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.
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: