the former

Cork Jewish Community

Cork, Ireland





Selective Press Reports (including Links to Press Reports)
relating to the Cork Jewish Community
1876 - 2016


From Newry Report, reported in the Jewish Chronicle, 28 January 1876

There is a place on the south-east corner of White Street, Cork, now built over, which is said to have been the site of the a cemetery once used by the Jews of Cork. In the last century, there were many Jews in Cork; they were employed as merchants, who exported large quantities of provisions to the West Indian Islands. The following from the letter-book of Messrs. Hare, formerly eminent merchants in Cork, and now in the possession of that indefatigable collector, Mr. Franks, who will help to throw some light on this subject: "John Holmes, junior Belfast, October 12, 1771 - I am favoured with yours of the 7th, and observe your order for the "John". I shall apply to your Jew butcher about the salmon, but am certain he will not give a certificate. Indeed, I am somewhat doubtful if any certificate is necessary. I have shipped a trifle of salmon for a Jews in Jamaica without a certificate and had no complaint'."

Jewish Chronicle, 20 January 1896, page 7 

Letter from Marcus Hartog, Professor of Natural History, Queen’s College, Cork.
Appeals for money for better premises. There are 300 souls, mostly pedlars. Need a synagogue and school building.

Jewish Chronicle, 17 September 1915, page 3 


WANTED a competent Melamed with a fair knowledge of the English language, who shall be able to act as Shochet of fowls and as Bal Koreh; salary 30/- per week. Apply, S. Criger, 2, Great George’s -street, Cork.’

Jewish Chronicle, 24 September 1915, page 21

‘TO THE EDITOR, - From Mr. S. SPIRO, J.P., President, Synagogue Chambers, 10, South Terrace.

 SIR,-An advertisement appears in the current issue of the JEWISH CHRONICLE in the name of the Cork Hebrew Congregation, with an address at 15, Union Quay, Cork, inviting applications for the post of “Melamed and Shochet.” etc.

Permit me to inform your readers generally, and prospective candidates in particular, that the advertisement is entirely unauthorised by the Cork Hebrew Congregation, that we have not moved to No. 15, Union Quay, and there is not the least intention of doing so, and furthermore, that we have already two qualified Chazonim and Shochetim and three Teachers of Hebrew and Religion, which is quite ample for our present requirements. There can be no further appointments in the Cork Congregation unless and until one of the existing offices becomes vacant.

By inserting this explanation in your next issue you will much obliges.

[The advertisement was tender to us as presumably emanating from “The Cork Hebrew Congregation” and we gladly insert the above disclaimer.- EDITOR.]’

Jewish Chronicle, 8 October 1915, page 24.


TO THE EDITOR. - From Mr. S. CRIGER, 2, Great George’s Street, Cork.

SIR,- As one of the founders or re-establishers of the 15, Union Quay, Cork Hebrew Congregation, and as under the advertisement for a Melamed, Shochet, etc., my name is appended, I am compelled to reply to Mr. Spiro’s uncalled-for communication of the 17th ult., (sic) in which he disclaims the advertisement, warns the prospective candidates not to apply, thereby trying to spoil the advertisement and discourage intended applicants.

I am quite ready to believe that had Mr. Spiro written, in plain English, so that you could have discerned his intentions, his letter would not have seen print. Mr. Spiro started by saying that No. 10, South Terrace Congregation did not remove to No. 15, Union Quay. Had he stopped there I would have thought him to be officious, and would have treated his letter with silence. But he went further, and warned the prospective candidates not to apply as there was no vacancy. Therefore I beg to express my strongest indignation and that of the entire congregation at Mr. Spiro’s interference. And I wish to inform the candidates through this medium that there is a vacancy for a Shochet, Mohel, etc., at the Cork Hebrew Congregation, 15, Union Quay, and that the parents of the children must have a competent teacher immediately..

[It would appear that there are two congregations in Cork each calling itself the Cork Hebrew Congregation. Hence the misunderstanding. It is worth adding that the Jewish population of Cork, all told, according to the “Jewish Year Book,” is 400.] - EDITOR.’

Jewish Chronicle, 15 October 1915, page 20.


TO THE EDITOR. - From Mr. S. SPIRO, J.P., President, 9 and 10, South Terrace, Cork. 

SIR, - The letter from Mr. Criger in your issue of the 8th inst. Eminently shows the necessity of defining clearly what constitutes the right of an associated body of men to style themselves a congregation. Let us suppose that five or six dissatisfied members of al old-established London synagogue, say the Bayswater Synagogue, were to form themselves into a Minyan with the aid of a similar number of youths over the Barmitzvah age, to hire a room within fifty yards of the established synagogue, and there to start services without a Chazan and without a Sepher Torah of their own, would they, for all practical purposes, have the right to style themselves the Bayswater Synagogue?

This is what has just happened in Cork with the formation of the so-called “Cork Hebrew Congregation” at 15, Union Quay. That the use of this name is misleading is evident from the fact that even you, Sir, have been made a victim of misunderstandings as indicated by your note stating: “it would appear that there are two congregations in Cork each calling itself the Cork Hebrew Congregation.”

The question, however, is which of the two congregations has the right to style itself the Cork Hebrew Congregation? Is it the original one, which has been in existence for the past thirty-five years, and with which the only other congregation in Cork, that formerly worshipped at No. 2, South Terrace, is now amalgamated, thus comprising all the Jews in Cork: or is it the other, of No. 15, Union Quay, formed a few days before the High Festivals in the manner described above, and for reasons which, unfortunately, are not uncommon in provincial congregations? The fact that none of the supporters of this movement have as yet resigned membership, thus retaining their seats in the Cork Synagogue, clearly shows that they are not very confident of the stability of their enterprise. If Mr. Criger had read my letter carefully he could not have avoided seeing that I did not “start by saying that No. 10, South Terrace, did not remove to 15, Union Quay.” I distinctly stated that “the Cork Hebrew Congregation” did not move to 15, Union Quay, and I repeat again that no vacancy exists in the Cork Synagogue. When Mr. Criger ventures to express his “strongest indignation, and that of the entire congregation, at Mr. Spiro’s interference,” he ought to have made use of the plain English he recommends to me by stating that he was only referring to his particular congregation, as, with the few exceptions thus comprised, the entire community of Cork is in perfect accord with my “interference.”  The prospective Melamed will certainly have a sinecure as far as the children are concerned, seeing that of the three men in the newly-formed body who have children to be taught, one is already sending his to the established Hebrew Classes. But I will not dispute Mr. Criger’s statement that “ the parents of the children must have a competent teacher immediately.” ‘

Jewish Chronicle, late October 1915.


TO THE EDITOR.-From Mr. S. CRIGER, 2, Great Georges Street, Cork. 

SIR,- With reference to Mr. Spiro’s second letter I recognise that he intends to hit our congregation in other vulnerable directions, besides trying to prevent us from obtaining a competent “Hebrew teacher.” He himself admits, in contradiction to his assertion in his former letter, that his congregation has three qualified teachers, including a headmaster (sic). Sir, had our congregation not been so lucky as to secure a reverend gentleman with qualities far surpassing our expectations our, we would have had to complain of your liberality for giving countenance to attacks with a view, deliberately, to deter candidates from coming over (several candidates withdrew their applications), and I may as well mention that your generosity in giving publicity to my last letter saved us, and for this we are exceedingly obliged to you. I aver that our members far exceed in number that which Mr. Spiro so erroneously stated, and that they are, without exception, the respected, wealthy gentlemen, with erudition in Talmudic lore and university education.

  It is very difficult to drive home to you and your numerous readers in the metropolis and in the great provincial cities the true state of affairs of a remote Jewish community like Cork, and no matter how I may refute Mr. Spiro’s mis-statements I am certain that he will make other assertions, which would be based on the flimsiest arguments. To save further unnecessary spilling of ink, and to abuse no longer the privilege you extend to correspondents, I request you grant me space in your esteemed columns to refute Mr. Spiro’s statement. Mr. Spiro employs only an excuse when he innocently complains of our advertising under the name of Cork Hebrew Congregation. For the past thirty years there have been two congregations in Cork, both of which were known by the same title, although they were in the same street and in juxtaposition to one another, and during those years there frequently appeared in your advertising columns similar advertisements to the present one. It is true this Congregation of which ours is in continuation was originally known as “Remnant of Israel,” but that name was seldom if ever used; in fact, very few remember the name. Indeed, the great majority who have resided less than a decade never heard of that name. Mr. Spiro, who was anxious to deprive us of the benefit of the advertisement, brings for than (sic) argument because we had no Chazan, therefore, we were no congregation; hence there was no vacancy. Surely, in common sense, if we had had a Chazan we would not have had to advertise for one. I contradict in toto Mr. Spiro’s assertion that the entire community is in accord with his views, and since we engaged our minister and as a protest against his interference our Congregation has become augmented by a number of members.

[Further correspondence on this very reprehensible inter-communal quarrel, which reflects no credit on either of the parties involved, is not desired. - EDITOR.]

Jewish Chronicle, 29 October 1915, page 11.

‘CORK. At a meeting of the Congregation, 15, Union Quay, held last week Messrs. A.H. Goldfoot, S. M. Creiger, and Mr. Cliffe, were elected President, Treasurer, and Secretary respectively. The Rev. M.D. Herschman was elected Chazan, Shochet and Teacher. The President presented the congregation with a Scroll of the Law.’

Jewish Chronicle, 1 October 1945, page 18.

Cork. Annual meeting of the Hebrew Congregation held at the schoolrooms 9 South Terrace.

Mr S. Spiro JP, presided. Treasurer I. Marcus.

Elected. S. Spiro JP, President. W. Jackson Vice-President

Joe Levin Treasurer

Louis Jackson (10 Marine Terrace) Hon Sec.

Irish Times, 10 January 2004.

" Obituary: Gerald Goldberg - Staunch defender of the Jewish tradition".

Cork News, 13 April 2012.

"Cork's Jewish Links Explored In New Documentary" by Maria Tracey.

Gerald Y Goldberg
Gerald Y Goldberg
Corks' First Jewish Lord Mayor

The son of Cork’s first Jewish Lord Mayor will contribute to an upcoming radio documentary on the life of his father. In one episode of a 10-part documentary by Togher based Irish Christian radio station, Life FM, Gerald Yael Goldberg, who was born in Cork in 1912, will be remembered by his son, David. A lawyer and politician, Goldberg was the son of Lithuanian Jewish refugees, who went on to become the city’s first Jewish Lord Mayor in 1977. He died in 2003.

Producer of the documentary entitled Jewish Community in Ireland, Daithí Mac an Bhiocaire explained that Lithuanian refugees would often arrive ashore in Cork, in the belief that they were in America. “There is a famous story told that when the call came out for ‘Cork’ aboard these ships, those with little English thought they were in New York. Another story, and perhaps unsurprising, is that the ships' captains would also offload passengers in Cork to save money, rather than bringing them to America,” said Mr Mac an Bhiocaire.

The documentary, which starts this Monday, April 16th at 3.30pm, and runs Monday to Friday over the next fortnight, will also include the early history of the Jewish people, the communities existing in Cork, Dublin and Belfast, important Jewish contributors to Irish life and the future of the community in Ireland. Three Holocaust survivors living in Ireland, including Tommy Reichental, a former prisoner at the Bergen Belsen concentration camp during WWII, have also been interviewed for the series. “Tommy often comes to Cork to speak at schools here, so he is well known. We have also talked to Fred Rosehill, who is very active in the Jewish community in Cork so there really are some fascinating stories there,” explained Mr Mac an Bhiocaire. “The main idea is to get rid of prejudice and provide a greater understanding of the Jewish community in Ireland and Cork.”

Irish Examiner, 17 December 2012.

"Jewish festival celebrated" by Eoin English.

A special ceremony of light in the heart of what was once one of Ireland’s largest Jewish communities was beamed live to New Zealand at the weekend.

The ‘Evening Echo’ ceremony in Cork’s Shalom Park began at sunset on Saturday to mark the last night of the Jewish festival of Hanukkah.  Nine park lamps, which symbolise the candelabra used in Hanukkah, were lit at intervals. They remained lighting for several minutes before falling into darkness for another full year of the Jewish calendar. 

Fred Rosehill, the chairman of the trustees of the Cork Hebrew Congregation, says the ceremony is of enormous sentimental and emotional significance for the city’s declining Jewish population. 

"It brings back memories of when we had between 40 and 50 families living in Cork," he said.  "When a light goes out, it symbolises the disappearance of our community from the city of Cork.  "But the re-lighting of the lights every year symbolises the hope that some of our community may return and re-establish a community here." 

Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem in the second century BC.  The festival takes place at a different date every year because it is based on the Jewish calendar.  It is observed by the kindling of one of the lights of a unique candelabrum — a nine-branched Menorah — over each night of the holiday, until all the lights are lit. 

Saturday’s ceremony in Shalom Park was devised by renowned New Zealand artist Maddie Leach and staged for the first time last year.  It was streamed live over the internet to the Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts in Auckland, New Zealand, where it is being featured in an exhibition.  The ceremony was managed by the National Sculpture Factory and Cork City Council, supported by the Cork Hebrew Congregation and Bord Gáis. Special technology is used to manage the lighting sequence to tie in with the Jewish calendar. It is designed to take place every year for the next 50 years. 

A Jewish community established itself in Cork in 1881 in the area now known as Jew Town. But Mr Rosehill said he can count on two hands the number of Jews connected to the city’s synagogue.

Evening Echo, 6 February 2016.

Cork’s 135-Year Jewish History Comes To An End With Synagogue’s Closure.

THE only remaining synagogue in Cork closes today, ending 135 years of Jewish history in the city.

The South Terrace site has been the centre of Jewish worship in the city since 1905, but members say emigration and financial constraints have left them with “no money, no members, and no future”.

At least ten Jewish adult males need to live in the city to sustain a synagogue. Cork has just three.

Fred Rosehill, chairman of the trustees of the Cork Hebrew Congregation, said: “We are down in numbers. We couldn’t support a rabbi, a Hebrew school, a synagogue. “We tried everything. It has come to the stage that there is no money left. If someone gave us money in the morning it wouldn’t matter — we don’t have the members to sustain it.”

Mr Rosehill said Cork’s Jewish community spread all over the world. “Between then and now, young people spread all over the world for social and economic reasons. We are lawyers, doctors and more. They went to make a life. They won’t come back here.” Many of those who emigrated settled in Israel, where Mr Rosehill said there are at least seven Cork families.

The synagogue on South Terrace was consecrated in 1905. Today, it hosts its last ever prayer service, with a rabbi and 14 men travelling from Dublin to ensure there are enough people present. At its height, the Jewish Community in Cork consisted of 65 families with as many as 400 members. They first arrived in 1880 as migrants fleeing persecution in Russia. It is believed they were initially heading to America, but were won over by the warmth and welcome of Cork people.

The artefacts from the synagogue have been temporarily given to Cork Public Museum while members look for a new centre of worship.

Irish Examiner, 8 February 2016.

"Jewish worship in Cork ends as synagogue shuts" by Niall Murray.

Irish Times, 8 February 2016.

" Fall-off in number of Jews forces only Cork synagogue to shut" by Patsy McGarry.

Jewish News, 11 February 2016.

" Chief Rabbi pays tribute to ‘extremely warm and dynamic’ Cork community".

Jewish Chronicle, 12 February 2016,.

The final Cork Hebrew Congregation service at the weekend was an emotional affair for Fred Rosehill, who has chaired the tiny Irish community for most of his 88 years.

Saying goodbye to the South Terrace shul had been “horrible”, he confided. “I had my barmitzvah and my second barmitzvah and my son’s and grandson’s barmitzvahs here. “I feel very sad, very alone and very worried about the future. I want to say my prayers but I have nowhere to say them. “There are very few choices. I either get a train to Dublin, which is three or four hours, and arrange accommodation there, or take a plane to London, where some of my family live, which is a big operation to say minchah. We’re not like Sheffield or Liverpool where you can drive to a shul 20 or 30 miles away.”

Moving was not an option. “I never want to leave Cork. I went to Israel three times last year with the intention of making aliyah, but I’m an old guy who can’t speak Hebrew. By myself, at my age, it’s too late to go.” In its pre-war heyday, the community exceeded 400.

Although the farewell attracted a turnout of 90, recent monthly Friday night services have been attended by just four people. “We needed practising Jews, but when people found out there was no kashrut, no cheder and no rabbi to teach their children here, they didn’t want to come,” Mr Rosehill said.

A friend of Mr Rosehill, Northern Ireland Friends of Israel co-chair Steven Jaffe, said the closure was “a sad day for Irish Jews all over the world. “It was a tiny community with a strong identity which produced some outstanding figures, including prominent United synagogue rabbi Eddie Jackson and the first Jewish mayor of Cork, Gerald Goldberg. “It had a massive impact on the British Jewish community — and on Cork itself. “freddie kept the synagogue going for as long as he could and did tremendous work to ensure that the cemetery will be safeguarded into the future.” The synagogue had also been a valuable resource for teaching schoolchildren about Judaism. “There’s a sense of loss coming from wider Irish society and a lot of the comments from non-Jews saying that it was sad for the city that this aspect of diversity — and a Jewish presence stretching back over a century — has ended.”

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis — a former Irish Chief Rabbi — retains fond memories of Cork. “They say of Ireland that her greatest export is her people and that is certainly true of the Jewish community of Cork who are now spread out all over the world,” he said. “In particular, I recall the tireless efforts of fred Rosehill, who over so many years gave so selflessly of his time to keep the community alive.”

Irish Times, 10 December 2016.

" Obituary: Fred Rosehill - Oldest member of Cork’s Jewish community oversaw closure of city’s synagogue".

JCR-UK Cork Jewish Community & Hebrew Congregation home page

Cork Hebrew Congregation (Union Quay) home page

Page created: 31 January 2004
Latest revision or update: 17 January 2021



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