Friday 20 April 2018

Converting Jews

Sir -- Frank Duff's proselytising ways towards Irish Protestants have been highlighted in contributions to this newspaper. But he was equally driven to win converts among Ireland's Jews. His main venture in this regard was the formation, under the Legion of Mary's auspices, of the Pillar of Fire society in the autumn of 1942. This is presented by Finola Kennedy as an enlightened effort at promoting understanding and harmony between Irish Catholics and Jews at a time when there was a growing hostility to the latter, particularly in Dublin.

Indeed, its co-founder, Leon O Broin, sought to enlist Jewish support by presenting the society as an attempt to counter the evident increase in anti-Semitic feeling: "I feel. . . that nothing but pain and hardship lie in store for the Jews in this country," he wrote to a Jewish colleague, Larry Elyan, "if the present lack of understanding between Jews and the majority of the people of Ireland continues."

Unsurprisingly, Elyan came on board, stating that they would be "doing God's work in promoting a better understanding between our co-religionists".

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