SCoJeC is proud to be assisting Aberdeen Synagogue to raise funds for emergency repairs to its roof. Most recently, we were delighted to raise £200 from the auction of Debby Taylor’s ‘Lockdown Quilt’ at the end of our concert of Music in the Time of Anne Frank, and in light of the interest shown in her work there and at our recent Creative Thursday event, we were delighted to offer a number of other original hand-made quilts that Debby kindly donated to help with fundraising, and hand-made challah covers kindly donated by Elaine Levy from Edinburgh.
Debby explains the importance of the synagogue, not just to the Jewish community, but also to the wider Scottish community, and why the building should be saved:
A synagogue isn’t just a place of prayer, a meeting place or a place of learning. A synagogue gives its Jewish community a sense of Kehillah, a chance to share prayer, and celebrate lifecycle events together, as well as support those in need and generally take care of the members of that community. Without a synagogue there is no Kehillah, no community, no communal services, no communal support. A synagogue is a place of sanctuary and a safe space from life in general, and especially when the going gets tough and the world in which we live becomes increasingly indifferent to antisemitism.
It is important to acknowledge that Kehillah makes a distinct contribution and isn’t just a communal organisation that supports the Jewish community in the good times as well as the bad. Kehillah is the very essence of our synagogues forming strong bonds in intercommunal activities.
Towns and cities like to have synagogues as it gives the message of social cohesion, diversity and tolerance, welcoming to minorities and open to inter-cultural dialogue. The synagogue building acts as a point of contact and resource for the non-Jewish community to approach and ask questions, a place where dialogue begins and misconceptions end. It is highly likely that the majority of the Scottish population will never come across a Jewish person, even more so north of the central belt.
We know that in Aberdeen the synagogue is considered a valued resource, and indeed the community have been told they "punch well above our weight". We don’t do this because we want to blow our own trumpets but because it is important to dispel the myths and misconceptions that flourish in the wider community about Judaism. We welcome regular inter-communal events including Interfaith, Holocaust Memorial Day, and Doors Open Day. Should the Community ever lose the building, it would be a great loss to not only Aberdeen but the population of Scotland.
Living outwith the central belt, many years ago I had a conversation with someone I knew who had never met anyone Jewish. I mentioned I was Jewish, and they responded “Oh, but you're nice.” Without the chance of meeting someone Jewish, the idea that Jews are not nice will continue and manifest itself in the tropes that we have become all too familiar with. Take away the synagogue, take away the community, and this decreases the chances of positive encounters.
Since recovering from a flood in August 2017, our chimney and side wall required repairing. The builder went to start the work on the chimney and uncovered a serious structural problem that was a danger to pedestrians as well to users of the building. The work had to start immediately due to the risk it presented, at an estimated cost of £40,000.
Members of the Aberdeen community have worked hard over the last few months to raise the money with much appreciated help from SCoJeC, but we still need more than £13,000 to finish paying the builder. Please consider making a donation to help ensure the future of our historic building and the most northerly community in the UK.