SCoJeC was honoured to host an online event for the Jewish community in Scotland to mark Remembrance Day.
In collaboration with the We Were There Too Project, and the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre we came together to remember and learn about British Jews in the military, and to hear individual stories shared by some of those attending.
We Were There Too is a unique cross-community project created to capture, record, and preserve the impact, experience, and contribution of Britain's Jewish communities during the First World War era. Rodney Ross and Alan Fell introduced us to the digital archive and interactive website at the centre of the project, which will become a permanent record of the lives of Jewish men, women, and families from 1914 to 1919, with details of their military and Home Front activities, ensuring that their stories are not lost for future generations. They also showed a short film of General Allenby entering Jerusalem in December 1917, explaining that he dismounted from his horse just outside the Jaffa Gate, in order to enter the city not as a conquerer but as a pilgim.
Harvey Kaplan, Director of the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre, said that around 1,500 Scottish Jewish people served in the military during the First World War, and that the Archives has records of memorials to 126 of those who lost their lives. He spoke about the lives of some Scottish Jewish people who served in the military, and showed a number of artefacts that have been donated to the Archives Centre by their families.
Dianna Wolfson, former Head Teacher of Calderwood Lodge Jewish Primary School and former President of Glasgow Jewish Representative Council, then shared the story of her grandfather, Hatzkell Tchureczinsky, a shoemaker who, with his wife Raizel, had moved from Odessa to Glasgow. He was a private in the 4th Battalion Scottish Rifles, the Cameronians, and was killed in Flanders in 1917 at the age of 29. Dianna also read part of Laurence Binyan's moving poem For the Fallen.
This was followed by a short memorial service to remember the 2,425 Jewish soldiers who lost their lives in the First World War, and the 6,800 who were wounded.
The floor was then opened to to those attending to share their own family stories. David Bleiman told the story of his grandfather, Adolf Taubes, who supported the Austrian side in World War I, and the Allied side as a member of the Cape Town Home Guard, in World War II.