Rosa (1843-1926 née Jacobs)’s family was from Hull in north England. She was the sixth child of 14 children born to Esther Lyon and Bethel Jacobs. Bethel’s father Israel Jacobs (1773-1853) had lived in Hull since at least 1801 and where they were silver/goldsmiths and watch makers with shops in Hull and Scarborough. Rosa had spent 4 years studying in France and Germany and was a pianist and published poet. According to the historian Louis Hyman, it is almost certain that Rosa was the author who published the rebuttal in the All-Ireland Review to antisemitism in Limerick in 1904. Rosa’s other activities included her involvement in the Irish Women’s Suffrage and Local Government Association in 1913.
Maurice Solomons (1832-1922)’s father, Elias (1799-1876) had two optician shops in London where he sold optical, mathematical instruments, and aids for sight, hearing and voice. In 1824 Elias opened an optician’s shop in Dublin which continued on 19 Nassau Street until 1904 when Maurice retired from the shop. During the 80 years of ‘Solomons’ spectacles’ being sold in Dublin, additional products also included telescopes, binoculars, microscopes as well as magic lanterns (early slide projectors). The customers included staff of the University of Notre Dame (Indiana USA), the Dean of Clonmacnoise as well as Bishops of Killala and Waterford.
In later years Maurice became a director of Boland’s Bakery and a Justice of the Peace. In 1902 he became honorary vice-consul to the Austro-Hungarian Empire and in 1912 became honorary consul. The reasons for his appointment included that he was a respected personality and was knowledgeable in German. One of his last activities in this role concerned the publication of the Austro-Hungarian General Mobilisation Order in the Irish Times at the outbreak of the First World War.
Rosa and Maurice married in 1878 and they were both very involved in the development of the Adelaide Road Synagogue in 1892. This synagogue replaced St Mary’s Abbey synagogue where Rosa had established the Sabbath School in 1882. Rosa’s father and grandfather had both been driving forces behind the development of new synagogues in Hull in response to growing populations, and she would have been aware of how to work with the Chief Rabbi in London in setting up a new synagogue.
Maurice and Rosa were part of the building committee for the new synagogue in Adelaide Road that included Marinus de Grott, Adolphe Davies, Morris Harris, and John Rosenthal. They were faced with a considerable challenge of fund raising. Appeals for financial aid were made on numerous occasions through the Jewish Chronicle to the Anglo-Jewish community, as well as outside the Jewish community in the Irish Times and Dublin Daily Express. Maurice and Rosa were dedicated to Jewish education and the synagogue contained an annexe for schoolrooms. Rosa founded the Adelaide Girls’ Friendly Society, and for 28 years Maurice was the Honorary Manager of the Jewish secular schools.
In addition to their communal and professional activities, Rosa and Maurice had four children, Edwin (1879-1964), Estella (1882-1968) Bethel (1885-1965) and Sophie (1887-1972). The family lived in Waterloo Road in south Dublin.
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