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Northern Ireland Protocol puts Belfast’s Jewish community under threat


Action: Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and others met with SoS Brandon Lewis

Action: Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and others met with SoS Brandon Lewis

Action: Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and others met with SoS Brandon Lewis

The Jewish community in Belfast could “collapse” due to disruption caused by the Northern Ireland Protocol, it has been warned.

Under the protocol, which was designed to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland, Northern Ireland continues to follow EU trade rules. This has created a de facto trade border down the Irish Sea and resulted in increased checks on some goods moving into NI from GB.

This includes kosher food, which supply of has continued under interim trade arrangements, which are due to end in September.

Northern Ireland has a small Jewish community centred around north Belfast. Jews only consume kosher foods  foods that comply with dietary guidelines set by traditional Jewish law.

On Tuesday, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, Reverend David Kale and Michael Black of the Belfast Jewish community, along with the President of the Jewish Board of Deputies, Marie van der Zyl, met with Secretary of State Brandon Lewis to urge the Government to take action to avoid the protocol “potentially ending Jewish life in Belfast”.

The Belfast Jewish community representatives said once kosher food and religious artefacts cannot be supplied by GB, the community here is “likely to collapse”. They said Mr Lewis, as well as Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Brexit negotiator Lord Frost, have pledge their support to ensure the arrangements continue after September.

Marie van der Zyl said: “The Belfast Jewish community is a great community with a rich history, but also an older and vulnerable one. We thank the Minister for his time and urge the UK and the EU to generate a creative solution which means that Jews can continue to practise their faith in Northern Ireland.”

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According to the Board of Deputies of British Jews, importing kosher goods from Dublin the only other Jewish community on the island of Ireland — has been considered, however cost is too prohibitive. This issue was previously raised back in March, when it was reported the Jewish community here was struggling to get kosher meat in time for the Passover festival.

The NIO has been approached for comment.

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