The Jewish community here was somewhat alarmed at a pronouncement made by General O’Duffy, who is the leader of the Blue Shirts, in which he declared that Ireland’s greatest enemies were the Communists in their midst and in the same breath associated the Jews with Communist activity. General O’Duffy, however, on being approached by the Rev. Gudansky, Dublin rabbi, retracted this statement and asserted his belief that Irish Jews were not followers of Marxian doctrine but that on the contrary made excellent law-abiding citizens.
This withdrawal was read with great relief by the community for it realized that the intensive Nazi propaganda might give an entirely erroneous impression as to the nature of any organized Jewish activity and that the identification of Jews with Communism could only have disastrous effects in a Catholic country like Ireland.
Since the political separation of this country from Great Britain, the British Board of Deputies may not interfere in matters which affect the community here. Indeed, any such interference could only be looked upon as a diplomatic “gaucherie” on the part of the Jews. The Jews here, however, have an excellent intermediary in the person of Rabbi Dr. I. Herzog, who is held in great esteem by the Government and who ### effectively by direct representation to Mr. De Valera with all matters concerning the welfare of the community.
There is one Jewish member of he Dail (the Irish Parliament), Robert Briscoe, who is very popular, as his continued success at the polls shows. He is chief whip to the Fianna Fail party and is one of the main sponsors of the Moneylenders’ Bill which he is piloting through the Dail. He is associated with a considerable amount of community activity outside the wider political sphere.
The Jews are identified with all sides of the life of the people of this country. There is a fair proportion in the Civil Service. Dr. Bethel Solomons, the famous gynae-cologist and member of a distinguished Irish-Jewish family, is Master of the Rotunda Hospital. There are as many as three Jewish lecturers at Dublin University. Jews are even to be found among the players of so national an Irish institution as the Abbey Theatre and last year Dr. Leo Kohn published a work on the Constitution of the Irish Free State which may well become a standard text book on the subject.
The separation of Ireland from the United Kingdom has brought about some interesting changes in local Jewish communal life. Apart from the non-interference, of necessity, of the British Board of Deputies, to which the important synagogues of Dublin nevertheless remain affiliated, there has actually been a change in divine service, the prayer for the King having been amended by Rabbi Dr. Herzog.
The separation too has been the cause of added burdens to the local Jewish Board of Guardians. The erection of a tariff wall between the two countries has been the cause of bringing over a number of small cabinet makers to Ireland, since the manufacture of furniture is heavily protected here. Many of these have failed to obtain employment or have frittered away their own small resources and have become dependent on the local charitable organizations. Against their immigration into Ireland there is the migration to England and the colonies of graduates in Medicine and Dentistry.