JCR-UK is a genealogical and historical website covering all Jewish communities and
congregations throughout the British Isles and Gibraltar, both past and present.
NOTE: We are not the official website of this
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which can be reached
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City of Belfast
The city of Belfast (Béal Feirste in Irish and Bilfawst in
Ulster Scots) is the
capital of Northern Ireland and the largest city in the Irish province of Ulster
(which comprises Northern Ireland and three counties of the
Irish Republic). Belfast has a population of 275,000
within the city limits and 550,000 within the Greater Belfast area. The City of
Belfast is one of the eleven local government districts into which Northern
Ireland has been divided since 2015. Belfast was granted city status (and became
a county borough) in 1888. Geographically, it straddles County Antrim and County
Down, two of the six counties of Northern Ireland (which are now purely
traditional counties, no longer with administrative authority).
The interior of Belfast Synagogue
© Michael Black, 2020
Belfast Jewish Community
Although there was
reference to a kosher butcher in Belfast in about the year 1771(i),
the present community dates from about 1864(ii).
There has only ever been a single Jewish congregation in the city except for two short periods at end of nineteenth century and beginning of twentieth century,
when rival congregations existed (see below).
The only other Jewish communities
in Northern Ireland were small communities (no longer extant) in
Belfast Jewish Community from 2004(v)
Belfast Hebrew Congregation and Belfast Synagogue(vi)
49 Somerton Road, Belfast BT15 3LH
- from 1964 (foundation stone laid 3 May 1964, consecrated
25 October 1964)(vii)
The synagogue is a Listed Historic Building (reference number HB26/46/030) designated on
21 August 2015.
on the website of the Northern Ireland Department of Communities.
Annesley Street, Carlisle Circus, Belfast
- from 31 August 1904
(foundation stone laid 26 February 1904) until 1964.(viii)
The former synagogue (converted to a physiotherapy gym of Mater Hospital) is a Listed Historic Building (reference number HB26/43/025) designated on 13 March 2002.
on the website of the Northern Ireland Department of Communities.
Great Victoria Street, Belfast
- from 1872 (foundation stone laid 7 July 1871, built at the expense
of Mr. D. J. Jaffé) until 1904.(ix)
Inkermann Terrace, Belfast
- This was a
small room fitted out as a synagogue, in use from at least 1869.(x)
Services were initially held in private homes from 1864.
However, it was not until 1869 that the congregation was formally
organised, credit for which goes to Daniel Joseph Jaffé
(1809-1874), who also largely funded the construction of the first purpose-built
synagogue in 1872.(xi)
None, but under the aegis of the (UK) Chief Rabbi .
The Belfast Jewish Record, published
since October 1954 (initially with ten issues per year, but later
significantly reduced). It replaced the earlier Jewish Gazette
(a monthly journal published in Belfast from January to December 1933
and February 1934) and the Kibbitzer.(xii)
The Jewish Gazette and the Belfast Jewish Record are
now available online, see below.
Ministers and Rabbis:(xiv)
(To view a short profile of a minister or reader whose name appears in blue - hold the cursor over his name.)
Rev. Dr. Joseph Chotzner
(first term) - from 1869 to 1880(xv)
Rev. Edwin Collins
- from about 1882 to about 1887(xvi)
Rev. B. H. Rosengard
- from about 1888 to about 1891(xvii)
Harris (Zvi Hirsch) Levin
- around 1891 (possibly independent of the congregation)(xviii)
Rev. Dr. Joseph Chotzner
(second term) from 1893 to 1897(xv)
Rev. Joseph Emanuel Myers
- from 1898 to 1904(xix)
Rev (later Rabbi) Jacob Rosenzweig
- from 1905 to 1914(xx)
Rabbi Gedalia Silverstone
- from 1901 to 1906(xxi)
Rabbi Zusman Hodes
- from about 1906 to 1916(xxii)
Rabbi Isaac Halevi Herzog
- from 1916 to 1919(xxv)
Rabbi Jacob Shachter
- from 1926 to 1954(xxvi)
Rabbi Dr. Alexander Carlebach
- from 1954 to 1965(xxvii)
Rabbi Vivian Berman
- from 1967 to 1970(xxviii)
Rabbi Michael Goldman
- from about 1973 to 1974(xxix)
Rev. Israel Geoffrey Hyman
- assistant minister from 1974 to 1976(xxx)
Rabbi Michael Duschinsky
- from 1977 to 1979(xxxiii)
Rabbi Natan Granevitz
- from 1983 to 1988(xxxiv)
Rev. Moshe Perez
- from 1988 to 1990(xxxv)
Mr Moshe Ben-Chorin
- shaliach from WUJS from 1992 to 1993(xxxvi)
Rev. Lee Sunderland
- from 1993 to 1995(xxxvii)
Rev. Eli Kohn
- from 1995 to 1996(xxxviii)
Rev. Aaron Engelmeyer
- from 1997 to 2002(xxxix)
Rabbi Avraham Citron
- from 2002 to 2007(xl)
Rabbi Menachem Brackman
- from 2008 to 2012(xli)
Rabbi David Singer
- from 2013 to 2018(xlii)
Rabbi David Kale, MBE
- from 2018 to present (January 2023)(xliii)
Rival Congregations and their Ministers:
Belfast New Synagogue
In 1893 the Belfast New Synagogue was established,
which continued to function until at least 1895, but probably not much
later. Services were held at 2 Jackson Street, in the north of the city,
a converted corner house also used as a meeting place for the Belfast chevra gemorrah.(xliv)
Rev. E. Freedman - from 1893 until possibly 1894(xlv)
Rev. Abraham Rosenberg
- in and about 1894(xlvi)
See below for lay officers of the congregation.
Regent Street Congregation
For a short period at the end of the nineteenth
century and beginning of the twentieth century, another rival congregation,
known as the United Hebrew Congregation (or the Regent Street Congregation),
existed in Belfast. The congregation used the premises of the Jewish National School at 5 Regent Street.
Harmony in the community was restored, when the two
congregations were amalgamated in about 1902.(xlvii)
The congregation's minister was
Rev. Abraham Weinberg
Rev. Simon Marks
- reader from uncertain date to 1882(xlviii)
Rev. Simcha Myerowitz
- reader from 1880s to 1926(xlix)
Rev. Michael Leinkram
- reader from about 1897 until at least 1904(l)
Rev. Saul D. Barnett
- reader from about 1908 to about 1931(li)
Hosea (Joshua) Steinberg
- 2nd reader from about 1927 to about 1930(lii)
Rev. Saul Polakoff
- 1st reader from about 1931 to about 1948(liii)
Rev. Hosea (Joshua) Steinberg
- 2nd reader from about 1931 to 1939(liv)
Rev. A. Domb - 2nd reader from
about 1946 to about 1948(lv)
Rev. E. Fisher - reader from
about 1948 to about 1950(lvi)
Rev. Tzorf - reader early 1950s
Rev. Abraham Freedman
- reader from about 1955 to about 1957(lviii)
Rev. Leo Sichel
- reader from about 1957 to about 1958(lix)
Rev. Shmuel Aharoni
- reader from 1959 to 1975(lx)
Lay Officers (in 1874)(lxiii):
Vice President - Herman Boas
Hon. Secretary - Martin Jaffé
(1896 to present):
Except where otherwise stated, as regard officers
until the mid-1950s, the data below has been extracted from
Jewish Year Books,
first published in 1896/97.(lxiv) Generally, where a first name is given, this has been obtained from
As regards data since the mid-1950s, this has
been provided by Steven Jaffe with the approval of the council of
the Belfast Jewish Congregation, based primarily on personal
recollections, reports in the Belfast Jewish Record and information
received from members of the council.
Data relating to the congregation's secretaries post 1950s
has been extracted from Jewish Year Books
supplemented by Steven Jaffe.
Where a year is marked with
an asterisk*, this indicates that the term of office had
commenced at least by that year or had continued until at
least that year.
1896*-1924 - Sir Otto Moses Jaffé, JP(lxv)
- John Ross(lxvi)
1928-1929 - S. Freeman, JP
1930-1932 - H. Fox
1932-1936 - H.M. Miller
- John Ross(lxvi)
1938-1967 - Barney H. Hurwitz, OBE, JP(lxvii)
1967-c.1972 - Alfred Cohen
1973-1993 - Captain Harold E. Smith, CBE
1993-2008 - Ronnie Appleton, QC
2008-2018 - Ronnie Appleton, QC jointly with
Dr. Dennis Coppel
2018-2022 - Dr. Dennis Coppel
2022-Present (March 2023) - Gerald Steinberg
1906-1909 - L. Berwitz
1909-1911 - Samuel Freeman, JP
1914-1915 - J. Hurwitz
1918-1924 - H. Fox
1924-1927 - M.E. Miller
1927-1928 - S. Freeman, Jnr
1928-1929 - M.E. Miller
1929-1930 - H. Fox
1930-1931 - H. Brown
1931-1933 - A. Coppel
1933-1935 - J. Hammel
1935-1938 - Barney H. Hurwitz
1938-1939 - S. Freeman
1940-1945 - War Years (no data)
1945-1948 - M. Librach
1948-1954 - H. Genn
1954-1956 - M. Coppel
Treasurers & Joint Treasurers(lxviii)
1896*-1899 - M. Levene
1899-1900 - H. Fox
1904-1905 - Sir Otto Moses Jaffé(lxv)
1905-1906 - S. Gorfunkle
1906-1909 - Samuel Weiner
1909-1912 - Maurice Goldring
1912-1915 - D. Levenson
1915-1922 - S. Freeman
1922-1924 - H. Morris
1924-1927 - S. Freeman
1927-1928 - J. Hammil
1928-1930 - S. Freeman, Jnr
1930-1932 - M. Berwitz
1932-1933 - J. Brown
1933-1934 - L. Epstein
1934-1935 - H. Sergie
1935-1938 - A. Coppel
1938-1940 - I. Samuels
1940-1945 - War Years (no data)
1945-1948 - J. Sunderland
1948-1953 - M. Coppel
1955*-1960* - Dr. Moses Isaac Rosenberg
1957*-1962* - Louis Berwitz
1962-date uncertain - Alfred Cohen
1970-1972 - I. Enlander
1970-1974 - John Kay
1972-1974 - Aubrey Selig
1974-1982 - Abraham S. Freeman
1976-1983 - Mark (Monty) Williams
1983-1991 - Adrian Levey
1984-1986 - Steven Granet
1986-1987, 1991-2008* - Michael D. Black
2008-present (March 2023) - Steven Granet
Chair of Council
1957*- date uncertain - Isaac Coppel
1964* - c.1970 - Marcus Coppel
1970-1972 - Capt. Harold E. Smith
1972-1974 - Leonard Steinberg(lxix)
1974-1982 - John Kay
1982-1992 - Abraham S. Freeman
1992-1999 - Dr. David Warm
1999-2007 - Ivan Selig
2007-2008 - Edwin Coppel
2008-2022 - Michael Black
2008-present (March 2023) - Neville Finch
Deputy Chair of Council
1970* - date uncertain - John Kay
1974*-c.1979 - Abraham S. Freeman
1982-1989* - Mark (Monty) Williams
1990 - Cyril Rosenberg
1993*-2005* - Adrian Levey
c.2005-2008 - Dr. Dennis Coppel
2008-2022 - Gerald Steinberg
Secretaries / Hon. Secretaries /
1896*-1898 - H. Fox
1898-1899 - Joseph J. Gorfunkle
1900-1902 - Y. Yochel
1902-1904 - H. Fox
1904-1905 - J. Friedlander
- Rev. Jacob Rosenzweig(lxvi)
1906-1909 - Samuel Freeman
- Rev. Jacob Rosenzweig(lxvi)
1914-1927 - W.I. Aronstam
(1931-1932 - R.J. Steinberg)
1927-1948 - Harold Goldblatt(lxxiii)
1948-1955 - M.W. Frank
1955-1956 - A. Levi
1955-1957 - Brian Marcus(lxxiv)
1956-1957 - J. Saperia(lxxv)
1957-1964 - Ronald L. Coppel
1957*-1967* - Ivan Selig
1964-1966 - B. Apfel
1966-1970 - S. Goldie
1966-1970, 1973-1988 - Norman Shrage
1970-1988 - Henry L. Solomon
1983-1986 - Neville Finch
1986-1995 - Cyril Rosenberg
1994-1999 - Mrs. Gail Taylor
1994-2007 - Mrs. Norma Simon
2007-2015 - Mrs. Greta Goldstone
2015-present (March 2023) - Mrs. Jane Danker
Lay Officers of the New Congregation in 1895:(lxxv)
President - J. Wolff
Vice-President - B. Miller
Secretary - S. Elliot
J. Bogan; I. Appleton;
I. Levy; M.
Board of Deputies Returns (number of
Jewish Year Books (number of
National Reports & Surveys(lxxxi)
1977 - 246 male (or household) members and 207 female members
1983 - 163 male (or household) members and 149 female members
1990 - 221 members (households)
1996 - 129 members (comprising 65 households,
35 individual male and 29 individual female member)
2001 - 128 members (comprising 90 households,
13 individual male and 25 individual female member)
2010 - listed as having 50 to 99 members (by household)
2016 - listed as having under 50 members (by household)
The congregation is a charity, registered with
the Charities Commission for Northern Ireland (no. NIC100486), registered on
3 March 2015 under the name Belfast Jewish Community. The governing
documents are the Constitution and Rules of the congregation, 1999.(lxxxii)
Notes & Sources - In light of the large number of notes, these now appear towards the foot of this page,
instead of the foot of this box. However, the note can also still be viewed in a pop-up box when the cursor is held over the note number.
JCR-UK is extremely grateful to Steven Jaffe of
Belfast Jewish Heritage for the
assistance and information provided by him in preparing this page and the accompanying
ministerial profiles. He may be contacted at
Belfast Jewish Heritage, which has a Facebook page, organises
heritage tours, walks and events in Northern
Bibliography, Online Articles
and Other Material relating to
Belfast Hebrew Congregation & Jewish Community
Belfast from "Provincial Jewry in Victorian Britain"
(including a paper by Rabbi Dr. A Carlebach, J.G. Fox and H. Meek)
- Papers for a conference at University College, London, convened by the Jewish Historical Society of
England, prepared by Aubrey Newman - 6th July 1975.
Press Reports relating to the
Belfast Jewish Community, 1869 to 1876.
Listed Heritage Sites in Northern Ireland.
Jews of Ireland by Louis Hyman (1972), Chapter XXIV (The Jews
of Belfast 1840-1900);
Jewish Ireland, A Social History by Ray Rivlin (2011), various
Belfast - No. 4 in the "Small is Beautiful" series by Rabbi David Katanka, initially published by the
Jewish Tribune, and subsequently included in the selection of Rabbi Katanka's writing,
entitled Kol Dodi (2015), pp 99/100.
Other Belfast Bibliography.
See also Cemetery section below.
on third parties' websites
Northern Ireland Jewish Heritage Map - the Jewish
history of Northern Ireland told through an interactive map. A
project of Belfast Jewish Heritage (project director - Stephen
Jaffe) and affiliated to JCR-UK.
Queen's University Belfast, Digital
Special Collections & Archives, holds digitised copies of the
following journals, which may be accessed, searched and viewed
Best of Belfast podcast about the history and legacy of the
Belfast community, including the story of
Sir Otto Jaffe: "The Linen Entrepreneur Who Changed A City".
Jewish Encyclopaedia article on Belfast by Joseph Jacobs, c.1906.
Filings with the Charities Commission for Northern Ireland:
Trustees Annual Reports for the years ended 30 November
Financial Statements for the years ended 30 November
See further material on JCR-UK's
Ireland home page, which may also relate to Belfast.
Notable Jewish Connections with Belfast
Tony Danker (b. 1971), appointed director of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) in 2020,
was born in Belfast.
Abba Eban (1915-2002), born Aubrey Solomon, Israel's foreign minister and leading diplomat of the 20th century, was a child evacuee in Belfast during World War I.
Benjamin Glazer (1887-1956), twice Oscar winner, was born in Belfast.
Harold Goldblatt (1899-1982), actor and director, was a founder of the Group Theatre in Belfast.
Chaim Herzog (1918-1997), sixth president of Israel (1983-1993), was born in Belfast. His father
Rabbi Isaac Herzog was the rabbi of
the Belfast Hebrew Congregation (1916-1919) and was later Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of the
Land of Israel.
His mother, Sarah Herzog (1896-1979), began her married life in Belfast, was the founding president of the world-wide Emunah organisation for religious Zionist Jewish women.
Jaffe fountain (erected in or after 1874) a landmark in the centre of Belfast, currently located at an entrance to the Victoria shopping centre,
commemorates Daniel Joseph Jaffe (1809-1874), founder of the Belfast Hebrew
Sir Otto Moses Jaffe, LLD, JP (1846-1929), businessman and philanthropist, was the only Jew to be elected Lord Mayor of Belfast (in 1899 and 1903).
He was Life President of the Belfast Hebrew Congregation.
Helen Lewis, MBE (1916-2009), who pioneered modern dance in Northern Ireland, was a survivor of Auschwitz and author of
A Time to Speak, about her experiences in the Holocaust.
Maxim Litvinov (1876-1951), born Meir Wallach, Bolshevik revolutionary and foreign minister under Stalin, lived in Belfast for some time prior to the
Russian 1917 revolutions.
Rose Mattus (nee Vasel) (1916-2006), co-founder with her husband of the Haagen-Dazs ice cream empire, spent part of her childhood in Belfast.
Sir Richard Needham (b. 1942), Lord Kilmorey, an Irish peer, MP and one of the longest-serving ministers in the Northern Ireland office (1985-1992), is of Jewish descent,
being the maternal grandson of Sir Lionel Faudel-Phillips, 3rd and last Baronet.
Leonard Steinberg (1936-2009), created Lord Steinberg of Belfast in 2004, was a leading businessman, deputy treasurer of the Conservative Party and president of the Manchester Jewish Federation, the Manchester community's leading social welfare organisation.
Harry Towb (1925-2009), actor and director, was born in Larne Co Antrim and grew up in Belfast.
G.W. Wolff (1834-1911), Conservative and Unionist MP for East Belfast, co-founder of the shipbuilding firm Harland & Wolff, was born into a German Jewish family but baptised as a child.
Millisle training farm Co Down, about 20 miles from Belfast, was a refugee settlement during World War II, founded by the Bachad religious Zionist youth movement.
It became home to children
from the kindertransport and other refugees and after the war a group of child survivors from Auschwitz began their recuperation at Millisle.
Other Belfast Jewish Institutions & Organisations
(that had been formed by 1907*)
Educational & Theological
Other Institutions & Organisations
Belfast Jewish Board of Guardians (founded 1893)
to assist resident Jewish poor and strangers.
Hebrew Foreign Ladies' Benevolent Visiting Society (founded 1896).
Hebrew Society for Visiting the Sick (founded
Literary and Social Society (founded by 1903).
Benai Benath (founded by 1904).
Hebrew New Burial Society (founded by 1905).
Hebrew Benevolent Society (founded by 1905).
* As listed in the Jewish Directory of 1874 and the Jewish Year Books 1896/97
Marriage records of the United Hebrew Congregation, Regent
Street for 1902-1903 (2 entries) held by the
Board of Deputies: Ref: bod 57/1a/1
Queen's University Belfast
Special Collections & Archives holds an incomplete set of original
minute books for the Belfast Hebrew Congregation.
Belfast Jewish Cemetery Information
Belfast has the following Jewish cemeteries:
Belfast City Cemetery, Jewish Section,
Falls Road, Belfast BT12. This was the first Jewish cemetery in Belfast, opened in 1869,
the first burial being in 1873. Since 1912, it has been used only rarely, the last burial being in 1964.
Carnmoney Jewish Cemetery,
Church Road, Carnmoney Hill, Newtonabbey, BT36. The second
Jewish cemetery for Belfast. Since its opening
in 1912, it has been the main burial ground for Belfast's Jewish
Community and remains in use:
(For additional information, see also
IAJGS Cemetery Project
Belfast Jewish Population Data
In the scroll-down table below, the census figures
are marked with an asterisk (*) to indicate that such figures
relate to the whole of Ulster
(until 1921), or to the whole of Northern Ireland (for later censuses), not
||1861 Census of Ireland|
||1871 Census of Ireland|
||1881 Census of Ireland|
||1891 Census of Ireland|
||400 - 500
||Jewish Year Book 1896/97|
||1901 Census of Ireland|
||700 - 800
||Jewish Year Book 1904/05|
||800 - 1,000
||Jewish Year Book 1906/07|
||Jewish Year Book 1907/08|
||Jewish Year Book 1910|
||1926 UK Census|
||1937 UK Census|
||Jewish Year Book 1945/46|
||Jewish Year Book 1949|
||1951 UK Census|
||Jewish Year Book 1955|
||Jewish Year Book 1960|
||1961 UK Census|
||1971 UK Census|
||Jewish Year Book 1975|
||Jewish Year Book 1976|
||Jewish Year Book 1977|
||1981 UK Census|
||1991 UK Census|
||2001 UK Census|
||2011 UK Census|
||2021 UK Census|
|*for all Ulster (until 1921) or all Nothern Ireland (from 1922).
Notes and Sources:
returns to text above)
Communities and Congregations in Ireland home page
Page created: 21 August 2005
Consolidation of Belfast community and congregation pages: 27 July 2017
Data significantly expanded and notes added: 2 October 2020
Page most recently amended: 14 November 2023
Research by David Shulman and Steven Jaffe
Formatting by David Shulman
Explanation of Terms |
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