The community in Northern Ireland is to make its mark on the cultural calendar with a series of events to raise awareness of Judaism.
Belfast’s Lord Mayor Councillor Naomi Long and the Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure, Nelson McCausland were among 70 guests who attended Belfast Hebrew Congregation for Tuesday’s launch of “Jews Schmooze”.
Mr McCausland said: “I am delighted to show my support for Jews Schmooze and the invaluable work that the Belfast Jewish community and others undertake to build awareness and understanding of Jewish culture in the wider community.”
Jews Schmooze co-ordinator Katy Radford said: “ Since the 1800s, the Jewish community in the north has fed into cultural and educational vibrancy here, establishing schools and theatres and sponsoring arts events. Jews Schmooze is an opportunity for the community to continue that work and its commitment to partnering with other communities, to promote cultural diversity and deter racism and antisemitism.”
Forthcoming events include a musical evening featuring Los Desterrados, who will play a concert of Sephardic music as part of the Belfast Festival at Queen’s University. Belfast Synagogue will host a “Jewish Way of Life” exhibition, as well as performances of a new play, This is what we sang, by Dubliner Gavin Kostick. The drama was developed from oral history gathered from existing and former members of Belfast’s Jewish community.
There will also be a screening of the film Circumcise Me, about the life of American stand-up Israel Campbell Hochstein, who converted from Catholicism to Orthodox Judaism. Following the film, comedian Dave Schneider will engage in a discussion about cultural identity with documentary maker and journalist Matthew Kalman.
Those attending the launch included representatives from the Board of Deputies. The initiative was funded by The Racial Equality Unit at the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister, Belfast City Council and the Board of Deputies.