Dr Billy Kenefick, who is hoping to establish a module in Scottish Jewish History at Dundee University, was the first speaker at an event at Dundee Synagogue, as part of SCoJeC's Being Jewish in Scotland project. In his talk, entitled "The Jews and Irish in Modern Scotland: Anti-Semitism, Sectarianism and Social Mobility", he sought to explain why, in the mid twentieth century, Jews living in the Glasgow Gorbals "broke free" of their "Glasgow Ghetto" before the Irish who had settled in the district a full generation beforehand. He suggested that the Jewish experience, in particular their relationships with the host community, was more positive and certainly less problematic than that of the immigrant Irish, and argued that the low level of antisemitism in Scotland was linked to successful Jewish integration and social mobility, in marked contrast with the Christian sectarianism that has largely defined the relationship between the Protestant host community and mainly Catholic Irish.
Kirk Hansen, a PhD student in Dundee University's Department of History, then talked about his research into “Jewish Identity and Attitudes toward Militarism in Scotland c.1899 to 1939”, and how his work has revealed the Jewish community's struggle to maintain a Jewish identity while simultaneously attempting to adapt to and integrate into Scottish society.
After refreshments, the meeting concluded with a stimulating discussion about the early findings of SCoJeC's Being Jewish in Scotland project.
Click here to read more about the speakers.