Christy Evans praises a remarkable member of Ireland’s Jewish community
Ba dhuine neamhchoitianta é Rabbi Yitzhak (‘Isaac’) Herzog. Ba bhall den comhthionól beomhar Ghiúdach in Éirinn céad bliain ó shin. Ba thírgráthóir agus Gaeilgeoir é, Yitzhak. Bhí Gaeilge, Béarla, Eabhrais, Polonnais agus Rúisis aige. Thaitin sé leis cuairt a thabhairt go dtí Gaeltachtaí in Ard Mhaca, in Aontraim agus i gCorcaigh. Ar an drochuair, bhí frithghiúdachas forleathan ag an am sin.
Is saineolaí í an Dochtúir Ríona Ní Fhrighil maidir leis na Giúdaigh in Éirinn. Scríobh sí go raibh an frithghiúdachas ba mheasa le fáil i measc daoine Éireannacha nach raibh teagmháil acu le Giúdaigh. Spreag Yitzhak daoine chun staidéar a dhéanamh ar ár dteanga dhúchais. Ba phoblactánach láidir é, agus tugadh ‘The Sinn Féin Rabbi’ mar leasainm air. Fuair Yitzhak bás i 1959.
Tógadh mac Yitzhak, Chaim Herzog, ag 33 Ascail Bloomfield i mBaile Átha Cliath. Sa deireadh, deineadh Uachtarán Iosrael de Chaim. D’oscail Chaim Herzog an Iarsmalann Giúdach i mBaile Átha Cliath i 1985. Tá sé ar fheabhas. Tá taispeántas fíorspéisiúil agus mealltach mar gheall ar na Giúdaigh in Éirinn ag an iarsmalann. Ba dhuine cairdiúil, cainteach, greanmhar agus tírghrách é, Yitzhak Herzog. Ba cheart go mbeadh a fhios ag daoine ar an méid a rinne sé agus go moltar é go forleathan. Le hayyim Yitzhak! www.jewishmuseum.ie
Rabbi Yitzhak Herzog was an extraordinary Irishman. He was a leading member of Ireland’s small but energetic Jewish community one hundred years ago. Yitzhak was a patriot and a Gaeilgeoir. He spoke Irish, Hebrew, English, Polish and Russian. He enjoyed visits to Irish-speaking areas of Armagh, Antrim and Cork. Unfortunately, there was an undercurrent of anti- Jewish sentiment in Ireland at that time.
Dr Ríona Ní Fhrighil is an expert on Ireland’s Jewish community. She has established that, in general terms, anti-semitic sentiments were more common amongst Irish people who had no direct experience of Jewish people. Yitzhak loved the Irish language and he urged people to study it. He was firmly republican in his views and he was popularly known as ‘The Sinn Féin Rabbi’.
Yitzhak died in 1959. His son, Chaim Herzog, was raised at 33 Bloomfield Avenue in Dublin. Chaim went on to be the President of Israel. Chaim Herzog opened the Jewish Museum in Dublin in 1985. It’s well worth a visit. The exhibits give a fascinating insight into the lives of Jewish-Irish people. Rabbi Yitzhak Herzog was chatty, humorous and patriotic. We should acknowledge his contribution to Irish life, and we should praise this unusual man. Le hayyim, Yitzhak! www.jewishmuseum.ie