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Sir Otto Jaffe

(1846 – 1929)

Sir Otto Jaffe was an Irish industrialist and communal leader. Born in Hamburg, Germany, Otto Jaffe was a descendant of Mordecai b. Abraham Jaffe. He was taken as a child to Belfast, where his father, Daniel Joseph Jaffe (1809–1871), founder of the Belfast Jewish community, established a linen business of considerable size. Otto Jaffe extended the firm, making it one of the chief industrial concerns in Northern Ireland and the largest linen exporter to the continent of Europe. In 1899 and 1904 he was lord mayor of Belfast and in 1901 was high sheriff of the city. He received a knighthood in 1900.

As president of the Belfast Hebrew congregation, Jaffe was instrumental in uniting the Russian immigrants and the German founder families into one community. He built a second synagogue for Belfast in 1904. Like his father before him, Jaffe made numerous benefactions to non-Jewish causes, notably to Belfast's Queen's University, and an elementary school was named after him. However, during World War I he was the object of considerable hostility because of his German origin, and he and his family left Ireland for England in 1916, never to return. His son, ARTHUR JAFFE (1880–1954), was an authority on international law and honorary secretary of the Grotius Society.


Shillman, Short History of the Jews in Ireland (1945), 135f.; Carlebach, in: JHSET, 21 (1968), 261ff.; Aronsfeld, in: YLBI, 7 (1962), 317, 325. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: D. Keogh, Jewsin Twentieth-Century Ireland (1998), 8; L. Hyman, The Jews of Ireland (1972), index.

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.