This radio documentary maps and explores Jewish Ireland, and our guide is Dubliner Stuart Rosenblatt. Stuart is the author of the 16-volume Rosenblatt Series, the most comprehensive collection of genealogical material ever compiled on an entire Jewish community in any country.
Enter the world of Jewish Ireland past and present with genealogist Stuart Rosenblatt as guide.
Stuart is the author of the 16-volume Rosenblatt Series, the most comprehensive collection of genealogical material ever compiled on an entire Jewish community in any country.
Stuart's database contains details on over 44,000 people and their family relationships. These and other facts you'd expect, and might even find elsewhere – but Rosenblatt's work usually takes a step or two further.
Rosenblatt devotes “two weeks out of every one” to this unpaid, unacknowledged work. His daughter Sonia tells us how family life has suffered. As a businessman, Stuart is first to admit it's an expensive hobby.
He got the genealogy bug fifteen years ago with a curiosity about his mother's family, the Jacksons. We discover the Jackson family had roots in a village called Ackmene, and this tiny Lithuanian village was the one most common place of origin for Irish Jews. They did not leave and arrive in Ireland en masse when their migrations began in the 1880s – no one really knows why they arrived here but their descendants give us a few clues.
So the story of Jewish Ireland is the story of a global village called Ackmene. It's a quintessentially Irish story – where everybody knows everybody else – and there are nothing like six degrees of separation. It's the story of a fast disappearing world. Rosenblatt estimates the community, those who come to Shule (Synagogue), at no more than 380 with the majority from the older generation.
Anyone can access Stuart's work in the National Archive or National Library through the 16 printed volumes of the Rosenblatt Series, which he has donated to the nation. And the work continues with Stuart desperately looking for some missing bits of his jigsaw, such as several volumes of Alien Registration Files from the start of the 20th century and details of Jewish school children in schools records all over Ireland.
Produced by Clare Cronin and funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland's Sound and Vision funding Scheme.
Production supervision by Sarah Blake
Sound supervision by Anton Timoney
First broadcast Saturday 9th October 2010
An Irish radio documentary from RTÉ Radio 1, Ireland - Documentary on One - the home of Irish radio documentaries.