SCoJeC brought in the first night of Chanukah at the Low Port Centre in the beautiful historic town of Linlithgow this week. It was a dreich day but that didn't dampen the spirits of those in attendance. The event was fully booked and, as the numerous guests started to arrive, there was a real buzz in the air that was to set the atmosphere alight for the rest of the afternoon. People hailed from Glasgow, Stirling, Edinburgh and, of course, the surrounding areas of West Lothian, many of whom are originally from Israel and have relocated to Scotland.
There were families with children of all ages, from babies to teenagers and young adults. There was also a good mix of Jewish people and some non-Jewish people who had spotted our posters around town and were curious to learn about Chanukah. Notable guests to join the party were the Provost of West Lothian, Tom Kerr; Councillor Tom Conn; and Councillor Chris Horne with his young daughter.
As the venue filled up, SCoJeC's Education and Outreach Worker Joanne formally welcomed everyone, explaining what wonderful activities were in store for us. SCoJeC Volunteer Ambassador Margalit then told the story of Chanukah to an engaged audience, perfectly setting the mood and purpose of the event, also providing a learning opportunity for those less familiar with Chanukah and the traditions surrounding it.
Throughout the afternoon, both adults and children enthusiastically participated in paper-cutting artist Abi Pirani's drop-in workshop, creating colourful Chanukah-themed paper-cuttings such as dreidels and Chanukiot. Meanwhile, the delicious kosher buffet was served, with latkes, sufganiyot (doughnuts) and many more tasty foods on the menu. Some games of dreidel broke out here and there, with many youngsters enjoying winning chocolate Chanukah 'gelt'. In the background there was Israeli music, and it wasn't long before traditional Israeli dancing broke out. Shosh Greenberg, together with two friends from Rehovot, taught participants a series of simple dance routines, and all ages took part in the fun.
Once everyone was exhausted from the dancing and merriment, guests were able to help themselves to more refreshments and continue mingling. Everyone was clearly thoroughly enjoying themselves.
By now it was now time to light the Chanukiot. Some visitors had brought their own to share in the lighting ceremony, but the venue's fire regulations made no concessions either to Chanukah or the pouring rain, so we had to light them outside! Daniel Frank from Giffnock led the brachot (blessings) over the lighting of the Chanukiot, while everyone else looked on from the warmth of the building. Some guests then burst into traditional Chanukah songs in English and Hebrew, concluding the event on a high note, and miraculously the rain didn't even put the candles out!
As the guests started to make their way home, many shared with SCoJeC staff how much they enjoyed the event. One guest said, "Living outside a sizeable Jewish community it was a great event to meet other Jewish people", whilst another added that it was an "Enjoyable afternoon – friendly and good food." Participants also praised the paper-cutting workshop and said that the event was very much enjoyed by their children. The venue and location were also reviewed positively for their accessibility. Overall, this event was a resounding success and enjoyed by all.
We are grateful to the Netherlee and Clarkston Charitable Trust for supporting this event.