First Minister Humza Yousaf has always spoken with warmth about having been brought up in the heart of Scotland's largest Jewish community and having many Jewish friends, neighbours, and fellow-pupils at school. He referred to this again in his speech at the Solidarity Service in Giffnock Newton Mearns Synagogue when he expressed support for the victims of the Hamas terrorist atrocity in Israel that had taken place on Simchat Torah, saying:
"Many of you know I was brought up in this community, with Jewish neighbours most of my life. We shared culture, traditions and even food – I still miss receiving my batch of Sufganiyot during Hannukah."
SCoJeC was pleased to fill that void on the first evening of Chanukah, when SCoJeC Director Ephraim Borowski and his wife Margalit presented the First Minister with a box of sufganiyot (Chanukah doughnuts) for him to enjoy with his family. Although it was a particularly busy day for him, with First Minister's Questions in the afternoon, and he had to send his apologies for the Presiding Officer's chanukiah-lighting in the evening because of an emergency Cabinet meeting about the budget, he made time to invite us to his office in the Scottish Parliament for a relaxed and wide-ranging conversation.
Posting on X after the meeting, the First Minister thanked us "for bringing Giffnock's finest sufganiyot to the Scottish Parliament, as Chanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights gets under way. A reminder, in spite of the darkness of recent times, of the power of light and of hope."
Ephraim commented: "We are very grateful to the First Minister for making the time to meet in order to deliver his Chanukah greetings in person. Despite the short time available we were able to speak about a wide range of topics that matter not just to Jewish people in Scotland but to many other communities, in particular the importance of respecting communities' sense of their own identity, and how the Scottish Government can help promote good community relations especially at times of crisis. We shared our concerns for ordinary people caught up in the conflict in Israel and Gaza, and the unprecedented sense of vulnerability of Jewish people in Scotland, and agreed that foreign conflicts most not be allowed to spill over and make people feel threatened or at risk on the streets of Scotland."