Can a Jew Be Irish? by Brighid O’Sullivan

When we think of the Irish people, we can’t help but think of Catholics and Protestants.  But Judaism? I certainly didn’t think of a Jew as being Irish until recently and its cleared up a huge misconception in my own personal ancestry which had always confused me.  It confused my father as well. I’ll tell you why.

The name I was born with is Kaplan, my father’s name, naturally. My father was fiercely proud of his Irish heritage. His grandparents were both straight from County Kerry, Ireland with the names Sullivan and Geoghegan. But was the Kaplan name Irish? He explained to me the Irish pronunciation with the little mark over the second ‘a’ and swore up and down to everyone Kaplan was an Irish name. My mother said it was Polish. When I looked it up I found that in German it means monk. When my father would introduce himself people would say to him, “Oh, you’re Jewish huh?” That remark would  burn his britches since we were also very Catholic. Continue reading