Last night I attended an event at the Irish Consulate that filled me with lovely memories. Deputy Consul General Jacqueline O’Halloran Bernstein was hosting an event for the Friends of the Irish Jewish Museum. I know, you’re re-reading that title. Located in Dublin, in the very neighborhood Leopold Bloom calls home, this museum tells the 150 year history of Jews in Ireland. The Board has plans to increase their facilities six-fold. The entire museum is run by very hard-working volunteers, and they have a daunting task. Building classrooms, event space, expanded exhibition space, a garden…sound familiar? Ireland mandated that the Irish school curriculum include teaching children about racial, religious, and ethnic tolerance and the museum expects to see the numbers of students increase significantly.
Ilona Moradof, MJH curator and senior project manager, accompanied me to the event. We were welcomed most warmly by the Deputy Consul General, and then proceeded to run into old friends. Rachel Gilkey, from the Irish Arts Center, Lorin Sklamberg from The Klezmatics was there with the talented Susan McKeown. They performed a great concert called Saints and Tzadiks at the MJH in 2010.NYC Comptroller John Liu was in attendance as was Paul Schaeffer, musician, composer, and conductor of the CBS Orchestra on Late Show with David Letterman.
The program featured a short but lively DVD of the museum today and what its future will be. We heard from Lord Mayor of Dublin Ben Briscoe (his dad was the first Jewish mayor of Dublin), John White, and a lovely man named Derek Enlander. Derek was describing the time he was on his honeymoon in Dublin and his wife Caron wanted to go to the Irish-Jewish Museum. It has an irregular schedule. She pounded on the doors until finally someone came to open the door. She was informed it was closed. She informed them she was here today. They let her in.
My husband and I also stopped by the Irish-Jewish Museum on our honeymoon. We, too, arrived on a day it was closed. I did not think to pound on the doors until someone came. Within a few years, perhaps they won’t have to turn a single visitor away.
Photo of the front of the museum, taken in 1995.