Ireland’s President visits Belfast synagogue

By Joe Cohen, February 4, 2010
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Mary McAleese with shul president Ronnie Appleton

Mary McAleese with shul president Ronnie Appleton

Mary McAleese praised the achievements of Belfast Jewry when making the first visit by an Irish President to the community’s synagogue.

Addressing 40 members, President McAleese recalled growing up in Belfast and her many Jewish friends at Belfast University. She told her audience to “never ever underestimate your influence and power. Belfast would not be what it is without the commitment of this small community, who have made a contribution to every level in the world of politics, business, arts and education.”

She highlighted former Israeli President Chaim Herzog as “a proud son of Belfast, where he was born, and also of Dublin, where he lived”.

The President, who was accompanied by her husband Dr Martin McAleese, chatted to community members before a service led by Rabbi Menachem Brackman.

“We were all im-pressed by her genuine warmth,” said chairman Michael Black.

Last updated: 4:23pm, February 4 2010