SCoJeC’s study of Being Jewish in Scotland was one of the topics at a conference about Edinburgh's Jewish history that took place at the University of Edinburgh.
SCoJeC Outreach worker Fiona Frank presented the main findings of last year’s enquiry, which had been funded by the Scottish Government, and Gillian Raab and Ephraim Borowski, SCoJeC Vice-Chair and Director respectively, explored what census data tells us about the Jewish population in Scotland. Other papers addressed the history of the study of Hebrew and oriental languages at the University of Edinburgh (Graeme Auld), and the biography of Edinburgh’s first Jewish graduate, physician Dr Joseph Hart Myers (Stephen Massil); Mirella Yandoli introduced Edinburgh’s rich archival resources relating to Jewish history, religion and culture, and Harvey Kaplan gave an insight into the holdings of the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre. The day concluded with a well-attended public lecture by Mark Gilfillan on Scots and Jews: The History of Edinburgh Jewry, 1790-1950.
There was also a preview of the exhibition Edinburgh Jews, which gives a unique insight into the history of the long-established Jewish community, whose presence in Edinburgh can be traced back to the middle of the eighteenth century. It offers an overview of a fascinating history which encompasses both local interest and the impact of global conflicts on the city and Jewish population, and includes a number of exhibits from private family collections that have never before been on public display. Each display combines informative text, newspaper articles, personal recollections, historic maps, paintings, drawings and photographs, and detailed topographical mapping of Jewish life in Edinburgh for the period 1894 to 1969 identifies the community’s homes, places of work, types of professions, and public spaces.