National Library of Israel receives 22-volume archive on history of Irish Jews

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National Library of Israel receives 22-volume archive on history of Irish Jews

In a ceremony in Jerusalem on Monday, author and compiler Stuart Rosenblatt handed over 22 volumes — his in-depth research — in the presence of the Irish ambassador to Israel.

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

Irish ambassador, Sallai Meridor Chair of National Library and Malcolm Gafson, Chair of Irish Israel Friendship League
Irish ambassador, Sallai Meridor Chair of National Library and Malcolm Gafson, Chair of Irish Israel Friendship League

A unique archive of Irish Jewish history has been presented to the National Library of Israel.

In a ceremony at the library in Jerusalem on Monday evening, the author and compiler, Stuart Rosenblatt, handed over 22 volumes — his in-depth research — in the presence of the Irish ambassador to Israel, Kyle O’Sullivan, and members and descendants of Irish Jewry now living in Israel. The event was organised by the chair of the Israel Ireland Friendship League, Malcolm Gafson.

Rosenblatt is head of the Irish Jewish Genealogical Society and also president of the Genealogical Society of Ireland. As part of his research, he visited all 32 counties in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, in search of documentation, and also conducted oral history interviews. Among his important discoveries was the Alien Register of 1914-1922 which contains the names of non-UK citizens who arrived and lived in Dublin, and were required to register with the police.

The Irish Jewish Family History Database contains information about more than 70,000 individuals who lived in Ireland between 1700 and 2021. The majority of records are official birth, marriage, burial records, alien registration, 1901 and 1911 census records, school records, and naturalisation certificates.

An initial review by the Library has revealed some interesting findings, including: the work of a Jewish midwife, Ada Mirrelson Shillman, who worked in Cork and Dublin between 1887 and 1915. Rosenblatt transcribed the handwritten minutes of the Cork Hebrew Congregation, from October 1898 to March 1947.

There are also brief biographies of prominent Irish Jews, including Rabbi Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog (also Isaac HaLevi Herzog), the first Chief Rabbi of the then Irish Free State, who served from 1921 to 1936, and his son, Israeli President Chaim Herzog.

Israeli president Isaac Herzog, Chaim Herzog’s son, sent a letter that stated, in part, “Needless to say, I feel a strong sense of personal connection and pride as an Israeli Jew with a direct Irish connection and derive special pleasure from the arrival of these volumes to Israel,” adding that he looked forward to looking through the records at another time.

The Irish ambassador, Kyle O’Sullivan acknowledged the importance of the collection, which contributes to a permanent record of Ireland-Jewish shared history, and the significance of its being housed in the main global repository of Jewish ancestry.

There are only five hard copies of Irish Jewish Family History Database in the world; four are in Ireland at the National Archives in Dublin, the National Library in Dublin, the Irish Jewish Museum, and the Genealogical Society of Ireland. The fifth set of Rosenblatt’s personal hardbound copies will now be housed at the NLI. However, the database is a living project that is being updated continuously. Rosenblatt is now at work on his 23rd volume. Once completed, it too will be added to the set at the NLI.

Stuart Rosenblatt said: “These volumes are a living history of people who have now no voice. Their presence is here in the National Library of Israel. The passage of time in the four corners of Ireland, in every county and town where the wandering Israelites sojourned is now recorded for posterity. Births, marriages, deaths, census, alien registration, synagogue memberships, home and business addresses, grave details and inscriptions are just a sample in the 22 volumes for families to discover their rich Irish heritage. It is an honor for me to have my personal volumes in the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem.”

NLI Head of Collections Dr. Raquel Ukeles said, “This extraordinary resource fits perfectly with the National Library of Israel’s role as the institution of national memory for the Jewish people worldwide. It will allow scholars, researchers, members of the Irish-Jewish community and their descendants, to deepen their understanding of their ancestry and heritage.”

Stuart Rosenblatt may be contacted on or +447889794757, for anyone of Irish-Jewish lineage who wishes to receive an outline of their family tree.

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