Northern Ireland Friends of Israel

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NIFI welcomes Israeli diplomat to Belfast

Posted by nifriendsofisrael on 19/03/2015

rony yedidya ulster hall

In Belfast to explain the Israeli electoral system was diplomat Rony Yedidia-Clein. Rony conducted a breakfast briefing to elected representatives and NGO leaders, met MLAs at Stormont and the media. In the evening,  Rony was amongst those addressing over 600 Christian supporters who packed the Ulster Hall in Belfast for a Taste of Tabernacles – a spectacular evening of colour, music, dance and worship. Rony delivered a message of thanks from Israel’s president, Ruvi Rivlin, to the director of the Irish branch of the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem, Brian Silvester, in tribute to his years of dedicated friendship towards Israel and the Jewish people, and for the amazing work of the branch.

rony at breakfast 2015, elected reps

Rony breakfast 2015

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Israel goes to the polls – on St Patricks Day.

Posted by nifriendsofisrael on 05/03/2015

Who will lead Israel after the 17 March general election?

Benjamin Netanyahu, whose brother Jonathan was named after Irishman, Colonel John Patterson, whose wife was from Belfast?

Netanyahu speaking last year at the reinterment in Israel of the remains of Colonel John Patterson and his Belfast-born wife, Frances Helena Gray.

Or Isaac Herzog, whose father was born in Belfast and whose grandfather served as rabbi to the Belfast Jewish community?

Herzog accepts the Belfast coat of arms from NIFI’s then co chair, Terry McCorran.

Israel the only multi party democracy and free country in the Middle East – where the people decide.

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Northern Ireland Friends of Israel – welcome to our Website!

Posted by nifriendsofisrael on 04/03/2015

Shalom from Northern Ireland Friends of Israel! Launched in March 2009, over 650 supporters have joined our mailing list and over 6,500 people have attended our events! We have fostered strong ties between Northern Ireland and Israel and promote understanding between the peoples of both countries. Belfast___060509_073 First and Deputy First Ministers We were honoured to host the ambassador of Israel, HE Ron Prosor, in Belfast (seen above, meeting First Minister, Peter Robinson, and Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness). We wish to promote positive engagement with all those who seek a just and lasting peace between Israel and its neighbours.


NIFI is on Facebook


Please click on the headings in blue to look at the following:

About: our Mission Statement launched in May 2009.

Israel news in Northern Ireland - “two wee countries separated by a continent!”, amazing stories of strengthening cultural, economic and political connections between Northern Ireland and Israel

Members contributions are their own and may not in all cases reflect the views of NIFI. Articles published are owned by the person who wrote them and are not the views of the site’s editors, contributors, or other commenters.

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Holocaust Memorial Day in Northern Ireland 2015 – 70 years since the Liberation of Auschwitz

Posted by nifriendsofisrael on 25/01/2015

Our photo shows a photograph display for Holocaust Memorial Day at the Waterside library on Glendermott Road. The exhibition is produced by Yad Vashem, the international Holocaust museum and research centre based in Jerusalem.The title of the exhibition is “But The Story Didn’t End That Way…”. It will be running until January 30th.
It is an exhibition of 18 posters which tell the story of German Jewry from the Weimar Republic through the late 1930’s. The posters are arranged in chronological order and allow the observer to understand the process by which anti-Jewish policy in the German Reich was crystallized, reaching a peak in the vast pogrom of November 9-10 1938.

Check the list for Holocaust Memorial day events across Northern Ireland here

Waterside library HMD

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Tribute to Paris dead

Posted by nifriendsofisrael on 13/01/2015

Tributes paid in Israel for those slain in Paris, including the four Jews out shopping for Shabbat at a kosher shop – all being buried in Jerusalem today. NIFI extends the condolences of its supporters to their families and friends.

Tributes in Israel

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Israeli goods go to a good cause

Posted by nifriendsofisrael on 22/12/2014

IsrACTION Day – a day for buying Israeli products and donating them to good causes across the UK and Ireland. NIFI is proud to donate Israeli goods to Adullam church in Belfast’s inner city for its “Hope on the Streets” initiative, which has for a number of years been distributing warm clothes and food to those in need on the streets. NIFI is proud to play its part. Photos show Sharon Lough, the church’s Pastor Paul Burns and lots of goods from Israel being donated.

NIFI wishes its supporters chag Chanuka sameach for those who celebrate Chanuka, Merry Christmas to those who celebrate Christmas, and a happy and peaceful new year to all our supporters in Northern Ireland, Israel and around the world.

Israction basket

Israction 2015


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Holocaust Education Trust Ireland – message from Dr Denis MacEoin

Posted by nifriendsofisrael on 19/12/2014

FAO Irish Holocaust Education Trust

Denis Maceoin

Dear Sirs,

Some of you may have known or heard of the late Helen Lewis MBE, a Holocaust survivor who found refuge after the war in Belfast, where she found a new husband and brought a young family into the world. In later life, she was awarded the MBE for her services to dance in Ulster, and she wrote, after many years, the story of her time in Terezin and other camps. One of her two sons, Michael, was in my class at RBAI, and her younger son was in my brother’s class. I got to know her in my teens when I studied at the Lyric Theatre’s drama school (run by Mary O’Malley), where she was our dance teacher. A dynamic, strong, determined yet deeply kind woman, she was the first truly formative presence in my life then. I have not forgotten the moment when, getting down to work, she rolled up her sleeves and I caught sight of the numbers tattooed there. I knew what they meant and that she had been in a concentration camp, but back in those days she never spoke openly of her experiences.

Read the rest of this entry »

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First Minister briefed in Brussels

Posted by nifriendsofisrael on 13/11/2014

Important briefing: Northern Ireland’s First Minister, Peter Robinson, learns about EU funding which benefits Hamas. Mr Robison is shown here meeting Alex Benjamin, political director of the European Friends of Israel. Alex was a founding supporter of Northern Ireland Friends of Israel. Here he presents Mr Robinson with the book: Hamas Terror Tunnels – Paid for by the EU?

Peter Robinson Gaza Brussels

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Treating Trauma in Northern Ireland and Israel

Posted by nifriendsofisrael on 29/09/2014

“One of the most moving experiences of my life”, says Northern Ireland Assembly member, Michael Copeland MLA about his recent visit to Israel. Michael brought with him a small group of sufferers and counsellors dealing with Post Traumatic stress disorder to see the world-famous Trauma centres of Israel at work. Early diagnosis and a dedication to turn negatives into positives were two lessons the group brought back home with them. Michael says, “we met a tremendous cross section of the kaleidoscope which is Israeli society, including Israeli Jews, Palestinian Arabs, Arabs who are Israeli citizens, Bedouins, Muslims and Christians”. You can read an interview with Michael and group members here. Our photo shows Michael with the former Mayor of Sderot, David Bouskilla, during the latter’s visit to Stormont when the conversation quickly turned to trauma treatment in both countries.

Michael Copeland and Mayor Sderot

Michael Copeland, a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, recalls a recent protest near his office in Belfast during Operation Protective Edge. “There was civil disorder, with people waving Palestinian and Israeli flags.” He also recalls how Israeli goods were removed from stores, one of many vignettes of how the conflict played itself out in Europe. “The world’s press does not do Israel great justice,” Copeland notes. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Herzogs of North Belfast – say no to deleting our unique Jewish heritage in North Belfast

Posted by nifriendsofisrael on 14/08/2014

Sarah Herzog 1899-1979 –  185 Cliftonpark Avenue (marked by a blue plaque as the birthplace of Chaim Herzog, president of Israel).

In August 2014 the plaque was removed from the building following a spate of anti-Semitic attacks.






If she’s remembered at all in Belfast, it’s as the mother of Chaim Herzog, president of Israel, born on Cliftonpark Avenue in 1918. But Sarah Herzog was an important personality in her own right.
Her son, Chaim, described her as “clearly the dominant individual at home. She was very pretty and gracious and, although petite, almost regal in her demeanour. Wherever her home was, it was a centre of grace and culture and, later, in Israel, a magnet for the Jewish community from around the world.”
Sarah Herzog was a prominent figure in the development of the leading geriatric and psychiatric hospital in the Middle East, which is named after her – the Sarah Herzog Memorial hospital in Jerusalem.  She would head the women’s division of a political party. She was awarded two honorary doctorates and was an accomplished speaker – in English and in Hebrew.
Sarah’s communal responsibilities were to begin in Belfast when in 1917 – still in her teens – she married the Belfast rabbi, Isaac Herzog. It was in Belfast where she first assumed the title of rebbetzin, the designation of a rabbi’s wife, and took on pastoral and charitable responsibilities. Born in Riga (Latvia) in 1899, to a distinguished rabbinical family, she was brought up in London. Her husband was destined to become the first chief rabbi of the Irish Free State and then, from 1936, chief rabbi of the Holy Land.
In 1977, Sarah Herzog became the founding president of World Emunah, a Jewish women’s organisation which today has 180,000 women as members from almost 30 different countries. As she had been widowed for almost 20 years by that time, Sarah didn’t owe this appointment to the status of her husband.
Emunah is one of the largest social providers in Israel, and has helped absorb Holocaust survivors and over 800,000 Jewish refugees from Arab lands. Emunah’s many projects include two named after Sarah:  Neve Sarah Herzog, in Bnei Brak, which brings educational and employment opportunities to religious Jewish women; and the Sarah Herzog Children’s Home in Afula, in northern Israel, which provides a residential home to over 90 children who are unable to live with their families.
In the years that she lived in Belfast (1917-1919), Sarah Herzog’s principal task was to bring order to the home of the rabbi. Isaac was an outstanding Jewish scholar, but very unworldly. The community paid him a weekly salary in cash on a Friday morning. He was often left peniless by the onset of the Sabbath on Friday evening. His generosity attracted every hard up case, from within and outside the Jewish community. Never refusing anyone, the rabbi was left unable to pay his own rent. Following marriage, it was at Sarah’s insistance he was paid by cheque and all charitable cheques had to be signed by both of them!
On the morning he was sworn in as president of Israel in 1983, Chaim crossed Jerusalem to pray at the graves of his father and mother, and reflected: ” my mother continued on as a grande dame, even as she lost her husband and her younger son. She was fully in charge of her senses and clever to the very end. She had been offered – several times – the opportunity to run for the Knesset (Israeli parliament)…She devoted her life to Israel – starting schools, helping immigrants and setting up the largest mental and geriatric hospital in the Middle East. As I stood by their graves, I so wished they could have witnessed this day.”  Sarah Herzog’s remarkable record of communal activism flourished in later life in Israel, but the seeds were sown as a young rabbi’s wife in north Belfast.

Steven Jaffe

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