Representatives of the Jewish Community in Scotland were honoured to be invited to participate in two significant events that show-cased the diversity of Scotland's communities.
At the end of June the Community was very well represented at a reception hosted by the First Minster to honour leaders of Scotland's faith communities, as part of the Scottish Government's new strategy to strengthen engagement with communities across government policy.
Amongst those present were representatives of the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council, both the Edinburgh Orthodox and Liberal Communities, Giffnock Newton Mearns and Garnethill Synagogues, and both student Chaplaincy couples, as well as SCoJeC's Chair Nicola Livingstone, Vice-Chair Gillian Raab, and Director Ephraim Borowski.
Addressing the gathering of faith and civic society leaders from across Scotland, First Minister Humza Yousaf, spoke of the huge contribution that faith communities make to society. As a practicing Muslim, he asked members of all faiths to pray for him as First Minister and for politicians of all persuasions who aim to improve the lot of the people of Scotland, and often have to make personal sacrifices to do so. He also particularly acknowledged the role of faith communities and their leaders in helping Scotland through the effects of the pandemic, and in promoting community harmony and good relations.
Two weeks later the Community was delighted to participate in the National Service of Thanksgiving and Dedication at St Giles' Cathedral, when the Scottish Crown Jewels, 'the Honours of Scotland', were presented to King Charles III who was accompanied by Queen Camilla and the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay. Hundreds of religious, political, civic, academic, military, and other community leaders from across Scotland were invited by the Lord Lyon and the Dean of the Chapel Royal, bringing together the whole diversity of Scottish society to celebrate the coronation.
The service was led by the minister of St Giles', and the Dean of the Chapel Royal and Dean of the Order of the Thistle; the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland gave the sermon, and leaders of other faith communities bestowed their blessings on the new King, including the Senior Rabbi in Scotland, Rabbi Moshe Rubin of Giffnock Newton Mearns Synagogue.
Rabbi Rubin commented, "The inclusion of all faiths and those of no faith in the service was a reflection of the King's hard work in reaching out to all people, and reflected very much on the multi-faith society the UK has become. The service was very moving but the key moment for me was when the King placed his hands on the crown, pledging his service and entrusting himself to reign as our King in the service of all his people. It felt like a moment of history being carried out with so much humility and modesty. In a time when so many of our traditions are being eroded and challenged, it was incredible to see how the ancient rituals of the service weaved their way and resonated with our modern times and culture."
SCoJeC Director Ephraim Borowski, who was also invited to the ceremony, added, "This was an historic event in every sense of the word – the ancient Stone of Destiny, a 15th century sceptre and a 16th century crown in a 12th century church, to honour a monarch in a modern adaptation of a time-honoured ritual with its origins in Biblical Jewish tradition. To see a Muslim First Minister read from the Hebrew Bible, and the leaders of so many faith communities take leading roles in the very home of John Knox’s Presbyterianism, really did epitomise how the new Scotland sees itself – diverse, inclusive, and welcoming. It was an honour and a privilege to be part of it."