We held several Being Jewish in Scotland events and focus groups in Edinburgh, involving members of both the orthodox and liberal communities, as well as people unaffiliated to either. "The sky's the limit once you get a few people in a room and the ideas start flowing" said one participant, as the group discussed the possibility of holding a Jewish arts festival in the city.
When SCoJeC Council member and Chair of the Edinburgh Liberal Jewish Community, Gillian Raab, offered to host a Being Jewish in Scotland dinner for Jewish people in the Edinburgh area who are not affiliated to either her own community or the Orthodox Edinburgh Hebrew Congregation, we didn't expect a large turnout. We couldn't, however, have been more mistaken! In the end seventeen were squeezed around Gillian’s dining room table, and another six, who were unable to attend, have asked to be included in future events.
After entertainment provided by the Edinburgh-based klezmer band Beyond the Pale, everyone enjoyed a three-course supper – brought on the train by SCoJeC's project worker Fiona Frank!
A common theme to the evening's discussion was "denying Jewishness", as several participants had relatives who had been very secretive about their Jewish identity. During the course of our Being Jewish in Scotland project, we have been told by a number of people that they only learned they were Jewish as a teenager or adult, and, not surprisingly, it had come as a shock to them.
The discussion also touched on ways of meeting other Jewish people, and it was felt that some are more likely to attend the synagogue in small communities such as Edinburgh, than they are in large communities where there are many other opportunities to meet Jewish people, for example, at cultural events.
A very good time was had by all, and the group hopes to meet again to enjoy more dinners and other events.