TIMELINE: Jewish St. Patrick’s Day Ties
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TIMELINE: Jewish St. Patrick’s Day Ties

Irish kiddush cup
Saint Patrick’s Day isn’t Jewish. The holiday’s namesake brought Christianity to Ireland in the 5th century and supposedly used the shamrock as a visual teaching aid to explain the trinity. But an Irish president of Israel watched a St. Paddy’s Day parade. So did the first Jewish mayor of Ireland. A timeline toast to intriguing Jewish-Irish connections in the JTA archive:

  • 1897: Charles A. Levine, the first passenger on a transatlantic flight, is born on St. Patrick’s Day in Mass.
  • 1926: Hazamir chorale of Newark performs in St. Patrick’s Day concert for a Masonic lodge in New York City.
  • 1927: Russian nobleman arrested for attempting to incite a pogrom on St. Patrick’s Day — in New York.
  • 1934: Rabbi Dr. Bernard Heller, director of the University of Michigan Hillel, refers to Saint Patrick as “the Moses of the Irish” at a St. Patrick’s Day dinner of a local church.
  • 1935: Polish-American state senator Stephen J. Wojtkowiak sponsors a resolution to make St. Patrick’s Day a legal holiday in New York. A London Daily Telegraph editorial column notes that a Jewish lads’ brigade won the junior bagpipe championships in Glasgow, and jokes that about a Jewish connection to the Archbishop of Canterbury.
  • 1942: Nazi radio broadcast in Berlin spreads false rumors about St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York turning into a huge anti-Jewish demonstration.
  • 1956: Robert “Bob” Briscoe, son of Lithuanian-Jewish immigrants, is elected mayor of Dublin. Briscoe accepts the numerous invitations to attend the New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
  • 1957: Leaving New York City for the Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade — and to keynote the opening meeting of the Boston Combined Jewish Appeal — Dublin mayor Briscoe begins twelve-city tour of the U.S. for the UJA to raise money for various campaigns and causes.
  • 1962: National Council of Young Israel adopts resolution asking for an Israel Independence Day parade down New York’s Fifth Avenue similar to the St. Patrick’s Day parade.
  • 1963: While agreeing with a U.S. Supreme Court decision to ban prayer in public schools, Connecticut attorney general issues lengthy ruling explaining “that we should mention celebrations which presently take place in our schools on days or periods which also have a religious meaning to certain groups of our people, for example, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Chanukah, Passover and St. Patrick’s Day.””
  • 1969: When Purim and St. Patrick’s Day fall out on the same date, Irish Jews in New York’s ‘Yiddish Sons of Erin’ find two reasons to celebrate.
  • 1976: Dublin-born Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Chaim Herzog — whose father served as Chief Rabbi of Eire and later Palestine — is seated on the reviewing stand at the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York.
  • 1978: Gerald Y. Goldberg, first Jewish Lord Mayor of Cork, Ireland is, like Dublin’s Briscoe, the son of Lithuanian-Jewish immigrants. Goldberg is slated to partake in St. Patrick’s Day events in both New York and Ireland.
  • 1980: Tel Aviv mayor Shlomo Lahat inducted into ‘Loyal Yiddish Sons of Erin,’ is a guest of honor in New York’s St. Patrick’s Day parade.
  • 1983: Herzog draws attention from his native Ireland upon being elected president of Israel.
  • 1993: A gay and lesbian congregation is asked not to march with a banner in an Israel Day Parade, echoing a controversy from the St. Patrick’s Day parade earlier in the year.