Shachter (translator of Zvi Hirsch Chajes), 1926–1954.

Elizabeth Jane Caulfield, the Countess of Charlemont, regularly attended the synagogue and apparently converted to Judaism there.[5]

Otto Jaffe, Lord Mayor of Belfast, was life-president of the Belfast Hebrew Congregation, which worshipped at the Great Victoria Street synagogue.


Currently located on Somerton Road, the congregation previously had the synagogue[6] building on Annesley Street (1904–1964) and Great Victoria Street (1871–1904). (The foundation stones were dated 7 July 1871 and 26 February 1904.)

Former Synagogue building on Annesley Street, Belfast

The synagogue, designed by Eugene Rosenberg, is unusual in that it is circular, not rectangular. There is no balcony for women, but a raised platform on either side. The roof is held up by concrete-covered beams that forms the shape of a Star of David. The candelabrum and eternal light, together with bronze and silver letters adorning the Ark doors, are by Israeli sculptor, Nehemia Azaz.[7]

The synagogue has a plaque in memory of Jews killed during the Holocaust. Listed in the UK National Inventory of War Memorials, the English part of the inscription reads: "In memory of the martyred millions of European Jewry 1933–1945."[8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Belfast Jewish Community & Hebrew Congregation". JCR-UK. 22 October 2020. Retrieved 30 October 2020.
  2. ^ Frot, Mathilde (8 October 2021). "Belfast threatened by kosher meat shortage". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 8 October 2021.
  3. ^ McKevitt, Greg (27 January 2015). "150 years of Belfast's Jewish community". BBC News. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  4. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia (corrected by descendant)
  5. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia, citing: The Athenaeum, p.733, London, 1882; The Guardian, xxxvii. 801, London; The Jewish Chronicle, 2 June 1882; The Times, 1 June 1882, London.
  6. ^ "Ireland Virtual Jewish History Tour". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved 31 October 2020.
  7. ^ Larmour, Paul (1987). Belfast: an illustrated architectural guide. Friar's Bush Press. p. 98. ISBN 0946872104.
  8. ^ "Belfast Hebrew Congregation Holocaust Memorial". Imperial War Museums. Retrieved 8 October 2021.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit