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New York Jews Rescued Irish in Great Famine

The rabbi encouraged his flock to “take measures for the relief of the famishing thousands of their fellow mortals in that unfortunate and destitute country, Ireland."

The Great Famine Memorial in Dublin

The Great Famine Memorial in Dublin

The Jewish Press readers have grown accustomed to nothing but bad news coming out of Irish sources recently regarding Israel, as Ireland joins with the most fiercely pro-Palestinian forces in the EU in a call to boycott the Jewish state. Which is why it’s been such a surprising pleasure to read notes of gratitude in The Irish Voice recently, regarding a previously unknown act of kindness by the Jewish community in New York, which sent relief for the Irish Famine of 1846.

When former Irish President Mary McAleese visited New York a few years ago, she attended a ceremony at the Congregation Shearith Israel marking the generosity of New York Jews towards the people of Ireland during the Great Hunger.

While people in Ireland were dying by the day because the potato crop failed in 1846, The Irish Voice reported, a Jewish rabbi in New York reached out to his community and raised a substantial sum of money to help the Irish. “The money raised was in the $1,000 range, close to $82,000 in today’s money.”

A newspaper report of the time said New York had contributed as much as $80,000 in total, and claimed that this was “about the same sum that has been contributed at home from all the wealthy classes of Ireland to the Central Relief Committee for all Ireland.”

“Rabbi Jacques Judah Lyons held a meeting in his synagogue in Crosby Street, in lower Manhattan, on March 8, 1847, to gather financial support to help raise funds for Irish Famine relief,” writes the Voice. According to records of the meeting, Lyons told his congregation that its purpose was to “take measures for the relief of the famishing thousands of their fellow mortals in that unfortunate and destitute country, Ireland.”

Rabbi Chaim Angel of the Congregation Shearith Israel, at West 70th Street in Manhattan, told the Irish Voice that Rabbi Lyons “applied the teachings of the Torah when he reached out and helped the people of Ireland during their toughest era.”

Money was also raised by Temple Shaaray Tefila and an individual contribution of $500 was given by banker August Belmont (founder of Belmont Racetrack).

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32 Responses to “New York Jews Rescued Irish in Great Famine”

  1. 1846 is the year the british created the false treaty of peace with khalsa empire to sell the nation of sikhs cheap and make profit out of it under east india company charter to trade with india.

  2. This is reason enough for the Irish to refrain from being anti-semitic, seems their memory is only as long as those things they chose to remember.

  3. Lee Smith says:

    today the drunken Irish would get nothing because they are so stupid and bigoted.

  4. Sara Weiner says:

    This is so true– yet we are hated the world over….

  5. the irish are the worst anti-semites. they loved the nazis and welcomed them. now they love the bizarre muslim death cult. anything anti-semitic gets a thumbs up. no Jew should ever set foot in ireland, providing these Jew haters with tourist dollars.

  6. Yechiel Baum says:

    Judith writes the correct version of history. Our donations to Ireland should be refunded in full. Don't also forget they also allied themselves with Ghaddafi too and then we vioted these gansters into office. They are also notorious for breaking the law as they ran stills during the 1920's prohibition since their need to get drunk overshadowed the law. Is thisin their religious.

  7. Paddy O Farrell says:

    The Irish are not anti-Semitic. Vivienne you`re tarnishing a whole country for the actions of a few.

  8. Paddy O Farrell says:

    Disgusting racism from you Judith, you should be ashamed of yourself.

  9. Paddy O Farrell says:

    The racist comments on this article are absolutely disgraceful.

  10. setanta says:

    Well said, Jewish Press. How’s that for a stereotypical Jewish person – progressive, enlightened, humanitarian and helping people he/she doesn’t have to. Some favours are never forgotten – and one good turn deserves another.

  11. setanta says:

    We need to acknowledge the overwhelmingly positive contribution of our Jewish compatriots to Ireland both before and after independence – and indeed to this day. And yes – let’s be honest – we have been sorely lacking in this regard. For a country supposedly obsessed with history we need to study the reality a bit more.

  12. Steve Yeger says:

    This is so disapointing. I always loved the Irish and identified with them. I will never understand that segment of Irish society that hates Jews. However, the Jewish community should never imitate their persecutors in any way. Stereotyping is for the stupid who can't understand the complexity of human nature. Grouping people by race or nationality is just simplifying the world for stupidity. I really need to write that book on the Dublin nine

  13. Oh, is there even any point in posting here? Will this even get approved by the moderator? My comments will be drowned out anyway by voices of bitterness. I'm a full time carer looking after an elderly relative. I have only a few hours free per week and I'm not exactly flush with cash either. Yet today, I used a sizeable proportion of those free hours to go and buy over $30 worth of Israeli goods – and I'm far from being the only one doing it – because it's Support Israeli Products Week in this crazy anti-semitic country called Ireland where everyone hates Jews.

    With regard to the story, it's excellent that such acts of generosity have not been forgotten. I doubt that those Jewish people in 19th century New York had much money; yet they chose to get by with less so that others might simply have a chance of getting by. Their heroism and humanity shines above the ages.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I was brought up in a low income, mixed neighborhood in NYC. Unfortunately, there were more Pat Buchanans and Mel Gibsons than there were Paddy O Farrells and Ciarán Ó Raghallaighs.

  15. Thank you Ciaran for your support of Israel in buying Israeli produce. Actions always speak louder than words. Please do not be defeated by the angry words of some of the contributors. Whilst I have every empathy for their feelings – Israel is the Jew among the nations – we need the support of all good people. People, like yourself and Paddy, who are not swept up in the tide of ignorance, hate and insecurity that is the cement that binds groups together. Neither must we brand the whole of the Irish society with being anti-Semitic. The Irish are made up of individuals, the same as any nation. What is important, is to encourage more people like yourselves to speak out through the media. Only in this way will the propaganda war that we are involved in be won.

    Remember the famous words 'for evil to triumph, it only needs good men to do nothing'.

  16. Just wanted to add to my comment; the quote I gave is attributed to the 18th century Irish Political Philosopher Edmund Burke – although there is disagreement as to whether he actually said this. Nevertheless, it is a very apt saying.

  17. Unfortunately, that is the case for almost anywhere. It is a gift fromG_d to find a neighbor of good will, … or to be one yourself.

  18. How did the Irish react to the Holocaust?

  19. Jae Z Zavodskoizavoiskov says:

    Aussies Are Just As Bad For It Too Sara I Should Know Ive Had My Fair Share Of Racial Abuse Its Not The Luck Country At All It Is More So Nationalist And Socialist Just Like Hitlers Germany Heres A Link On The Hatred Of The Aussies And Kiwis Racial Mentality http://www.fightdemback.org/ People Have Tried Too Close It Down But Haven't Prevailed As I Know Of It.

  20. Matt McLaughlin says:

    'when the jews came to scotland' says jews help confiscate ulster from the native irish.2)balfour vs ireland just before he brought his magic to palestine-paris 1919.

  21. Matt McLaughlin says:

    go f yourself vivienne. 800 years of being kicked to their grave and you piss&whine over 16 years of nazi rule.

  22. Matt McLaughlin says:

    ever wonder how the walls of derry ended up surrounding Jerusalem, einstein?

  23. Matt McLaughlin says:

    go build more walls a-hole/zionist bitch.

  24. Man, you are posting such a load of nonsense. Have you ever considered being more than just an adolescent-type troll.

  25. Sylvie Schapira , thanks for the worlds of encouragement, Syliva. I think the internet always attracts the most hardline people. Actions are important; words are too. The Israel haters never miss an opportunity to attack the country in the letter columns. Here, we used to just write letters to reply to them; being reactive and defensive. Lately, I've been writing letters to newspapers here about Jewish refugees expelled from Arab and Islamic countries. It's an issue no-one ever talks about and taking the initiative on something like this is so much better than just waiting around for the Israel-haters to write something.

  26. Paddy O Farrell says:

    I think old Matt likes his conspiracies theories.

  27. Paddy O Farrell says:

    "He says for many of the older generation of Jews, like his parents, there was a growing sense of paranoia: "My mother said there were only two types of people in the world. Jews and Jew-haters.

    "Of course, when Cable Street came along the Irish labourers and dockers came out and it was them that really made sure Mosley didn't get through.

    Running battles
    "My mother and father really had to change their minds after that and accept that others did come to help us out."

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-15171772

  28. Paddy O Farrell says:

    "He says for many of the older generation of Jews, like his parents, there was a growing sense of paranoia: "My mother said there were only two types of people in the world. Jews and Jew-haters.

    "Of course, when Cable Street came along the Irish labourers and dockers came out and it was them that really made sure Mosley didn't get through.

    Running battles
    "My mother and father really had to change their minds after that and accept that others did come to help us out."

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-15171772

  29. Paddy O Farrell says:

    “I was moved to tears to see bearded Jews and Irish Catholic dockers standing up to stop Mosley. I shall never forget that as long as I live, how working-class people could get together to oppose the evil of racism.”.

    http://comeheretome.com/2011/06/12/manchester-calling-3-the-battle-of-cable-street/

  30. Check your history bub, then you won't sound so ignorant!!

  31. Anonymous says:

    I would like to list my qualifications to respond to statements made concerning historical events that have negatively influenced Jewish-Irish relationships during the modern era:
    1. If my Polish Jewish grandfather had not brought his family to America at the beginning of the 20th century, I would have been a prime candidate for Hitler’s ovens.
    2. At the age of about 8, I was chased down the street by a Catholic kid with a knife, calling me a ”Christ Killer”, in front of Holy Cross Catholic Church.
    3. For over 10 years I was an active member of the Alliance for the Study of the Holocaust & Genocide, Sonoma State University, California. We created a one semester lecture series course, which now has a yearly attendance of about 100 students.

    The people of newly created Irish Free State, because of centuries of oppression, hated the British more than they hated the Nazis. Do not forget – the Catholic Church was on Hitler’s hit list, after Jews and Gypsies. Pope Pius knew that Hitler held Germany’s Catholic and Protestant churches hostage. His silence probably saved human lives. Auschwitz and Dachau were filled with Christian Clergy “enemies of the state”. Prior to WWII, the Nazis were wooing the Irish with all sorts of political promises to allow them to establish submarine bases on the Irish coast. The Irish held fast to their neutrality, and said ,”No”(I don’t think they wanted to get bombed?).

    “Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend”. All through the 1930’s, who was the physical enemy of the embryonic state of Israel? Answer: the British Government, with the exception of Winston Churchill. He kept calling for rearmament against that “maniac in Europe”. The British 19th century, outdated faith in the Suez Canal as a military necessity (Lindberg flew the Atlantic, 1927; WWII, 1939; Pearl Harbor, sinking of the Ark Royal, loss of India and Pacific territories, 1941 +)was an"albatross around their neck">.

    Instead of Kowtowing to the Arabs, if the British would have allowed unlimited immigration to the then Palestine Mandate, when Hitler offered it, there would not have been WWII. Can you imagine what Hitler would have done looking down the map at a 3 million well trained and equipped Jewish army, itching to drive up the “soft underbelly of Europe”(Churchill’s description) to “clean his clock”. If he would have continued in his suicidal rampage, his Generals, led by Beck would have taken care of him.

    So I say to my Irish friends, You have a historical beef with the British; the Jewish people have a historical beef with the British. Ireland won its freedom from Britain; Israel won its freedom from Britain. That makes a permanent bond of freedom between the Irish and Jewish people! False ideology and politics can not destroy it!
    Eugene M. Kravis

  32. Paddy O Farrell says:

    Thank you Eugene, we have far more in common than some people would have us believe. Irish Republicans helped train the great Ze`ev Jabotinski in guerrilla warfare tactics. Also when most of Europe were persecuting the Jews Eamonn De Valera insisted that protection was given to the Jewish people in the Irish constitution.

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