Belfast Hebrew Congregation

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Belfast Synagogue
Belfast Hebrew Congregation is located in Northern Ireland
Belfast Hebrew Congregation
Location within Northern Ireland
Basic information
Location 49 Somerton Road, Belfast, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Geographic coordinates 54°37′40″N 5°56′2″W / 54.62778°N 5.93389°W / 54.62778; -5.93389Coordinates: 54°37′40″N 5°56′2″W / 54.62778°N 5.93389°W / 54.62778; -5.93389
Affiliation Orthodox Judaism
Rite Nusach Ashkenaz
Country United Kingdom
Year consecrated 1964
Status Active
Leadership Rabbi David Singer[1]
Website Official Website
Architectural description
Architectural type Synagogue
Architectural style Modern
Completed 1967

The Belfast Hebrew Congregation is the Jewish community in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The community follows the Ashkenazi Orthodox ritual. Membership has fluctuated from 78 in 1900, approximately 1500 during World War II, about 375 after World War II, and 200 in 1999.[2] The congregation was fewer than 80 people as of January 2015.[1]


Established in 1870, first two "ministers" (rabbis) were Reverend Joseph Chotzner (serving from 1870 to 1880 and 1892 to 1897) and Rev. Jacob Myers.[3] Having immigrated in 1851, M. A. Jaffe (father of Otto Jaffe) was instrumental in founding the synagogue. Later, the position was filled by Rabbi Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog (1916–1919), who later become Chief Rabbi of Ireland and Israel, and Rabbi Jacob Shachter (translator of Zvi Hirsch Chajes), 1926–1954.

Elizabeth Jane Caulfield, the Countess of Charlemont, regularly attended the synagogue and apparently converted to Judaism there.[4]

Otto Jaffe, Lord Mayor of Belfast, was life-president of the Belfast Hebrew Congregation, which worshipped at the Great Victoria Street synagogue.


Currently located on Somerton Road, the congregation previously had the Synagogue[5] building on Annesley Street (1904–1964) and Great Victoria Street (1871–1904). (The foundation stones were dated July 7, 1871 and February 26, 1904.)

The synagogue is unusual in that it is circular, not rectangular. There is no balcony for women, but a raised platform on either side. The roof is held up by concrete-covered beams that forms the shape of a Star of David. The candelabrum and eternal light, together with bronze and silver letters adorning the Ark doors, are by Israeli sculptor, Nehemia Azaz.[6]

The synagogue has a plaque in memory of Jews killed during the Holocaust. Listed in the U K National Inventory of War Memorials, the English part of the inscription reads: "In memory of the martyred millions of European Jewry 1933–1945."[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b McKevitt, Greg (27 January 2015). "150 years of Belfast's Jewish community". BBC News. Retrieved 28 January 2015. 
  2. ^ JCR-UK 350 in 1945, 380 in 1949.
  3. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia (corrected by descendant)
  4. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia, citing: The Athenaeum, p.733, London, 1882; The Guardian, xxxvii. 801, London; The Jewish Chronicle, 2 June 1882; The Times, 1 June 1882, London.
  5. ^ Virtual Jewish History
  6. ^ Larmour, Paul (1987). Belfast: an illustrated architectural guide. Friar's Bush Press. p. 98. ISBN 0946872104. 
  7. ^ UKNIWM

On Rabbi Jacob Shachter (1886–1971) of Romania and Manchester UK, see this biography at Yashar Books.

External links[edit]