GRASSROOTS FRIENDS OF ISRAEL GROUP LAUNCH YEAR OF EVENTS TO CELEBRATE BELFAST BIRTH OF FORMER ISRAELI PRESIDENT CHAIM HERZOG
Tuesday 13 March: Israel’s Ambassador to the UK, His Excellency Mark Regev, was welcomed as a VIP guest to honour the Belfast birth of former Israeli President Chaim Herzog in an event held in the Linen Hall Library.
Northern Ireland Friends of Israel (NIFI), who organised the event with the Library, donated a selection of books about Chaim Herzog and other Belfast-born men who also went on to fill important roles in the state of Israel.
Chaim Herzog, born in Belfast 1918, became Israel's sixth President in 1983, a position he held for a decade. In fact, a century ago Belfast had a future Chief Rabbi, President and Foreign Minister of Israel living in it.
Chaim's father, Isaac, was spiritual leader of the Belfast Jewish community. He later became Chief Rabbi of the Irish Free State, before being appointed Chief Rabbi of the land of Israel, perhaps the most senior position in Orthodox Judaism.
His mother, Sarah, was a community leader in her own right. She came to Belfast in 1917 as the rabbi's wife and they made home in Clifton Park Avenue in the north of the city. Israel's largest geriatric hospital is named after Sarah and she founded one of the world's largest organisations for Jewish women, Emunah.
At the same time as Chaim's birth, his future brother in law, Abba Eban, was living as a child off the Antrim Road. Eban went on to become Israel's foreign minister and deputy Prime Minister.
Northern Ireland Friends of Israel, co-chair, Steven Jaffe says: "These connections are a remarkable aspect of Belfast's Jewish and international heritage.”
Julie Andrews, Linen Hall Director, says: “We are delighted to welcome the Israeli Ambassador, His Excellency Mark Regev and members of Northern Ireland’s Jewish community to the Library to kick off this very significant year. The kind donation of books related to the event will be added to the Library’s archives.”
The Linen Hall Library is hosting a small exhibition of books and photographs relating to Chaim Herzog which will run until April 12 in the Linen Hall café.
An academic symposium is going to be held later in the year, various community based events and a gala celebration in the autumn.
For more information about the centenary visit the website www.chaimherzoginbelfast.org
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