To be a Jew in Ireland

June 16 is Bloomsday, when followers of the great Irish writer James Joyce celebrate his life by reliving the events of his landmark novel Ulysses, all of which take place on this day in Dublin in 1904. The day - a secular holiday in Ireland - has become a popular annual celebration the world over. The name derives from the book's main character Leopold Bloom, an Irishman of Jewish ancestry. According to Malcolm Gafson, chairman of the Israel Ireland Friendship League, "In the Irish capital of Dublin, festivities can go on for weeks, especially as this is where Joyce set Ulysses, which follows the exploits of Leopold Bloom around the city and his meetings and confrontations with a wide mix of characters. However you don't have to be Irish or a Joycean to join in this Sunday evening (June 17) at the Open University in Ra'anana for a most enlightening presentation." The Israel Ireland Friendship League, in association with the Open University of Israel, will host what promises to be a fascinating evening. Guest lecturer will be Cormac O'Grada, Professor of Economics at University College, Dublin. He will speak about his highly acclaimed book Jewish Ireland in the Age of Joyce, a social and demographic history of Irish Jewry from the 19th and 20th centuries, including the rise and decline of Dublin's "Little Jerusalem." Michael Forbes, the Ambassador of Ireland, and Dr. Esther Klein-Wohl, head of the Open University's English Department, promise to attend the event, organized with the support of the Cultural Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs of Ireland. The evening will open with a reception at 7:30pm, followed by a musical performance by Kol Olam, a unique Israeli/Irish blend played on traditional instruments. The Open University of Israel, Neudorfer Auditorium, Dorothy De Rothschild Campus, Rehov Ravutski 108, Ra'anana (entrance via Ra'anana North junction). Donation: NIS 25. For information, call 050-822-1732.