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


Chief Rabbi's visit to the
Scottish Parliament

Bicentenary of the Scottish Jewish Community
13 December 2017
The Chief Rabbi and the First Minister at the Scottish Parliament
Photo courtesy of the Scottish Parliament ©

SCoJeC is delighted to have arranged for the Chief Rabbi to meet the First Minister and leaders of all the other Scottish political parties during his first visit to the Scottish Parliament for three years.

The First Minister referred to "the immense contribution that the small but perfectly formed Jewish Community of Scotland had made during its two-hundred year history", and said that "SCoJeC is a very effective organisation" with which she had had many conversations over the years, sometimes on quite challenging topics.

The Presiding Officer welcomes the Chief Rabbi to the Scottish Parliament
The Chief Rabbi at the Scottish Parliament

The Chief Rabbi said that his role was as a spiritual leader of the entire commonwealth, and that he recognised and had every confidence in SCoJeC, which was "exactly the right thing for the Jewish Community of Scotland to have done in response to Devolution, in order to ensure that they had a single representative voice". He said he knew that the Jewish Community feel very much at home in Scotland, and thanked the Scottish Government for its tangible support, exemplified by the magnificent new Calderwood Lodge Primary School, whose unique shared campus with St Clare's Roman Catholic primary he had recently opened.

The Chief Rabbi with Ruth Davidson and Ephraim Borowski

However he said Jewish people do sometimes feel vulnerable, for example when opposition to actions of the Israeli government crosses the line into antisemitism by denying Jewish people the same right to self-determination as is an accepted right of all others, and he therefore welcomed the Scottish Government's adoption of the internationally accepted definition of antisemitism.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon with SCoJeC Chair Micheline Brannan and Board of Deputies President Jonathan Arkush
Photo courtesy of the Scottish Parliament ©

The Chief Rabbi was welcomed to the Parliament by the Presiding Officer, Ken Macintosh, who for many years represented the Eastwood constituency, which is home to the nearly half of the Jewish Community of Scotland, and he went on to meet the Conservative leader and leader of the opposition, Ruth Davidson, and Patrick Harvie, leader of the Scottish Green Party. He also met Elaine Smith of the Scottish Labour Party, and Liam Macarthur of the Liberal Democrats, deputising for their leaders whose presence was required in the Chamber for an important debate.

Earlier in the day, the First Minister had also met SCoJeC Chair Micheline Brannan along with President of the Board of Deputies Jonathan Arkush, who was in Edinburgh to attend the lighting of Chanukah candles in the Scottish Parliament to mark the end of the Scottish Community's bicentenary celebrations.

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis lights the chanukiah at the Scottish Parliament
Photo courtesy of the Scottish Parliament ©

In the evening, the Chief Rabbi lit the chanukiah that had been presented to the Scottish Parliament by the Rifkind family of Edinburgh at a reception in the Garden Lobby. As well as the Chief Rabbi, this magnificent closing event of the Community's bicentenary year was addressed by Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh, and Edward Green, former Chair of the Edinburgh Hebrew Congregation, who had organised the occasion. The reception was attended by around three hundred representatives of all of Scotland's Jewish communities, members of all the political parties in the Parliament, civic leaders, representatives of other faith communities, and members of the consular corps.


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Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation no. SC029438