by yanky fachler
With both the South African and Irish Jewish communities being predominantly Litvak in origin, Yanky Fachler explores the commonalities between these two communities.
If my Litvak great-grandfather Jacob Becker, after whom I am named, had not spent a year in Pretoria in the late 19th century and not brought back to Lithuania a pocketful of South African passports, my grandfather, Sam Becker, would have been unable to use his South African passport to escape from Nazi Germany for Britain prior to World War II. As a result, I lived in England for the first 25 years of my life. I then lived in Israel for the next 25 years. Moving to Ireland a quarter of a century ago suddenly made me mindful of my own – and Ireland’s – Litvak heritage. When I was researching my book, Kaleidoscope: Key characters who helped shape the Irish-Jewish community , something that Dublin-born Max Nurock, a former Israeli ambassador to Australia and New Zealand, once said resonated. Nurock had stated that “Ireland’s Jews are a community founded largely by an incomparable generation of Litvak pioneers.”
"No other Jewish community in the world mirrors the South African community more than Ireland’s Jewish community. The size of the two communities as they evolved might be very different, but the essential Litvak nature of both communities has led to striking parallels".