Tuesday 11 December 2018

Documentary tells of Michael Collins's Jewish gun-runner

Nicola Tallant

A SPECIAL film about the Jewish community in Ireland is to be screened to mark the occasion of the Jewish New Year.

'Shalom Ireland', which traces the history of Jews in Ireland, will be premiered on RTE in honour of next week's Rosh Hashanah.

The film has been a big hit at film festivals, with over 70 screenings in cities including Sydney, Jerusalem, Warsaw and New York.

It features politician Ben Briscoe revealing how his father Robert ran guns for Michael Collins and became the first ever Jewish Lord Mayor of Dublin in 1956.

He reveals how his parents used to hide secret documents in their children's nappies when they worked for the nationalist movement, before Home Rule.

He vows the declining numbers of Jews will not spell an end for the community here. "I personally think there will be a renaissance in Ireland. I don't think the community will disappear, not for one minute," he declares. The documentary, made by US filmmaker Valerie Lapin-Ganley, shows how Ireland's Jews arrived in the 19th century, mainly from Latvia. Many were amazed at how similar the treatment of Irish peasants was to their own, and took up arms against Britain.

Ms Lapin-Ganley said she made the film after finding out her great-grandparents were the first Jewish couple married in Waterford.

She said the Irish and the Jews had much in common historically, including religious persecution and far-reaching events such as the Famine and the Holocaust. The film will be screened this Sunday, September 12 at 10pm.

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