Inverness, Ullapool, and Stirling were the venues for SCoJeC’s latest series of events, "Chai (Life) in the Highlands”, which were attended by Jewish people from as far away as the USA, Canada, South Africa, and South America, who have now made their home in Scotland.
At each event, SCoJeC's Volunteer Ambassador to the Highlands, Linda Martin, talked about Jewish dietary law, and how it has promoted conservation, health and good husbandry through the ages, and gave a demonstration of Jewish cookery including gefilte fish, blintzes, and hummous – which the participants later enjoyed as part of the buffet! She also showed the groups how to plait 3-, 6-, and 8-strand challah – using nylon stockings at two of the events, since we hadn't been able to prepare dough in advance!
Outreach Worker Fiona Frank also spoke about the findings of our Being Jewish in Scotland project, and follow-up developments such as YaCHaS and SCoJeC CoNNeCT.
In Inverness, nine people came together from the tiny Jewish community, the small regular Hebrew class that started after SCoJeC’s first gathering here, and others with an interest in Judaism or food from different cultures. The cookery talk and demonstration brought back many childhood memories, particularly for one lady who spoke of the Shabbat cholent her grandmother used to make, and its wonderful flavour and melt-in-the-mouth texture. The same lady recalled watching her grandmother plait the six-strand Shabbat challah, and had always had wanted to be able to do it herself – an ambition finally achieved at this event!
In total more than 35 people attended these events, and several had previously had no idea that there were any other Jewish people living locally. One woman who has lived in Scotland for sixteen years, told us that although she bakes challah at home, and she and her daughter observe all of the Jewish festivals, she had never been to a local Jewish event, and this was also a first for three Jewish women in Ullapool. A great time was had by all, and, as we packed up at each venue, new friends were exchanging contact details, and planning to meet up again soon.