On Tuesday 16 October Northern Ireland Friends of Israel hosted Isaac Herzog to Belfast to celebrate the centenary of his father’s birth in Israel – Chaim Herzog, sixth President of Israel.
Isaac is the former head of the Israeli Labour Party and leader of the opposition in the Israeli parliament. He is the chair of the Jewish Agency, the main organisation in the Jewish world which acts as a bridge between the state of Israel and the diaspora. Isaac is named after his grandfather who was rabbi in Belfast, 1916 -19, and became chief rabbi of Israel.
Northern Ireland Friends of Israel were also proud to host in Belfast members of the Herzog family who were visiting Northern Ireland for the first time.
At a wonderful lunch at Belfast synagogue the Herzog family was presented with a portrait of the late President by the Northern Ireland based painter Rachel Quirey which will be displayed by the community.
The Lord Lieutenant of Belfast spoke movingly of the Belfast Jewish community’s contribution to the city.
The family visited the former Herzog family home in Clifton Park Avenue where President Chaim Herzog was born a century ago.
They met with the speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly and political leaders and representatives from different parties at Stormont for a roundtable discussion.
Amongst the overseas guests for the visit included the President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, the chair and chief executive of the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland, the chief executive and UK Delegate of the World Zionist Organisation, the chief executive of Limmud, UK representative of the Jewish Agency and the President of the Jewish Representative Council of the Republic of Ireland.
The ambassador of Israel, His Excellency Mark Regev, was amongst the speakers at an evening gala event at a packed Great Hall in Stormont. The host was Peter Weir MLA. The attendance included members of the Westminster Parliament, Northern Ireland Assembly, Belfast city council and senior representatives of the major church denominations.
There were performances of Israeli and Irish music and various videos illustrated the illustrious life of President Herzog.
A presentation was made to Isaac Herzog on behalf of the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem Ireland branch to mark the partnership between the ICEJ and the Jewish Agency in supporting Aliyah.
Isaac Herzog speaking at Stormont gala event
After Belfast the party travelled to Dublin and London for further events and receptions to celebrate the Herzog centenary.
Northern Ireland Friends of Israel would like to thank the following organisations for their support: Belfast Jewish community, Northern Ireland Assembly, Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jewish Leadership Council, World Zionist Organisation, Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland, Jewish Agency, Christian friends.