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


SCoJeC Gets Together
a Scotland-wide Online Get-Together

Click here to watch videos about
Jewish Life outwith the Central Belt


3 September 2020

SCoJeC got together with all the Jewish communities around Scotland to host an Online Jewish Get-Together as a follow-on from the Scottish Jewish Coffee Morning in June. This time, the event took place in the evening, with the theme Jewish Life outwith the Central Belt. People living Jewish lives in Fife, in and around Aberdeen, and in the Highlands and Islands came together to talk about their experiences.

Scottish Jewish Get-Together

Bill Shackman and Emily Michelson started the evening talking about living in St Andrews, which sometimes feels very isolated, especially since they came from large and vibrant Jewish communities in the US. Jewish life has been demanding for them, because they rely on themselves to create their own holiday atmosphere, and even to make their own challah and humous. But they also recognise that because of this self-reliance, they get to create the egalitarian and traditional model they want to see. They definitely feel a kinship with other Jews scattered throughout Tayside and Fife, and welcome Jewish people to their home throughout the year. Their children aren’t growing up with the Jewish surroundings that Bill and Emily had, but they have a strong sense of their Jewish identlty.

Next was Linda Martin, who moved to the Highlands from England after the death of her husband, in order to surround herself with nature. She designed and built a house there, and when she noticed the shortage of kosher accommodation for Jewish people from all over the world wanting to holiday in the Highlands, she decided to turn it into a bed and breakfast business. She is used to celebrating Jewish holidays on her own, but has enjoyed both welcoming Jewish guests for the festivals, and introducing the Jewish festivals to people in the local village many of whom had never met anyone Jewish before. She said they are now very accommodating and friendly, and one even gave her the run of her house when she was living in a caravan while her house was being built.

Scottish Jewish Get-Together

Lady Hadassah Broscova-Righetti runs the Blue Highlands Raptor Rescue and Avian Conservation Centre. She moved to the Scottish Highlands after living in many other countries, and feels that Scotland has been the most generous in terms of traditional Scottish hospitality. When she opened a bird rescue centre, the challenges she faced were quite extraordinary because she largely works with non-kosher birds, but she feeds them kosher food and follows what the Torah teaches about food, land, and animals “just like people in ancient times”.

Hilary Franklin was born in Oxford, and after working as a nurse in Shetland for 8 years, she moved to Aberdeen where she got involved with the Jewish Community right away. She became President of the community last year, and has been working hard on fundraising in order to preserve their beautiful and historic synagogue building.

The Scottish Jewish Get-Together

Debbie Taylor, who is vice president of the Aberdeen Synagogue and Jewish Community Centre, was born in Dundee and grew up in the small Jewish community there, where her father was a well-known figure. She came from a traditional family who kept a kosher home, and after the kosher butcher in the city shut down, meat had to be brought in from Glasgow and Edinburgh. Sometimes, she remembered, food came by train or coach, and arrived so spoilt that it had to be thrown into the Tay. She told stories of her schooldays – and of following her father’s footsteps as an ‘ambassador of Judaism’ from the age of seven!

Finally, Sarah Brodie, who lived all over England before settling down in Orkney, highlighted that religious life starts at home. She talked about how it was important to her that her children have a Jewish community and know their faith and their roots, but that living so isolated has made it hard. Her family have had to become very self-reliant.

The Scottish Jewish Get-Together

A common theme that ran through the evening was the idea of being an ambassador for Judaism, when living in a community with so few Jewish people. Most speakers also spoke about the importance of being organised and resourceful, because they have to prepare everything for themselves for Shabbat and festivals, and they often need to travel a long way to obtain kosher supplies. It was a great privilege to hear how people manage to live meaningful Jewish lives in isolation, and how they still manage to keep in touch and connect with the wider Jewish communities.

After the event, one participant who now lives in Edinburgh said that she, too, had the experience of being the ‘only Jew in the village’ – she was literally the only Jew in the small Yorkshire Dales village of 32 houses and a pub, where she lived for 20 years as a weekender and another 20 years as her only residence. And Lady Hadassah told us that the event had given her a “sense of camaraderie in that all of us are facing similar challenges, despite quite unique life stories”.

Click here to watch videos about
Jewish Life outwith the Central Belt


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Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation no. SC029438