Learn more about the Irish Community in Israel
The origin of the Irish community in Israel is inextricably linked to the Jewish community in Ireland. For many generations there was an Anglo-Jewish community in Ireland. This substantially augmented by the arrival of Jews from Europe beginning in the 1890s. In main, these Jews came from Lithuania, than part of the Russian Pale. They settled in our cities, principally in Dublin, Belfast and Cork, rising to over 5,000 in numbers on the eve of World War II. The Jewish communities in Ireland made remarkable contributions to the life of Ireland in many field from business, law and politics, to culture, academia and the arts. Leading figures from the Briscoe family, for example, played a significant role in the struggle for Irish independence.
Ireland’s Jewish community declined in numbers after WWII. Like many Jewish communities in Britain, they consolidated in major cities in Britain and in the US. Many families made Aliya to Israel from Ireland in the decades after the war. This was Ireland’s loss and Israel’s gain.
The Irish contribution to Israel was felt early. The first Chief Rabbi during the mandate period and later under independence was Yitzhak Herzog, Ireland’s first Chief Rabbi before he made Aliya in 1936. Like the Briscoe’s, the Herzogs were committed Irish nationalists. Herzog’s son Jacob would make a significant contribution to Israeli diplomacy. His other son, Chaim, born in Belfast and raised in Dublin, would fight for Israeli independence and later become its sixth President. His grandson, Isaac, continues to make his contribution to Israeli public life as Member of the Knesset and leader of the Labor Party.
The Irish community here is well established, thanks to those from Ireland who made Aliya. New Irish have also come here, attracted by business opportunities and Israel’s renowned hi-tech sector and start up culture.
Focal points for the Irish community to get together include the Israel Ireland Friendship League, the Israel Ireland Chamber of Commerce, events hosted by the Embassy, cultural events, Irish dancing classes and the social ambiance of a dozen or so Irish pubs located throughout Israel.