BORN LONDON, 4TH MARCH 4, 1929. DIED BELFAST, AUGUST 10, 2009, AGED 80.
LOVED AND respected in Belfast by the Jewish and wider community, Cyril Rosenberg received the 2003 Volunteer of the Year title from NICEM -— Northern Ireland Council of Ethnic Minorities — for his outstanding contribution to community relations through his 30 years of guided synagogue tours.
London-born, he moved to Dublin at eight when his furrier father, Alec, became foreman of a leading fur workshop on Grafton Street in 1937. Cyril’s grandparents were immigrants, escaping Russia’s late 19th-century pogroms.
From Dublin’s Zion School, Bloomfield Avenue, he gained a scholarship to Wesley College. But he was unable to take it up as it coincided with yet another family move to Belfast, together with his mother, Bella, and late brother, Stanley.
In the late 1940s Belfast had a vibrant Jewish community. Cyril soon met his teenage sweetheart, Norma Simons, whom he married in 1953. Their 56-year marriage was a fruitful partnership, with both involved in communal life.
After working several years in his father’s furrier business, he switched to his father-in-law’s jewellery business in Belfast’s Smithfield Market.
When a 1974 terrorist attack completely destroyed Smithfield Market, he opened his own jewellery business under the name of David Allan. With his reputation for integrity, he became treasurer and, in 1980, president of the Northern Ireland Jewellery Association.
Committed to the welfare of the community, he regularly attended synagogue and was a long-serving member of the congregational council.
Among his many responsibilities he was honorary secretary in 1989 of the Belfast Hebrew Congregation — which in 2004 added the name Belfast Jewish Community to attract website visitors. His wife took over as secretary in 1995.
For the last ten years he represented the community at the annual Armistice Day commemorations at Belfast City Hall. He was also an active member of the Shalom Masonic Lodge and a past worshipful master and lodge chaplain.
A regular news contributor to the JC, he was a correspondent from 20042006.
His hugely popular guided tours of Belfast’s synagogue introduced thousands of people in Northern Ireland — school children, churches of all denominations and groups from every walk of life — to Judaism and the 135-year history of the Belfast community.
His care and concern created friends and increased understanding and tolerance towards the community.
He served on the Council of Christians and Jews and the executive of the Interfaith Forum, and attended Christian Embassy meetings. Priests and nuns, ministers and bishops always asked about Cyril Rosenberg.
He had a profound love of music. At 12 he was a choirboy in Dublin’s Adelaide Road Synagogue, in later years he was a chorister in the Belfast Synagogue. His other great interest was sport. An active tennis player in his youth, he later joined Shaftesbury Bowling Club.
His last 10 years were plagued with illness, which he fought courageously. His warmth, humour and integrity never left him, even when in failing health and severe illness.
He is survived by his wife, Norma; two sons, Alan and Ian; and four grandchildren.
Doyen of Belfast Jewry Cyril Rosenberg also wrote for the JC