The final event of SCoJeC’s year long Lottery-funded “YaCHaS” project to connect Israelis in Scotland, was an exciting celebration of Israeli Culture and Artists in Edinburgh. It was a great success, with more than 140 people contributing to what one participant called “a lovely community atmosphere”.
Israelis living in Scotland and members of Jewish communities from across Scotland came together with their families and friends to watch the acclaimed 2013 film Ana Arabia by Amos Gitai, which explores the coexistence of Jews and Arabs in the Tel Aviv suburb of Jaffa. As participants enjoyed light refreshments at the Filmhouse before the screening, the shared excitement was noticeable, as people continued to arrive, some from as far as Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow, and Stirling, to take part in the event. As one participant commented, “It’s not every day I get the chance to see and celebrate Israeli culture, so I was not going to miss this opportunity”.
We also had the pleasure of hosting friends of the Jewish community and of Israel, who were very keen to show their support and participate in the event. One women who came with a group from Dundee, said, as she proudly displayed an Israeli flag and a badge with crossed Israeli and Scottish flags: “In times like these we need to stand up and show our support for the Jewish community and Israelis in Scotland”.
After the film, guests watched two Israeli shows. Lamabati, a comedy group, were first to entertain the audience with a their energetic, fast paced, improvised play which got everyone laughing. This was followed by The City, a hip-hop opera by The Incubator Theater Company, which was controversially cancelled at the Festival Fringe because of anti-Israel protests. This is an electrifying and highly original Film Noir-inspired fable, blending rap, hip-hop, beat-boxing, and jazz singing – Humphrey Bogart meets Jay-Z!
The venue was packed with young people and an atmosphere of solidarity filled the room. One woman said: “I can’t believe art is suffering because of politics”, and another commented: “I have lived here for many years and have never seen a situation like this; it has brought us together to show our support.” The Israeli artists were noticeably excited to see the warm crowd: “We’ve not had an easy time here. We are happy to see you all, and we thank you all for embracing us.”
After a kosher buffet, the day ended with everyone joining in singing Am Israel Chai
, and the event was unanimously agreed to have been a major success. “Such a fantastic day; thank you for organising this,” said one participant. Another added: “I have had an amazing day, packed with Israeli art and culture; thank you for making it happen”.