Jewish Africa Dublin

DUBLIN, Ireland — “I am happy to say we would be delighted to accept your kind offer to show some of your work at the Irish Jewish Museum as a temporary exhibit. The members of the committee were very impressed with your work and although we have not traditionally taken exhibits from outside Ireland, we think your work would be a very captivating and attractive addition to our display.” — February 3, 2015 email from Yvonne Altman O’Connor, Irish Jewish Museum, Dublin, Ireland.

Screenshot, Irish Jewish Museum website.

Screenshot, Irish Jewish Museum website.

It’s a small museum, and it only features a small display (25 images) at a small size (A4), but it’s a big deal (to me). I had journeyed from the opposite side of the planet to see my Jewish Africa show (on July 13 ~ September 30). It was pretty cool to see my work on show in what is a far-flung city from home in Osaka. I was also in town to give a presentation about my project. When I noted that “this is my world premier Jewish Africa photo show,” the 30 or so attendees at my presentation applauded.

I started my talk as I always do — by telling my name. “So,” I said, “a couple of weeks ago I rang up the Dolphins Barn Jewish Cemetery caretaker. I introduced myself, clarified my purpose, confirmed permission, then reiterated my name for good measure. JO-NO DA-VID, I said deliberately.”

“Right,” the Irishman said. “Sean O’David.”


They laughed.

So, for one evening, I was Sean O’David.

“I’ve got to tell you this other little thing that happened yesterday. I was sharing the breakfast table with a guy at my hostel. I knew from his accent that he was Irish, but I asked where he was from.”

“Tipperary,” he said.

“How far is that?”

“About 2.5 hours,” he replied.

“Oh, not as far as I thought,” I mused, not at all intending to be funny or more likely obnoxious about it.

They laughed again.

At my Jews of Africa photo show, Irish Jewish Museum, Dublin, Ireland.

At my Jews of Africa photo show, Irish Jewish Museum, Dublin, Ireland.

The Irish Jewish Museum (IJM) is chock-a-block with historical goodies displayed on the two floors of what was originally two adjoining terraced houses built in the 1870s. The Walworth Road Synagogue, as it was known, is situated in the heart of a once bustling Jewish quarter. Services were held there for a century before there were not enough congregants to keep it viable. In 1985, the IJM was officially opened by Irish-born former President of Israel Chaim Herzog on June 20, 1985 during his State visit to Ireland.

I was honored and thrilled for the privilege of sharing my work and story with a warm-hearted crowd in such a storied and cozy setting.

“Jewish Africa” will be coming to the Beit Hatfutsot Museum (Tel Aviv, Israel), the Jewish Museum of Australia (Melbourne), the Johannesburg Holocaust & Genocide Centre (Johannesburg, South Africa), and more — dates and details pending.

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