SCoJeC is delighted to have facilitated a visit by a group from all the east coast communities to visit the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre in Garnethill Synagogue in Glasgow.
A full minibus of people from Aberdeen, Tayside and Fife, and the Edinburgh Jewish communities had a great day out, starting with an excellent lunch laid on by Garnethill Shul, before Harvey Kaplan, Director of the Archives Centre, led a tour of the building, which is in High Victorian style with elaborate stonework, an impressive Ark and Bimah, and an exquisite mechitzah, and is the only Scottish Synagogue to feature in Jewish Heritage UK's 'top ten'. He explained that Jews started coming to Scotland in the late 1600s, either to teach or study at universities – because students couldn’t matriculate at English universities without swearing a Christian oath – or as merchants. They then visited the current Archive exhibition, called “New Life in Scotland”, which depicts patterns of immigration from the 18th to late 20th century, and also describes the life of the community and prominent individuals during that time.
The visit has resulted in new friendships between people from the different communities. "It is wonderful to be in touch with other Jewish people," said Esther Finlay, originally from Israel, where she met her Scottish husband. "In September, 1989, we moved to Scotland and my third child was born in Dundee. I live in Montrose and hadn't come across any other Jews – it was like living in a desert. One day, one of my friends told me she had seen a leaflet about SCoJeC’s Being Jewish in Scotland project in the library, and I got involved. We have a service in Dundee Synagogue every last Saturday of the month. I hold Hebrew lessons in the shul, and we have Israeli dancing on Thursdays. This trip has been a wonderful opportunity for the smaller Jewish communities to find out more about each other, and about the history of Judaism in Scotland.”