Friday, 29 October 2021

Heritage award for film
recalling ‘Memories of
a Cork Jewish Childhood’

The former Cork Synagogue at 10 South Terrace (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

For my Friday evening reflections this evening, I am watching once again Memories of a Cork Jewish Childhood, produced by Ruti Lachs.

I have returned to this short film because it was one of the runners-up in the National Heritage Week Awards ceremony last week, and it received a special mention.

In this film, former Cork residents remember their childhoods in Ireland: their Jewish upbringing, the synagogue, the characters, the sea. Interspersed with photos from the last hundred years of life in Jewish Cork, these stories paint a picture of a time and community gone by.

It is interesting to hear members of some old Cork Jewish families speaking so fondly of life in Cork. Some, despite years of living outside of Cork, are still proud of their Cork accents.

The film is a follow-up to Ruti’s 2020 Cork Jewish Culture Virtual Walk video and webpage which also won a National Heritage Day Award. It is interspersed with photographs from the last 100 years of life in Jewish Cork, and these stories paint a picture of a time and community gone by. This can be seen on www.rutilachs.ie.

Since its release two months ago (14 August 2021), Memories of a Cork Jewish Childhood has been available to view on the Cork Heritage Open Day and Heritage Week websites as well: https://www.corkcity.ie/en/cork-heritage-open-day/ and https://www.heritageweek.ie.

This project was made possible by Cork City Council and the Heritage Plan.

A traditional Jewish blessing on children on Sabbath evenings or FRiday evenings draws on the words of the priestly blessing (see Numbers 6: 24-26) prays:

(For boys):
May you be like Ephraim and Menashe.
(For girls):
May you be like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah.
For both boys and girls:
May God bless you and protect you.
May God show you favour and be gracious to you.
May God show you kindness and grant you peace

The blessing is performed differently in every family. In some traditional homes, only the father blesses the children. In other families, both parents give blessings – either together and in unison, or first one parent, followed by the other. In some homes, the mother blesses the girls and the father blesses the boys.

Usually the person giving the blessing places one or both hands on the child’s head. Some parents bless each child in succession, working from oldest to youngest. Others bless all of the girls together, and all of the boys together.

After the blessing, some parents take a moment to whisper something to their child – praising him or her for something he or she did during the week, or conveying some extra encouragement and love.

Almost every family concludes the blessing with a kiss or a hug.

Shabbat Shalom



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