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Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)


Cultural Connections
Festival of Jewish Arts and Culture

27 July 2014

Cultural Connections, the Festival of Jewish Arts and Culture at the Maclaurin Gallery in Rozelle Park in Ayr got off to a hugely successful start on Sunday, with a packed opening event supported by SCoJeC.

Cultural Connections: Festival of Jewish Arts and Culture

The Festival centres on a major exhibition of art by four Jewish artists who worked in Glasgow in the 20th Century: Josef Herman, Benno Schotz, Jankel Adler, and Hannah Frank. The idea for the Festival started with a chance gift of three Benno Schotz sculptures to the Maclaurin Gallery, and thanks to Scottish Government Adopt-an-Intern scheme funding obtained by SCoJeC, the exhibition has grown into an eight-week activity-packed Festival of Jewish Arts and Culture.

Cultural Connections: Festival of Jewish Arts and Culture

The Festival also includes an exhibition of Scots Jews: Identity, Belonging, and the Future, the snapshot of contemporary Jewish life in Scotland by the renowned documentary photographer Judah Passow, which SCoJeC supported last year, and the opening event began with Judah speaking to a fascinated audience about the philosophy and thinking behind his particular brand of photography. He is a follower of the ‘father of photojournalism’, Cartier-Bresson, who talked about the ‘decisive moment’ – that key fraction of a second when the image, the light and the frame all come together for a perfect photograph. He told us about how he had sometimes spent several days in the company of a subject – it would take a day or so until people began to act naturally in the presence of the camera. He showed us particular photographs as examples, like one of a sheep farmer in Lochgilphead. Her Magen David shone out in the late evening sunlight and formed the centrepiece of the photograph as she walked her sheep home at the end of the day. It formed a key link between her Jewish tradition and her rootedness in the local landscape. Another example was the Jewish wedding, where the groom wore a traditional Jewish kippah, but also a traditional Scottish kilt – showing his links to Jewish and Scottish culture and tradition.

Cultural Connections: Festival of Jewish Arts and Culture

After Judah’s talk, the exhibition was opened in another packed gallery by David Glasser, the Glasgow-born Executive Director of the Ben Uri Gallery in London, which had made the arrangements for the Josef Herman collection to be exhibited in Ayr. David congratulated the Maclaurin Trust on the show, saying: “Each show stands on its own proudly, and together the cumulative effect is memorable and a triumph of engagement.” Other speakers, who were introduced by John Walker, Chair of the Maclaurin Trust, included Amiel Schotz, son of Benno Schotz, and Fiona Frank, niece of Hannah Frank and SCoJeC Projects and Outreach manager.

Cultural Connections: Festival of Jewish Arts and Culture

The three-piece Klezmer band Celter Schmelter provided a backdrop of soulful Klezmer music for the afternoon, as guests enjoyed a fantastic kosher buffet. People had travelled from as far as Aberdeen to attend the opening; the Association of Jewish Refugees had organised a minibus to bring a group to Ayr, and members of Glasgow’s Jewish community present included retired actress Ida Schuster Berkeley, 93, who had her own vivid memories of meeting all the featured artists during the last century. With events and gallery tours each week – including dance, art, and singing workshops, family picnics, a two-day conference on 14th and 15th September on Jewish Life and Jewish Arts in Scotland, coordinated by SCoJeC and the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre, and a lunch and Klezmer and Baroque concert by the Adrianne Greenbaum Quartet, as part of a tour of Scotland organised by SCoJeC – it is expected that the gallery will host many more ‘cultural connections’ before the Festival closes on 21st September.


Arts at Rozelle/Maclaurin Gallery, Rozelle Estate, Monument Road, Ayr, KA7 4NQ (map)
Cultural Connections: Benno Schotz, Josef Herman, Jankel Adler, and Hannah Frank
(until 21 September)
Scots Jews: Identity, Belonging, and the Future: photographs by Judah Passow
(until 7 September)
Click here for a programme of related activities as part of the Festival of Jewish Culture


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Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation no. SC029438