"The Irish Connection"

Ramat Beit Shemesh links with Dublin Community in "Klei Kodesh" for new Modern Orthodox Synagogue

Kehillat Ahavat Tzion (KAT), a large modern orthodox community in Ramat Beit Shemesh, has created an historic link to their Rabbi's Irish heritage by incorporating into their brand new synagogue cherished klei kodesh (religious artifacts) that were once part of the magnificent Adelaide Road Synagogue in Dublin. The building, standing at the highest peak of Ramat Beit Shemesh overlooking the Judean Mountains, will be celebrating its Chanukat Habayit (consecration) ceremony during the Pesach holidays, which will include a rededication of the restored pieces from Ireland.

Consecrated in 1892, the Adelaide Road Synagogue was the first purpose-built synagogue in Ireland, costing just over 5,000 pounds sterling. Designed in an abstract Byzantine style, the two-tier structure was extended in 1925 to accommodate its 600 members, as well as to provide school facilities for Jewish children in the community. The first Chief Rabbi of both Ireland and the State of Israel, Yitzchak HaLevi Herzog, held the pulpit there for 17 years and his son, Chaim Herzog, former President of Israel, celebrated his bar mitzvah at the historic site.

Due to declining numbers, in the late 1990s the congregation decided to merge with the Terenure congregation and the building was sold, with most of the site redeveloped as offices. However, its Aron Kodesh (Torah Ark), Bimah (Torah reading platform) and pulpit, as well as other pieces of Judaica, were carefully placed in storage in the hope that one day a community with an Irish connection would be able to put them back into use.

On Erev Rosh Hashana 5768 (September 2007), KAT moved into its permanent Bet Knesset, located on Nahal Timna, the highest point in the city. Since then, the community has welcomed more members who enjoy the tuneful prayer services, cultural and learning programs, and family events. KAT's spiritual leader, Rabbi Menachem Copperman, comes from a prestigious line of Irish Jewish leaders, and his father attended services at Adelaide Road for many years. Through the family of one of its members, the community was put in touch with representatives of the Dublin Hebrew Congregation, and the "shidduch" was made.

Both communities are thrilled. "This is the epitome of Jewish continuity," says Estelle Menton, President of the Jewish Representative Council of Ireland and council member of the Dublin Hebrew Congregation. "The cherished pieces of furniture, built a century ago, have now found a new home in Eretz Yisrael. The circle has been closed. We couldn't be more pleased." The KAT community also has other connections to Adelaide Road, including one member whose grandfather was the financial secretary there for many years and honorary life vice-president, whose father celebrated his bar mitzvah in the Dublin synagogue, and who is now looking forward to his own son being called to read from the Torah from the same bimah.

The Chanukat Habayit is currently planned to take place on 29 April. It is hoped that honoured guests will include the son of Chaim Herzog z"l, Isaac Herzog, MK, Minister of Welfare and Social Services and Minister of the Diaspora, Society and the Fight Against Antisemitism.

About KAT:
Kehillat Ahavat Tzion was established Rosh Hashana 5750 (September 1999) in Ramat Bet Shemesh by a handful of Anglo olim (immigrants) with the purpose of creating a warm Kehilla (community) that could act both as a spiritual home and an extended family for its members. In its eight years of existence, KAT's membership has increased to over 80 families, including new and veteran olim as well as native Israelis. The community takes pride in being a close-knit Kehilla created for and run by its members, who are involved in every aspect of developing the Kehilla within an extensive framework of education, chessed (benevolence) and cultural services and events.

For more information about the Chanukat Habayit, or for dedication opportunities, please contact Keith Shaw (, +972-52-864-5187).