JCR-UK

The Cork Jewish Community

and former

Cork Hebrew Congregation

Cork, Ireland

 

 

 

 
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 community.

City of Cork

Cork (Irish: Corcaigh) is the second largest city of the Republic of Ireland. The city is a major port, although situated slightly inland from Ireland’s southern coast proper, sitting on the estuary of the river Lee where it flows into Lough Mahon and thence to Cork Harbour. Although geographically part of County Cork, the city of Cork has a separate administration, and was officially referred to as a “County Borough” until 2001, when the term was formally replace by “City”. Although the city has a population of about 120,000, there are well over 185,000 living in the Greater Cork area.

Cork Jewish Community and Congregations

The first Jewish community in Cork, was a relatively small community of Sephardi Jews from Portugal in the mid-eighteenth century, of which relatively little is known.

Subsequently, an Ashkenazi Jewish community was established in the late nineteenth century, which founded the Cork Hebrew Congregation in 1881. A short while after the founding of that congregation, there was contention in the community and a second congregation, the Remnant of Israel Synagogue, was established and the two rival congregations continued to exist in the community until unity was restored after some thirty years. In 1915, there was another short lived breakaway congregation, the Cork Hebrew Congregation in Union Quay.

The community reached its zenith shortly after World War I, numbering 400-500 souls, but thereafter numbers gradually continued to decline. By February 2016, only a handful of Jews remained in Cork and, due to these declining communal numbers and unsustainable finances, the Cork Hebrew Congregation's synagogue closed its doors and was sold, bringing to an end some 135 years of continuous Jewish congregational presence in the city. However, following the closure of the synagogue in 2016, a Reform-flavoured group was established, the Munster Jewish Community.

Shalom Park at Monerea Terrace was developed in 1989. The land for this amenity was donated by Cork Gas Company, who also provided the traditional style lighting within the park. The park name commemorates the Cork Jewish community, which originally settled in this area of the city having arrived as refugees.

(See further details, see History, reproduced from the former Cork Jewish Community and former congregation's official website.)


Cork Synagogue, 10 South Terrace, September 2014
© David Shulman 2014

Congregation Data

(All data relates to Cork's principal congregation, unless otherwise stated)

Name:

Cork Hebrew Congregation

also known simply as Cork Synagogue and , in the early twentieth century, also known as the Old Hebrew Congregation(ii)

Last Address:

10 South Terrace, Cork, from about 1926(iii)

Previous Addresses:

The immediate previous address, from at least 1915, was 9 South Terrace(iv) (which also housed the Talmud Torah after 1926).

Prior to 1915, the congregation appeared to be situated at 10 South Terrace from about 1903.(v)

Prior to 1903, although the congregation's listed address was always in South Terrace (since 1896), the situation is less clear as to the exact number.(vi)

The congregation had initially held services in a rented room in Eastville and then, from 1884 in a room in Marlborough Street.

Date Founded:

1881(ix)

Current Status:

Synagogue de-consecrated and sold due to "declining communal numbers and unsustainable finances". The Synagogue closed its doors on 7 February 2016. For some years prior to closure services were held only monthly and on High Holy Days.

Ritual:

All of Cork's congregation were Ashkenazi Orthodox (except for the earliest community, which was Sephardi, and the present reform group) .

Community Website:

https://www.jewishcork.com - although the congregation has closed this website is still maintained.

Affiliation:

Although none of Cork's congregations were affiliated to any organisation, the Cork Hebrew Congregation accepted the aegis of the Chief Rabbi in London until the establishment of the office of Chief Rabbi of Ireland in 1922.

Local Jewish Press:

At one time (at least from about 1954 to about 1958), the community had its own Jewish newspaper, the Cork Jewish Times, whose editor was Mr. F. Sless.(x)

Membership Data:

Jewish Year Books (number of seat-holders)(xi)

1897

1902

1904

1905

1909

65

35

40

30

25

Earlier Congregation:

The first Jewish community in Cork, was a relatively small community of Sephardi Jews. It was founded by Jews from Portugal who settled in the city in the eighteenth century. According to certain sources (Roth - Rise of Provincial Jewry), the community was established at some time between 1731 and 1747. Other sources (History from Cork Jewish Community's website) state that the Sephardi Jews did not settle in Cork until 1772 (although there is reference in a press report to Jews in the town in 1771). Relatively little is known of these Jews and it is uncertain whether they established a synagogue, although they had their own Jewish burial ground in Kemp Street. This community appears to have died out by 1796.

Rival Congregations:

Remnant of Israel Synagogue

This rival congregation was established in the early 1880s(xv) and merged with the main Cork congregation in about 1913.(xvi)

Address

Services were held at 26 Marlborough Street, Cork (until about 1901/2),(xvii) and subsequently, from at least 1903, the congregation's synagogue was at 24 South Terrace, Cork.(xviii)

Number of Seatholders(xix)

1902

1903

1905

1909

65

35

40

30

Ministers

Rabbi Abraham Sheftel Birzansky from about 1882 until early 1900s.(xx)

Rev. Myer Elyan from at least 1901 until its merger in 1913.(xxi)

Lay Officers

See list below.


Union Quay street sign

Union Quay street sign

 Union Quay street signs
© David Shulman 2014

 

Cork Hebrew Congregation at Union Quay

This rival congregation, which also called itself the Cork Hebrew Congregation, split from the main Cork Hebrew Congregation in 1915.(xxiii)

Its relationship with the main congregation appears to have been extremely acrimonious, as witnessed by the chain of letters to the Editor of The Jewish Chronicle of September and October 1915.(xxiv) This congregation also claimed to be successor to the Remnant of Israel Synagogue.(xxv) It lasted until about 1918.(xxvi)

Address

15 Union Quay, Cork.(xxvii)

Reader

Rev. M.D. Hershman (or Herschman) was appointed chazan, shochet and teacher from October 1915(xxviii)

The congregation did not appear to have appointed a minister.

Lay Officers

See list below.

Current Jewish Group:

Cork Jewish Communiy
(formerly Munster Jewish Community)

This group was formed in 2016, following the closure of the Cork Hebrew Congregation's synagogue and describes itself as "a community without a shul". In July 2021, it changed its name from Munster Jewish Community to Cork Jewish Community (adding in parenthesis, “serving the whole of Munster”).(xxix) It is based in Cork, but includes the surrounding counties, and its membership is a broad mix of Jews living, working, studying or visiting in Munster, the South-West corner of Ireland.(xxx)

Although unaffiliated, the Community has a predominantly Reform orientation and has been host to a number of visiting Reform rabbis.

Website: http://munsterjewishcommunity.com/

Ministers of the Cork Hebrew Congregation:
(To view a short profile of a minister or reader whose name appears in blue - hold the cursor over his name.)

Rev. Myer Elyan - from 1881 until about 1890s(xxxv)

Rev. Joseph Emanuel Myers - from 1890 until 1898(xxxvi)

Rev. Eli Bloom - from 1898 until about 1901(xxxvii)

Rev. M. Cohen - from about 1901 until 1903(xxxviii)

Rev. J. Goldstone - from about 1904 until about 1915(xxxix)

Rev. I. Henry Klein - from about 1915 until 1920(xl)

(Alexander Levison reputedly served the congregation for some three months in the 1920s)(xliv)

Rev. H. Khan - shochet from 1920, then minister, reader and shochet from about 1922 until about 1927 (and thereafter shochet and assistant reader until at least 1937)(xlv)

Rev. Joseph Wolman - from 1926 until 1937(xlvi)

Rev. Bernard Kersh - from 1937 until 1952(xlvii)

Rev. Shalom Barron - from 1952 until 1955(xlviii)

Rev. Mordechai Moshe Baddiel - from 1957 until 1963(xlix)

Readers (Chazans) of the Cork Hebrew Congregation:

Rev. Mathias Bookman - reader from 1898 until date unknown(l)

Rev. W. Weiner -  reader in about 1900(li)

Lay Officers - Cork Hebrew Congregation from 1896:

Unless where otherwise stated, the data on lay officers has been extracted from Jewish Year Books, first published in 1896/97.(lv)

Presidents

1896-1897 - Mark L. Cohen

1897-1898 - Elias Jackson

1898-1900 - Solomon Cruger(lvi)

1900-1903 - S.L. Goldfoot

1903-1904 - S. Trifer

1905-1908 - S. Spiro

1908-1909 - A.M. Sandler

1909-1910 - Wolfe Jackson

1910-1913 - S. Spiro, JP

1913-1914 - Max Newman

1914-1917 - S. Spiro, JP

1917-1920 - Wolfe Jackson

1920-1924 - Max Newman

1924-1930 - Wolfe Jackson

1930-1932 - J. Levin

1932-1936 - J. Epstein

1936-1937 - J. Levin

1937-1938 - L. Jackson

1938-1939 - M. Elyan

1939-1940 - Max Newman

1940-1945 - no data

1945-1946 - S.J. Goldberg

1946-1947 - M. Elyan

1947-1948 - Gerald Yael Goldberg(lvii)

1948-1949 - P. Diamond

1949-1952 - J. Jackson

1952-1953 - H. Sless

1953-1954 - Dr. L. Scher

1954-1955 - S. Vard

1955-1956 - A. Sless

Hon Secretaries

1902-1903 - S. Spiro

1905-1906 - A.M. Sandler

1906-1907 - S. Spiro

1907-1908 - A.M. Sandler

1908-1909 - S. Spiro

1909-1913 - I.I. Epstein

1913-1914 - I. Scher

1914-1918 - Louis Jackson

1918-1926 - J.T. Clein

1926-1928 - A. Sless

1928-1960 - J.T. Clein(lviii)

1960-1963 - Gerald Yael Goldberg(lvii)

1963-1964 - H. Cohen

1964-1969 - A. Elyan

1969-1977 - H. Cohen

1994-1999 - Fred Rosehill, who
continued to serve as chairman
until closure of the synagogue in 2012
.(lix)

Vice Presidents

1925-1928 - J. Levin

1928-1929 - H. Sless

1929-1930 - J. Levin

1930-1932 - L. Goldberg

1934-1936 - J. Levin

1936-1937 - H. Sless

1937-1938 - P. Diamond

1939-1940 - J. Levin

1940-1945 - no data

1945-1946 - H. Elzam

1946-1947 - J. Jackson

1947-1949 - M. Nathan

1949-1951 - M. Elyan

Treasurers

1896-1897 - David Schar

1897-1898 - Jonas Goldwater

1898-1900 - Gadaliah Sayers

1900-1901 - Jonas Goldwater

1901-1903 - H. Jackson

1905-1909 - E.L. Jackson

1909-1911 - S. Criger

1911-1912 - I. Dimond

1912-1913 - L. Cohen

1913-1914 - L. Herman

1914-1915 - I. Marcus

1915-1917 - Joe Levin

1917-1918 - M. Levin

1918-1920 - J. Marcus

1920-1924 - J. Levin

1924-1926 - H. Sless

1926-1928 - J. Marcus

1928-1929 - L. Jackson

1929-1930 - H. Sless

1930-1931 - A. Sless

1931-1932 - H. Sless

1932-1934 - A. Sless

1934-1936 - H. Sless

1936-1937 - N. Kaitcer

1937-1938 - C.T. Clein

1938-1939 - B. Atkin

1939-1940 - S. Marcus

1940-1945 - no data

1945-1946 - S.J. Goldberg

1947-1948 - P. Cowan

1948-1952 - J.T. Clein

1952-1953 - H. Kaitcer

1953-1954 - J. Jackson

1954-1955 - H. Cohen

1955-1956 - C.T. Clein

Lay Officers - Remnant of Israel Synagogue from 1900:

Presidents 

1900-1901 - Philip Sayer

1903-1904 - L. Herman

1904-1906 - Max Newman

1906-1907 - D. Scher

1907-1909 - Max Newman

1909-1913 - I. Levin

Treasurers

1900-1901 - Harris Clein

1901-1902 - Joseph Levin

1906-1907 - S. Medalie

1907-1909 - S. Clein

1909-1913 - H. Wyne

Secretaries or Hon. Secretaries

1900-1901 - J.I. Epstein

1901-1902 - B. Rostovsky

1903-1906 - Myer Sayers

1906-1908 - I. Marcus

1908-1909 - I. Marcus & B. Rostovsky(lx)

1909-1910 - I. Nathan

1910-1913 - Jacob Sayers

Lay Officers - Congregation at Union Quay:

1915-1918

President - A.H. Goldfoot;  Treasurer - S.M. Criger;  Hon. Secretary - M. Cliffe

Notes & Sources - 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.

 

Search the All-UK Database

The records in the database associated with Cork include:

  • 1851 Anglo Jewry Database(updated 2016)

    • Individuals in the 1851 Anglo Jewry Database who were living in Cork during the 1770s (1 record), 1800s (1 record), 1820s (1 record), 1830s (1 record), 1890s (1 record), 1900s (1 record) and 1910s (1 record).

 

On-line Articles, Bibliography and Other Material
relating to the Cork Jewish Community

on JCR-UK

on third parties' websites

 

Other Cork Jewish Institutions & Organisations*

Educational & Theological

  • Hebrew and Religious Classes (also known as Talmud Torah) (date founded not known), address continued to be 9 South Terrace, after congregation moved to 10 South Terrace.

  • National School (founded 1890)

Other Institutions & Organisations

  • Jewish Board of Guardians (founded 1902).

  • Jewish Atheletics Association (founded by 1909).

  • Chovevei Zion (founded by 1911).

  • Literary and Social Society and Social Society (founded by by 1922).

  • Daughters of Zion (formerly Ladies Zionist Association) (founded by 1925).

* As listed in Jewish Year Books prior to World War II.

 

Cork Jewish Cemetery Information

Cork Jewish Cemetery Gate

 The entrance gates to the Cork
Jewish Cemetery in Curraghkippane
© David Shulman 2014

 
 The following are the present and past Jewish cemeteries in Cork:

  • Eighteenth century Jewish burial ground. Remains of this cemetery, used by the short-lived Sephardi community, were discovered in Kemp Street, on the south-east corner of White Street, to the rear of the Cork Hebrew Congregation's recently-closed synagogue in South Terrace.

  • Cork Jewish Cemetery, Blarney Road, Curraghkippane. Established in 1887 and extended in 1914 and 1947. Still in use.

For further information on Cork's Jewish cemeteries, see IAJGS International Jewish Cemeteries Project - Cork)

 

 Cork 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 Munster, not just Cork.
Year Number Source

 

1861 2* 1861 Census of Ireland
1871 15* 1871 Census of Ireland
1881 44* 1881 Census of Ireland
1896 300 Jewish Year Book 1896/97
1897 350 Jewish Year Book 1897/98
1900 400 Jewish Year Book 1900/01
1918 450 Jewish Year Book 1919
1921 350 Jewish Year Book 1922
1946 300 Jewish Year Book 1947
1948 220 Jewish Year Book 1949
1950 320 Jewish Year Book 1951
1953 200 Jewish Year Book 1954
1958 154 Jewish Year Book 1959
1959 150 Jewish Year Book 1960
1963 75 Jewish Year Book 1964
1964 60 Jewish Year Book 1965
1969 70 Jewish Year Book 1970
1970 60 Jewish Year Book 1971
1975 50 Jewish Year Book 1976
1973 30 Jewish Year Book 1974
1983 50 Jewish Year Book 1984
1985 60 Jewish Year Book 1986
1991 30 Jewish Year Book 1992
2004 Two families and some scattered Jews in surrounding countryside Cork Hebrew Congregation's website
*for all Munster.

 

Notes and Sources:
( returns to text above)

  • (i) Reserved.

  • (ii) This was to differentiate it from the rival new congregation, the Remnant of Israel Synagogue, see below.

  • (iii) This had been the address listed for the congregation in Jewish Year Books continuously from 1927.

  • (iv) This was the address listed in Jewish Year Books from 1916 through 1926.

  • (v) The Jewish Year Books from 1903/4 through 1913, although no address is given in the 1914 edition and simply South Terrace appears in the 1915 edition.

  • (vi) The Jewish Year Books give the address as: 9 & 10 South Terrace (1899/1900 & 1900/01 edition); 10 South Terrace (1897/8 & 1898/9 & editions); 24 South Terrace (1896/7 & 1902/03 editions, although this may be confusing it with the rival congregation at the time); and no address (1901/02 edition).

  • (vii) and (viii) Reserved.

  • (ix) The Jewish Chronicle report of 30 December 1881 (The Jews of Ireland from Earliest Times to the Year 1910 by Louis Hyman (1972), p.218). Erroneously, the Jewish Year Book of 1896/97 gives the date as 1883 and the 1985 edition give it as 1880.

  • (x) Jewish Year Books 1955 through 1958.

  • (xi) Membership numbers extracted from Jewish Year Books. In each case, the date given is the date when the congregation was first listed as having the number of seatholders indicated.

  • (xii) to (xiv) Reserved.

  • (xv) The Jews of Ireland from Earliest Times to the Year 1910, p.219, states that "[A]s early as the second year of the [Cork Hebrew] congregation ... a dissident tabernacle calling itself 'Remnant of Israel'... was in existence". It was not listed in Jewish Year Books until the 1900/01 edition.

  • (xvi) Based on last listing in the Jewish Year Book 1913.

  • (xvii) Listing address in the Jewish Year Book 1901/02.

  • (xvii) Listing address in Jewish Year Books 1903/04 through 1913.

  • (xix) Membership numbers extracted from Jewish Year Books. In each case, the date given is the date when the congregation was first listed as having the number of seatholders indicated.

  • (xx) The Jews of Ireland from Earliest Times to the Year 1910 by Louis Hyman (1972), p.219. Rabbi Birzansky was not listed in any Jewish Year Book.

  • (xxi) Based upon the listing of Rev. Elyan (or Eljan) as minister of Remnant of Israel Synagogue in Jewish Year Books from 1901/2 through 1913. Rev. Elyan had initially served the Cork Hebrew Congregation.

  • (xxii) Reserved.

  • (xxiii) Based on the first listing in the Jewish Year Book 1916 and advertisement in The Jewish Chronicle of 17 September 1915.

  • (xxiv) These are a chain of letters to the editor of The Jewish Chronicle dated 24 September 1915, 8 October 1915, 15 October 1915 and later in October 1915, written, alternately, by Mr. S. Spiro of the main Cork congregation and Mr. S. Criger of the Union Quay congregation.

  • (xxv) The Jewish Chronicle letter to the editor of late October 1915.

  • (xxvi) Based on last listing in the Jewish Year Book 1918.

  • (xxvi) This was the address listed in Jewish Year Books 1916 through 1918, and is also mentioned in the letters to the Editor of The Jewish Chronicle (see above).

  • (xxviii) The Jewish Chronicle report of 29 October 1915.

  • (xxix) The Jewish Chronicle report of 2 August 1921.

  • (xxx) Munster Jewish Community's website, accessed 12 January 2021.

  • (xxxi) to (xxxiv) Reserved.

  • (xxxv) The Jews of Ireland from Earliest Times to the Year 1910 by Louis Hyman (1972), p.218. Rev. Elyan (or Eljan) subsequently became minister of the rival Remnant of Israel Synagogue.

  • (xxxvi) Jewish Chronicle obituary of 18 November 1910 and Rev. Myers's listing as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1896/7 (the first edition) and 1897/8. He was also listed as visiting minister in the 1898/9 edition.

  • (xxxvii) Based upon Rabbi Bloom's listing as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1899/1900 through 1901/02 and his Jewish Chronicle obituary.

  • (xxxviii) Based upon Jewish Chronicle reports of 2 August 1901 and 31 July 1903 and Rev. Cohen's listing as minister of the congregation in the Jewish Year Book 1902/03. Rev. Cohen was previously in Glasgow and left Cork for South Africa.

  • (xxxix) Based upon various Jewish Chronicle reports. However, the Jewish Year Book 1913 was the only edition that listed Rev. Goldstone as minister of the congregation, and it referred to him as Rev. I.J. Goldstone.

  • (xl) Based upon The Jewish Chronicle obituary of 29 April 1960 and other various reports. However, Rev. Klein is only listed as minister (and reader) of the congregation in the Jewish Year Books 1920 and 1921, and it is possible that his early years with the congregation were just as a reader and headmaster of the religious classes.

  • (xli) to (xliii) Reserved.

  • (xliv) For additional details regarding Levison, see the Independent Hebrew Congregation, Edinburgh.

  • (xlv) Based upon Rev. Khan's listing as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1922 through 1926. He is also listed as shochet and assistant reader in the editions for 1927 through 1930. The Jewish Chronicle of 30 April 1920 reported his appointment as shochet, and the Jewish Chronicle of 8 October 1937 described him as reader of the congregation.

  • (xlvi) Based upon The Jewish Chronicle obituary of 6 August 1971. Rev. Wolman was only listed as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1927 through 1930, 1936 and 1937.

  • (xlvii) Based upon The Jewish Chronicle obituary of 21 March 1997. Rev. Kersh was listed as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1938 through 1951 (except for the war years, when there was no publication).

  • (xlviii) Based upon Rev. Barron's listing as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1953 through 1955.

  • (xlix) Based upon Rev. Baddiel's listing as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books 1958 through 1963.

  • (l) Based upon Jewish Chronicle reports. Rev. Bookman is not listed in any Jewish Year Book as serving this congregation.

  • (li) Based upon Jewish Chronicle report of Rev. Weiner's appointment as chazan and shochet. He is not listed in any Jewish Year Book as serving this congregation.

  • (lii) to (liv) Reserved.

  • (lv) Where a person is first listed in a year book as holding a particular office, it has been assumed that his term of office commenced in the year of publication of the relevent year book and that he continued in office until the commencement of office of his successor, unless the office was vacant. (Initially year books corresponded to the Hebrew year, and thus ran roughly from autumn of one year - the year of publication - until autumn of the next year. From 1909, year books were published according to the Gregorian year, being published generally towards the end of the year prior to year appearing the the title of the year book. For example, if an officer is listed in Jewish Year Books 1935 through 1938, it is assumed that he commenced office in 1934 and continued in office until 1938). However, it should be noted that this is only an assumption and, accordingly, his actual years of office may differ from those shown here. Jewish Year Books were not published during WWII subsequent to 1940. There were no Jewish Year Book listings of officers (other than secretary) subsequent to 1956.

  • (lvi) Initially spelled Kruger.

  • (lvii) Mr. Goldberg (1912-2003) was elected as the first Jewish Lord Mayor of Cork in 1977. See Cork News report of 13 April 2012 and Irish Times obituary of 10 January 2004.

  • (lviii) As Mr. Clein is listed as hon. secretary in Jewish Year Books both prior to and after World War II, it is assumed that he also served in such capacity throughout the war, although no data is available for such years.

  • (lix) Fred Rosehill (1927-2016) oversaw the closure of the synagogue in 2016, and died shortly afterwards. See various press reports on the closure and Irish Time obituary of 10 December 2016.

  • (lix) Mr. Marcus was described as hon. secretary and Mr. Rostovsky as secretary.

 

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Page created: 31 January 2006
Data significantly expanded and notes first added: 11 January 2021
Latest revision or update: 16 August 2021

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