Edited By Lucyna Aleksandrowicz-Pędich and Jacek Partyka
Ireland’s Jewish Identity Crisis
An identity in crisis is not incoherent nor episodic, but is an inescapable experience of modern life …
Ken Koltun-Fromm (9)
Whatever its context, Jewish identity is widely recognized to be a notoriously complex and often tortured matter. This is no less the case in a small country such as Ireland which up to recently has had a largely monolithic national culture and sense of identity. Even though Ireland has become increasingly cosmopolitan in recent years, its ethnic and religious minorities, especially the smaller ones, continue to be stranded on the margins of Irish society and culture notwithstanding sometimes considerable contributions to various areas of national life (Goldstone, “Reflections” 108).1 This is very much the case for one of Ireland’s oldest minorities, the Jewish community.
This paper investigates the impact of Ireland’s national, political and cultural milieu on the Jewish sense of identity and belonging. The paper opens with a thumbnail sketch of Irish-Jewish history and the relationship of Jews with Irish culture and politics. We then move on to explore the way in which these issues have influenced Jewish identity construction in Ireland, focusing mainly on how articulations of Irish-Jewish identity have evolved since 1945 with relation to a number of key questions. Can there really be such a thing as Irish-Jewish identity and, if so, how can we classify it? Why has it been necessary continually to define and reiterate the nature of Irish-Jewish identity over the years? What purpose...
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