January 11, 2015Reminding Myself of the Priorities
Coffees and Jews in Dublin: Wednesday 5 August 2015 (Day 73)
11:50 am Wednesday 5 August – Kaph
A lot – Dublin reminds me of Melbourne a lot. Maybe because they are both river cities with dubious weather. But they have Sydney’s pedestrian-crossing system, though, same buttons, same sound – which is strange.
This is the café suggested by Baz – it is not like Melbourne. They call a macchiato and ‘noisette’ (I guess it’s the French name for the same thing) and it’s meh – a little thin and bitter. So, the bitter is like Melbourne but … you know, not so nice. (The music is good, though).
Speaking of Melbourne … Laura2 will arrive in Chicago the day after me. TOTALLY STOKED. I’m now looking forward to Chicago. And Dave has asked when I’ll be in New York City. I thought he was off to Istanbul. So some plans for America are falling into place.
3pm – Joe’s Coffee (after the Irish Jewish Museum)
It rains, it stops raining. It’s windy. Or not. The sun shines. Or doesn’t.
When I arrived at the Irish Jewish Museum the first person who greeted me called me sir then excused his error by noting I was wearing trousers.
He proceeded with his spiel until I was, eventually, rescued by Jason – who was embarrassed for the other fellow and apologised.
He showed me around the old synagogue portion of the museum and we had an interesting and lengthy chat. They don’t get a lot of visitors.
Which is a pity as the museum is actually quite interesting. I learned that Sephardi Jews (those from the Iberian Peninsula) settled in Ireland in 1497 – following expulsion from Portugal. Though there are records of Jews in Ireland even earlier – back to a first reference in 1079. More recently, in the 18th and 19th centuries, whole communities were fleeing Eastern Europe and some settled here in Dublin.
Each group set up their own little prayer room. Eventually a rabbi came from Belfast to bring the community together. That was Rabbi Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog, who was Chief Rabbi of Ireland from 1919-1937 before going on to fill the same role in Israel. (Rabbi Herzog, by the way, was a fluent speaker of Irish.) He was the father of Chaim Herzog, the 6th president of Israel, who was born in Belfast and, Jason asserted, spoke English with an Irish accent (though I’ve listened to some clips and don’t really hear it).
He showed me a mantel, or covering for the Torah, made from a material from a wedding dress and other bits and pieces. A fabric scholar had looked at it and was able to identify different parts of the old Yiddish homelands the various bits came from.
He said the synagogue, which was cobbled together from the upstairs rooms of adjoining houses, had operated until … I think the 1970s or so. “One day the rabbi turned up and there were only 9 men – he locked the door and that was that. Jason imagines him saying: Feck it. If they can’t bother to turn up neither can I.
We had a long chat, Jason and I, about this and that including that six new synagogues have recently opened in Indonesia. He said these are for Christians who have converted. That they had found greater truth in the Old Testament than the New and went to the source. Now some rabbis are going there to teach. I haven’t found a lot about it on line, but there is this one article.
11:20 pm – Abbey Court Hostel
Seagulls – the sound of them, I can hear them here in the hostel.
I visited the Little Museum of Dublin – which is a quirky fun museum full of objects donated by Dubliners. You see it with a guide who tells the story in a loud, theatrical, not-as-funny-as-he- imagines way. He was sort of red in the face and too big for the room.
There was a special exhibition on about U2 and, frankly, it was crap. One small room, only a few artifacts. The Making of Midnight Oil exhibition doing the rounds of Australia shat all over it.
For dinner, I met up with my friend Tom, last seen in Paris. He’s here working at the Greenpeace International meeting. We went to a place that sounded good on line, and was – I had the corned beef with mashed potatoes and beet root. It was a huge serve and very very tasty, indeed.
Afterwards we walked back into the city centre before going our separate ways. I looked around for someplace to have a drink but nothing makes me feel lonely quite so much as trying to find a bar I want to go into, on my own, at night.
So, I just walked around some for a while instead.