NI Protocol placing ‘tremendous strain’ on NI’s Jewish community

The Northern Ireland Protocol is placing huge strain on an already struggling Jewish community in Belfast, one of its leaders has said.

Thursday, 8th July 2021, 6:59 pm
Updated Thursday, 8th July 2021, 7:01 pm
A Kosher baker with Purim cakes baked specially for the Jewish festival of Hamentashen.
A Kosher baker with Purim cakes baked specially for the Jewish festival of Hamentashen.

The problem centres around securing supplies of kosher food - which meets strict Jewish religious guidelines.

The increase in red tape and administration costs in shipping meat from GB to NI due to Brexit have been playing havoc on supplies of some products for the general NI population - especially meat. But this has been impacting on the Jewish community disproportionately because of their small size.

As NI remains within the EU customs union, the EU applies stringent checks on products coming in from GB, with meat particularly affected. An interim grace period affecting such matters is due to end in September.

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Michael Black, Chairman of the Belfast Jewish Community (BJC), said: “The Northern Ireland protocol as it stands has placed tremendous strain on the Jewish community. The Belfast Jewish Community urges the UK and EU governments to work together to resolve this matter to ensure the community can be sustained.”

Shoshanna Appleton, a long-time member of the BJC, said she made an order recently and could only get half of what she had requested.

“The Jewish community of Belfast numbers around 60 people and all their kosher meat is sourced from Manchester,” she said.

“We are only getting half of what we normally get. Our community is small and elderly. “Issues like this make it almost impossible to encourage young Orthodox Jewish families to come to Northern Ireland. We are dying on our feet here.”

“You can get some kosher products in Dublin but it is four or five times as expensive as from Manchester”.

“We used to get monthly deliveries but now it is every two or three months. There are less and less orders because it is increasingly not worth their while to supply us.”

The UK’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, with local Jewish leaders Reverend David Kale and Michael Black, plus President of the Board of Deputies Marie van der Zyl, met Secretary of State Brandon Lewis to discuss the problem on Tuesday.

The day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson told MPs there had been “very serious representations” from the Jewish community and that they are talking now about “an exodus from Northern Ireland”.

He added: “Clearly we want to do everything we can to avoid that and sort it out but it is going to take our friends in the joint committee to make some movement and to make that movement pretty fast.”

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