AN exhibition that pays tribute to Cork’s Jewish Community has opened with major input from a local group.
The exhibition at the city’s Cork Public Museum is entitled ‘The Tsar, the Rosehills and the Music Shop – the story of Cork’s Jewish Community 1880s to 2016.’
It is a collaboration between Dan Breen, acting curator of the museum, and Beara’s Aileen O’Connor and Theo Dahlke of Heritageworks. The duo specialise in creating exhibitions, starting with communities’ stories, and figureing out the most engaging and evocative ways to tell them, with as much broad appeal as possible.
It was opened by Oscar-nominated and Cork-born documentary maker Louis Marcus (80) whose grandfather, Louis Goldberg, arrived in Cobh around 1882 aged 14, from Imperial Russia.
From the 1880s over two million Jewish migrants, fleeing persecution, left Tsar Alexander II’s Russia, making their way towards the United States. A small number of these disembarked at Cobh, some say their broken English led them to think the cry of ‘Cork! Cork!’ was a call for ‘New York’.
Ernest Rosehill was one of these. He ran ‘E Rosehill & Sons, music stores’, selling sheet music and gramophone records on Patrick St.
Most of the newly arrived Jews started off in ‘Jewtown’ near Hibernian buildings in Cork city and by 1939 there were almost 400 Jewish families, with an active synagogue, sports and drama teams and two football teams.
However, as they flourished, their children became educated professionals and moved abroad for greater opportunities and to join larger Jewish communities, some joining the new state of Israel when it was declared in 1948.
The late Fred Rosehill, who stayed in his Cork family business when most of his peers emigrated, took on the extraordinary task of keeping the synagogue and community alive, even flying in young Rabbinic students to make up the quorum needed to conduct Jewish faith services.
The synagogue closed in early 2016, and Fred passed away later the same year.
Cork Public Museum worked closely with Fred’s daughter Claire, and Heritageworks, to design this permanent exhibition in tribute to Fred Rosehill and the Cork Hebrew Congregation of 1880 to 2016.