Varadkar Zooms in for Dublin discussion with Jewish community

Taoiseach talks about crisis and says he looks forward to returning to Israel soon


Members of the Dublin community enjoyed a virtual audience with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as part of its cultural programme during the lockdown.

“At the outset of the crisis, we felt the community should have a major boost to keep spirits up,” said Jewish Representative Council of Ireland chair Maurice Cohen.

“We simply asked whether the Taoiseach would be willing to hop into a Zoom meeting if he could find the time.

“I was told that if he could, it would just be for five-to-ten minutes. In fact, he chatted for over half-an-hour. We concentrated on both the situation we all find ourselves in and when he thought it would be over.”

The other major topic was the possible formation of the next government following the inconclusive election in February.

During the Q&A, Mr Varadkar said he had been to Israel twice and looked forward to returning in the near future.

Board of Deputies president and chief executive, respectively Marie van der Zyl and Gillian Merron, have also been guests on the online programme, established to combat isolation and loneliness among community members.

Other offerings have included morning yoga sessions, a book club, Ivrit lessons and historical talks on subjects of Jewish and Irish interest.

The city’s shuls have also increased their online provision.

Mr Cohen added that at the outset of the crisis, an appeal for volunteers was answered “immediately and overwhelmingly. We also arranged training for these volunteers, who engage with the elderly and needy.

“Shopping has been organised for those unable to travel to the stores and the volunteering efforts have been aided by the new shlichim in the community.

“We have also set up an emergency support email and phone-line for anyone needing assistance in any way.”

Kosher supplies were being maintained.

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