MEMBERS and friends of Ballycarry Community Association have been learning more about the Jewish community in Northern Ireland through a visit to the Belfast Synagogue.
The visit was a follow-up to the presentation by a representative of the Belfast Jewish Community at the village Festival of Remembrance last year and there was a guided tour of the synagogue by Steven Jaffe, a a member of the Board of Deputies of British Jews who lives in London but has family connections in Northern Ireland.
Mr Jaffe was born in Belfast at the time the Jewish community relocated their synagogue to north Belfast and gave an interesting and informed tour of the building as well as talking about the Jewish faith.
The visit gave members of the association the opportunity to learn more about the Jewish community in Northern Ireland, and vice chairman Rev Dr John Nelson had the opportunity to brush up on his Hebrew from student days.
Following the tour there was a wide-ranging discussion over tea with questions about the Jewish diaspora and its relationship to Israel, the impact of the holocaust and many other issues.
The group heard how many Jewish communities have now ceased to exist in parts of the Middle East, including Iraq.
Chairman of Ballycarry Community Association, Dr David Hume, said the visit was very worthwhile and informative.
“The Association is very appreciative to the Belfast Jewish Community for hosting this visit. We all learned a lot from it and hope that the links with the community will continue into the future,”
“It was most interesting to hear how the Jewish community operated a farm at Millisle in Co Down for Jewish children sent by their parents from Europe as dark clouds gathered there.
“The Millisle farm offered hope for those children and for their parents, who sent them away in the knowledge that, while they were saving their lives, they would probably never see their sons and daughters again. Tragically that turned out to be true.
“The plaque to the six million who were murdered during the Second World War at the synagogue is very poignant and it reminded us that the people of Northern Ireland can be proud of the role the Province played in the war,” he said.