SCoJeC held a very successful programme in Aberdeen over Purim and the following Shabbat. The festivities began with reading the megillah (Book of Esther) at Aberdeen University Library using a 200 year old scroll from the University’s extensive Judaica collections. This was organised by a member of the Aberdeen community, Chris Fynsk, who is Professor of Philosophy and Literature at the University, and the megillah was read expertly by SCoJeC Director, Ephraim Borowski, to a large, appreciative and noisy gathering of the Aberdeen Jewish community which included many children. (It is the custom to drown out each mention of the name "Haman" by stamping, shaking rattles, and generally making a noise.)
Friday evening supper at the synagogue in Dee Street for thirty participants followed Minchah, Kabbalat Shabbat and Maariv services, led by Ephraim, the first time there had been a minyan for evening services in Aberdeen outside the High Holy Days for many years. The meal, catered by Irene Collins and Margalit Borowski, gave visitors from Glasgow and Dundee an opportunity to meet many of the local Jewish community.
Ehud Reiter of the Aberdeen Hebrew Congregation welcomed the visitors from Glasgow and described to them the efforts they were making to keep the community going and the problems they faced in maintaining the fabric of their synagogue. SCoJeC Chair, Dr Kenneth Collins, said it was inspiring to see how a small group of people had managed to keep Jewish life going in Aberdeen despite its geographic isolation. Aberdeen Synagogue functions as the centre for Jewish life and attracts people, many with young families, from the universities and the oil industry, from America and Israel as well as from all over the United Kingdom.
Kiddush and lunch followed the Shabbat morning service which was again led by Ephraim. After lunch Kenneth gave an account of the early history of the Aberdeen Hebrew Congregation, which dates back to 1893, with an outline of the Aberdeen shechitah case, while Ephraim brought everyone up to date with current efforts to defend shechitah in Scotland.
Kenneth explained that SCoJeC has recently received funding for an outreach project to isolated Jews throughout Scotland, and that further exciting developments were being planned. He thanked Ehud Reiter and Yoni Shoshan for their assistance in ensuring the success of the weekend and said he hoped that more SCoJeC activities would take place in Aberdeen.