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Wednesday 27 August 2014

Ireland's Jewish population now on the rise again

Published 11/04/2006 | 00:11

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Bernard Purcell IRELAND's once declining Jewish population is on the rise.

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Communities are reporting an increasing number of students, young professionals and families attracted to the buoyant economy.

The trend was highlighted as Jewish community representatives criticised the decision not to include an ethnic or religious box for Jews in the census while providing one for Muslims and Presbyterians.

The Representative Council of Ireland's vice president Carl Nelkin told the Jewish Telegraph that he hoped people would spell out their religious affiliation in the box marked "other".

"It's a pity and unhelpful that the Central Statistics Office didn't include a category. We're hoping they'll write Jewish, but we just don't know. Last time the numbers were encouraging, but if there were a specific category it would help," he said.

Members of Dublin's Jewish community have converted an old age home in Dublin 6 into accommodation for 50 students and young professionals.

Jewish Home of Ireland had been home to a declining population of 16 elderly people who have moved to another home.

According to the New York weekly Jewish newspaper Forward, approximately 1,000 Jews live in greater Dublin, 500 in the rest of the Republic of Ireland and 350 in Northern Ireland. Jewish media reports suggest as many as 20 families have joined Dublin's congregations in recent times.

Two of the most famous Jews in history were Irish: the sixth president of Israel, Belfastman Chaim Herzog and James Joyce's literary hero of 'Ulysses', Leopold Bloom.

In 1946, there were just under 4000 Jewish people in Ireland, and a peak of 5,500 after World War Two. The first Jewish settlers to attempt to settle in Ireland, five families, were turned away in 1079 but a second group fleeing the Spanish Inquisition fled here in 1496 and remained.

Portuguese Jews established Ireland's first synagogue opposite Dublin Castle in 1660. Up until 1880 Dublin's Jewish population was 350 but pogroms in Eastern Europe swelled these numbers to 2,000.

Emigration and the creation of Israel took its toll on those numbers until now, when for the first time in decades the figures are rising again.

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