Cork’s Jewish story to be told in exhibition

Cork’s Jewish story to be told in exhibition
A picture of one of the Jewish football teams in Cork, 1952.

Cork's Jewish legacy is to be celebrated in a permanent exhibition at the city's public museum.

The Jewish community in Cork arrived the 1880s but the local synagogue at South Terrace had to close last year due to a lack of members.

The exhibition entitled, ‘The tsar, the Rosehills and the music shop’ follows the story of the Russian Jews from their arrival to ‘Jewtown’ in the city, to their thriving community in the 1930s and 40s, to the eventual decline of the community.

“After the deconsecration of the Cork Synagogue in 2016, many artifacts have been donated to the Cork Museum,” said the Cork Hebrew Congregation.

“The story of Cork Jewry will be displayed at the museum based in Fitzgerald’s Park, in a wonderful opportunity to keep the story of the original Eastern European community alive for generations to come.” 

Aileen O'Connor, of Heritageworks, who are helping to organise the exhibition said it would pay tribute to the late Fred Rosehill who had been a strong custodian of the Jewish faith in Cork.

“[He] stayed in his Cork family business when most of his peers emigrated, took on the extraordinary task of keeping the synagogue and community alive, even flying in young Rabbinic students to make up the quorum needed to conduct Jewish faith services,” she said.

“From the 1880s over two million Jews, fleeing pogroms and persecution, left Tsar Alexander II’s Russia, making their way towards the United States. A tiny number disembarked at Cobh, some say their broken English led them to think the cry of ‘Cork! Cork!’ was a call for ‘New York’.

“Most of the new arrivals started off in ‘Jewtown’ near Hibernian buildings in Albert Road with many becoming door-to-door peddlers.

“By 1939 there were almost 400 Jewish families in Cork, with an active synagogue, sports and drama teams and two football team but as they flourished, their children became educated professionals and moved abroad for greater opportunities and the chance to join larger Jewish communities,”  she added.

This permanent exhibition opens on May 26.

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