This study of Jewish headstones is admittedly inadequate and touches merely the surface of a complex and rich cultural history. My hope is merely to highlight the need to record this history before it is forgotten. In studying these headstones I have found the factual realities of Belfastís Jewish history very different from what I thought it would be. I have realized that it is an impossible and pointless exercise to study the Jewish community in isolation from its surroundings, or to mark clear-cut borders between secular and religious life. Judaism teaches that a single life is like a world, save a life and you save a world. Surely by the same reckoning, if we save the memory of a single life, we save the history of a world. Each Jewish headstone represents a family history, a communityís history, a nationís history, and a Jewish history.
The opportunity to record the history of the Jewish community in Northern Ireland will disappear if we do not protect and preserve the headstones of the Jewish section of Belfast City Cemetery. If Belfast is to boast of inclusivity and tolerance this is the opportunity to prove in action what our public representatives claim in words. The invisibility of the Jewish community in the past is a testimony of the success of their integration into Northern Irelandís society. But we ought not to reward peaceful integration by ignoring and forgetting the history of the Jewish people. Let us record fact, and write a history that gives to every person a name and a place.
Destruction in the Jewish section of Belfast City Cemetery