The Jaffe graves and memorials
The Jaffe monument in Belfast City Cemetery
It is difficult not to devote a disproportionate amount of this study to one family in particular. The wealth of sources available to anyone researching the Jaffe family tree is remarkable. Perhaps the most famous, they were also the first German Jewish linen merchants to settle and trade in the city, and certainly the most successful. For anyone wishing to undertake even a little research into Belfast’s Jewish community, the Jaffe family is a good place to begin as it opens avenues into records of Jewish participation in trade, industry, commerce, politics, charity work, education, local government and the arts. Both Louis Hyman and Bernard Shillman give excellent accounts of the family’s beginnings in and departure from Ireland.10 The Jewish quarter of the City Cemetery is the final resting place of the founder and organizer of the city’s Jewish congregation – Daniel Joseph Jaffe. Born in Hamburg on 19 August 1809, Daniel Joseph owned a substantial mercantile business in Hamburg and in 1845 visited Belfast to open a linen house and shipped linen products back to his other firms in Europe and America.. Daniel Joseph’s son Martin held the first Jewish services in Northern Ireland in his Holywood home under the auspices of the British chief Rabbi, but it was his father who, on 7 July 1871, laid the foundation stone of the synagogue in Great Victoria Street, with a Hebrew congregation of no more than 55 people.
The commerce generated by the Jaffe family’s enterprise has yet to be calculated has yet to be calculated, but we an surmise that with Daniel Joseph leaving effects in the UK of alone of £140 000 in 1874 it was certainly a remarkable contribution to Belfast’s textile trade. Daniel Joseph Jaffe died in Niece on 21 January but was buried in Belfast thanks to his son Martin’s success in securing the plot of land in City Cemetery which was to become the Jewish Cemetery. Daniel Joseph is buried there with his wife Fredrike and other family members. However, the Jaffe history in what is now Northern Ireland is indeed a history without headstones. The exact site of Daniel Joseph’s grave is not apparent to anyone visiting the cemetery today because the English and Hebrew inscriptions along with the Magen Davids are chipped off. Whether vandalized, removed or buried for protection we are unsure because of poor record keeping.
The Jaffe monument