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


SNP leaders visit synagogue

26 August 2021

SNP leaders visit synagogue

SCoJeC was delighted to arrange for the Westminster leadership of the Scottish National Party to visit Giffnock Synagogue in East Renfrewshire.

The meeting with SCoJeC and the Glasgow Jewish Rep Council was requested by Kirsten Oswald as part of a visit to her constituency by the Westminster SNP Leader, Ian Blackford MP.  Kirsten is the Deputy Leader of the SNP group in Westminster, as well as Chair and Business Convener of the party, and, as the local MP, represents the constituency with the largest Jewish community in Scotland.

SNP leaders visit synagogue

The visit began with a tour of the synagogue building led by Jewish Student Chaplain, Rabbi Aharon Lemberger, who is also the Assistant Rabbi of the synagogue. He showed the MPs the Torah scrolls. SCoJeC Treasurer Philip Mendelsohn, who is also a Trustee of the Queens Park Trust, then explained the history and significance of the magnificently detailed painted glass windows by the renowned Scottish architectural glass artist John K Clark. These were originally commissioned in the early 1990s for Queen’s Park synagogue, and were moved to Giffnock Synagogue when Queen’s Park closed.

The tour was followed by a discussion of matters of concern to the Jew+ish Community. Rep Council President Paul Edlin told the MPs about antisemitic graffiti that had recently been daubed in a local school. He also referred to anti-Israel incidents that have been directed against the synagogue and other Jewish facilities, and SCoJeC Director Ephraim Borowski put this in context of the significant rise in antisemitic incidents during the recent war in Gaza. Although the number of incidents may appear small – 22 in Scotland during the first six months of the year compared with 1,308 in the whole of the UK – this compared with 30 during the whole of the previous year, and was more than double the number only five years ago.

On a more positive note, the local Jewish community is actively engaging with the Muslim community, for example by presenting joint school assemblies. Kirsten offered her support and said she would do everything she could to encourage dialogue between local communities.

Kirsten Oswald commented:

"This was a constructive and very welcome visit. It was particularly helpful to touch on the important work which GJRC and SCoJeC do in our communities, and I am very pleased to support them in their endeavours."

Ian Blackford reaffirmed his, and his party’s, commitment to a two-state solution in the Middle East, saying, “I’d love to see a sustainable peace between Israel and Palestine, and I'd like the SNP to contribute to that in any way we can”. He added:

"I was really pleased to be invited to visit the Shul and enjoyed the constructive and wide-ranging discussion with the community leaders. The Jewish community is a vitally important part of Scottish life and I look forward to our continued engagement going forward. The First Minister has a desire to see greater equality in society and she believes strongly that we need to stand up for all faiths. We recognise the fears of the Jewish community over antisemitism and we are clear that one instance of antisemitism is one too many. We want Scotland’s Jewish community to feel safe."


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