SCoJeC held an early Chanukah party at the Low Port Centre in the beautiful historic town of Linlithgow a few days before Chanukah really started. As well as the surrounding areas of West Lothian, people came from Glasgow, Stirling, and Edinburgh, and some originated as far afield as Poland, Brazil, Canada, South Africa, and even Blackpool!
There were people from 1 to 85 years old – a lovely mix who all got on with one another very well. There were Jewish people and also some non-Jewish people who had spotted our posters around town and were curious to learn about Chanukah – starting with why the posters spelled it “Hanukkah”!
SCoJeC's Education and Outreach Worker, Joanne, formally welcomed everyone, explaining what wonderful activities were in store for us. Sydney Switzer, Youth Worker for the UJIA then told the story of Chanukah with the help of 5 year old Reuben and 9 year old Yasmin, perfectly setting the mood and purpose of the event, while 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 paper-cuttings of Chanukiot (Chanukah candelabra).
Sydney led the children in games of dreidel, and the youngsters enjoyed winning chocolate Chanukah gelt (coins)!
Meanwhile, the delicious kosher buffet was served, with latkes, sufganiyot (doughnuts), and many more tasty foods on the menu.
There was also Israeli music with Jo Freeman leading Israeli dancing. She taught participants a series of simple dance routines, and all ages took part in the fun.
By now it was now time to light the Chanukiot while Rabbi Aharon Lemberger, the Jewish Student Chaplain, led the singing. The venue's fire regulations made no concessions either to Chanukah or the wind and rain, so we had to light them outside and hope for the best!
Our guests had a great time. As one of them said, “It was interesting to learn a bit about Jewish history and culture. It was also nice that you were so welcoming to us.“
Coincidentally, the Chairs of both Edinburgh Hebrew Congregation and Sukkat Shalom, the Edinburgh Liberal Jewish Community, both of whom live in the area, dropped in to meet us.
During the day, four of the participants took part in a small focus group led by Fiona Frank, to contribute to the Being Jewish in Scotland 2020 inquiry, and there was a lot of discussion about the aftermath of the recent election and how that would or would not affect Jewish people in Scotland.