On the first night of Chanukah, SCoJeC joined with UJIA, the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council, and other Jewish communities and organisations across the whole of Scotland to celebrate Chanukah together online.
Fourteen organisations from across the country took part, and no fewer than 246 people logged in – many of them with their families – to watch as our candle lightings moved from the west to the east coasts of Scotland in this unique version of our annual Chanukah event. This event came about thanks to whole-hearted collaboration across organisations, and stands as a testament to the strength of our community in continuing to come together safely throughout the pandemic.
Hosted by SCoJeC Projects and Outreach Manager Ruby Katz, and UJIA youth-worker Sydney Switzer, the event started with a recorded video message from the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, addressing the hardships of distancing from friends and loved ones during our festive celebrations and including a message of hope for the future.
The evening continued with songs with Cantor Eddie Binnie from Garnethill, candle-lighting with Rabbi Moshe Rubin of Giffnock Synagogue, and songs with Rabbi Naftoli Lifschitz at Newton Mearns Synagogue, and Fiona and Howard Brodie of Glasgow Reform Synagogue. There was then a brief slideshow of Chanukah in Scotland through the years, presented by Harvey Kaplan of the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre, followed by a song from the Calderwood Lodge Primary School choir, candle-lighting by Rabbi Rose of the Edinburgh Hebrew Congregation, and a Chanukah song in Yiddish, Hebrew, and English from Rabbi Mark Solomon of Sukkat Shalom Liberal synagogue.
To end our evening, we enjoyed a short harp performance by Charlotte Hecht, followed by an address from the Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Aileen Campbell, and the evening ended in the north-east with candle-lighting by Debby Taylor of Aberdeen Synagogue, a brief address from Aberdeen Lord Provost Barney Crockett, and candle-lighting by the Jewish Student Chaplain on behalf of Jewish students all around Scotland.
"Of all the events I have been to in lockdown, this was the single most uplifting and inclusive event I have experienced", commented Kirsten Oswald MP.
Another participant told us: "It is so encouraging for those of us who are elderly – I'm 77 – to see so much enthusiasm and dedication in our young Jews! Long may you continue in your vital work."
"The way in which Zoom brings together so many people from so many different places really is the silver lining of the cloud that is Covid!", commented another participant.
"It was a privilege to join a national online gathering of Scotland’s Jewish communities to celebrate the start of Chanukah – A festival representing light in the darkness, resilience and hope. Never more than now has that felt so important. Best wishes to all celebrating @SCoJeC" (Aileen Campbell MSP, Communities Secretary)