Dublin is the capital of the Republic of Ireland. A small Jewish group apparently lived there in the Middle Ages since the Exchequer of the Jews at Westminster had an Irish branch. In the middle of the 17th century, some Spanish and Portuguese Marranos settled in the city, including Francisco and Manuel Lopes Pereira and Jacome Faro. According to tradition, a synagogue was founded in Crane Lane around 1660.
Military operations in Ireland after the revolution of 1689 attracted a few more Sephardi Jews, and the community knew a short period of relative prosperity. In 1718 a cemetery was purchased with the assistance of the London Sephardi community, which advanced the Dublin congregation money to meet its debts and lent it some scrolls of the Law.
During the 18th century, the original Sephardi element died out and was replaced by Ashkenazi immigrants. By 1791 the congregation had fallen into complete decay, and the borrowed scrolls were returned. The community was revived in 1882 by East European immigrants. It increased considerably with the Russo-Jewish immigration at the close of the century. Many of the Jews of that time engaged in peddling, small business, and small financial transactions (moneylending and pawnbroking).In the course of time, the Jews moved into shopkeeping, manufacturing, and the professions. There has been considerable emigration over the years, especially among the younger generation. In 1968, the Jewish population numbered approximately 3,600 and maintained seven synagogues (including one Progressive) with the usual congregational institutions.
The Machzikei Hadass synagogue closed in 2002 because of declining membership. Between 1999 and 2004, the Terenure Hebrew Congregation and Adelaide Road Synagogue merged to form the Dublin Hebrew Congregation. Now the only synagogue in Dublin, it was built in 1953 and damaged by arson in 1966. It reopened two years later. It was put up for sale in 2023 as the community decided it was time to move to a smaller building.
The Irish Jewish Museum in the city occupies a former synagogue on Walworth Road. It holds exhibits on Jewish culture, heritage, life, and religion, in both Ireland and the world at large, in addition to material related to the Holocaust.
James Joyce’s Ulysses depicts certain elements of Jewish life in Dublin at the beginning of the century. Paradoxically, many literary visitors to today’s Dublin come to see the route taken on “Bloomsday” by James Joyce’s Leopold Bloom.
Isaac Herzog, later chief rabbi of Israel, was chief rabbi of Dublin 1919–36. Immanuel Jakobovits was chief rabbi from 1949, and Isaac Cohen from 1959. Robert Briscoe was lord mayor from 1956–57 and from 1961–62, and his son in the 1980s.
In the mid-1990s, the Jewish population numbered approximately 1,300. Today, some 2,700 Jews live in Ireland, and almost two-thirds are in Dublin.
Hebrew education is overseen by the Dublin Talmud Torah, which offers cheder, (afternoon Hebrew classes) for Jewish children.
Members of the Dublin City Council elected to fly the Palestinian flag outside of Dublin City Hall for one month in May 2017 following a heated debate. The decision to fly the flag in solidarity with the Palestinian people was approved after a vote of 42 members in favor out of 63 total. An amendment to the proposal, which would have seen both the Israeli and Palestinian flags flown outside Dublin City Hall, was defeated, with 43 members of the City Council voting against it.
In 2023, a kosher restaurant, 613 Deli, opened in Dublin.
B. Shillman, Short History of the Jews in Ireland (1945), passim; Shillman and Wolf, in: JHSET, 11 (1924–27), 143–67; Huehner, ibid., 5 (1902–05), 224–42; C. Roth, Rise of Provincial Jewry (1950), 56f; L. Hyman, Jews of Ireland (1972). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: D. Keogh, Jews in Twentieth Century Ireland (1998); R. Rivlin, Shalom Ireland: A Social History of the Jews in Modern Ireland (2003);
Dublin City Council agrees to fly Palestinian flag over City Hall, DublinLive.ie, (May 9, 2017);
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.
“Jewish Population in Ireland Rises by 30%, Much to Surprise of Local Community,” Haaretz, (October 14, 2017).
Avi Kumar, “Ireland’s Jewish community is declining,” JNS, (February 15, 2023).