About SCoJeC
 New on Site
 What's On
 Four Corners
 Daily Digest
 Points of View
 Report an Incident
 Members only
 Support SCoJeC
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)


Hand in Hand – Interfaith Creativity

12 November 2017
SCoJeC's interfaith paper-cutting session in Falkirl

The theme of Scottish Interfaith Week – "Creativity and the Arts" – gave a wonderful opportunity for faith communities to explore their own cultural traditions alongside those of other communities. SCoJeC was delighted to join with Al Masaar, a Muslim organisation whose name means "the Path to Progression", to put on a unique event called Hand in hand: Paper-cutting from Jewish and Muslim traditions. Al Masaar promote positive community relations, supporting vulnerable, isolated, and disadvantaged families, as well as working with the wider community to break down barriers with education and new experiences.

The two artists, Abi Pirani and Maryam Golubeva, both gain inspiration from their own traditions. Abi is a Jewish artist living in Scotland, who discovered paper-cutting by chance. Her themes are nature and Jewish Festivals, and she creates intricate papercuts that resemble stained glass. Maryam is a Russian Muslim artist who lives in England whose work is inspired by the motifs of both Middle Eastern and Russian folk art.

SCoJeC interfaith paper-cutting session in Falkirk

The event was the brainchild of SCoJeC's Projects and Outreach Manager, Fiona Frank. She said: "I met Abi and Maryam a few years ago, and ever since I've had the idea of bringing them together for an event like this. Our partnership with Al Masaar, and the funding from the Inter-Faith Youth Trust to bring a group of Jewish Guides from Glasgow, made the day work perfectly, and Abi and Maryam's complementary approaches to the same art form meant that everyone was able to participate, and everyone learned something." As one of the participants said, "This was such an amazing idea for an interfaith event. I rarely ever have the opportunity to learn about all the different cultures that are around me. This really proves that there is so much beauty in all these ancient traditions, and the love of art is shared across the continents."

SCoJeC interfaith paper-cutting event in Falkirk

The event was well-attended both by members of the Jewish community and by locals connected to Al Masaar, and after a delicious lunch and a short presentation on the 2000-year tradition of paper-cutting, during which both artists amazed the audience with examples of their own work, the participants were able to create their own papercuts. Maryam prepared arabesque motifs for those who wanted to use a pattern. Others, under the guidance of Abi, gained inspiration from Matisse, the French painter who was also famous for his papercuts.

Some people let their fantasy loose and created unique papercuts, for example, combining arabesques with Chinese letters, and a Scottish thistle containing the symbols of different religions. One 10-year old local girl made special papercuts for her friends with their initials, very thoughtfully choosing colours according to their preferences. Another, aged 8, was really happy to take her five papercuts home to decorate her room, and also made a piece for SCoJeC's outreach worker Joanne, to thank her for organising the event.

SCoJeC interfaith paper-cutting session in Falkirk

People of all ages equally had fun: adults who brought their children along for the programme immersed themselves in their work, proudly displaying their creations. At the end of the event, when participants were asked for brief comments about the day, most referred to what they had learned about the different faiths. Sofia from Al Masaar commented: "We are delighted to have had the opportunity to work with SCoJeC on a fantastic event, where young people and families were able to come together to meet people from different traditions and cultures, and learn new things. We were delighted to co-host the paper-cutting event because it was an original idea for Falkirk for the public to see and try artwork from our religious cultural background and witness that we have more in common than is perceived. This event continues our ethos of promoting community cohesion."

Other comments included:

"So lovely and inspiring to be a part of Interfaith Scotland Week launch event. So lovely also to do crafts with girls and women of other faiths and chat with them. I am Jewish, met Muslims and Christians."

"I learned about how Judaism and Islam share the tradition of papercutting and how promoting shared traditions can promote love and peace between faith communities. Papercutting was very therapeutic. Maryam and Abi delivered fascinating talks."

"I enjoyed chatting to other participants of different faiths."

"The event encouraged discussion that broke down stereotypes."

Many people agreed that "more events like this – interfaith, cultural and fun – would be very welcome", and SCoJeC certainly hopes to repeat the experience – after all, traditional paper-cutting, we now know for sure, works!

We are grateful to the Inter-Faith Youth Trust for sponsoring this event, and to the Netherlee and Clarkston Charitable Trust for their support for this event.


We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.
To find out more about cookies and how to manage them through your browser settings see our Cookie Policy.

Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation no. SC029438