The rain held off for the day of the SCoJeC AGM so that barbecue chef Joe Azoulay, with assistants Esther Finlay and Lynne Azoulay, was able to put on an excellent spread. More than twenty adults and children from Glasgow, Edinburgh, and the Highlands, as well as the Tayside and Fife community came to Dundee for the occasion and enjoyed the food, chat, and music before the meeting.
Chair Hilary Rifkind, Director Ephraim Borowski, and Outreach and Project Worker Fiona Frank, presented reports on the enormous amount of work that SCoJeC has undertaken this year. We have liaised with government and other relevant bodies on a wide range of issues of relevance to Jewish people across Scotland, including welfare reform, the census, public exams scheduled for yom tov, problems encountered by Jewish students studying at Scottish universities, shechitah, and hate crime, and have submitted responses to a wide range of consultations issued by the Scottish Government and other relevant bodies. In addition, we have continued to produce the weekly MEMO digest of information of interest to minority ethnic communities in Scotland, as well as our quarterly newsletter Four Corners, have followed up the Being Jewish in Scotland project with a series of well-attended outreach events across Scotland, supported the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council with its Jewish Community Futures consultation, and piloted Jewish Inter-Links to enable Jewish students and young people to help older people to access the Internet in order to improve contact with children and grandchildren who live outwith Scotland. We are also sponsoring photographer Judah Passow‘s project to record and celebrate of the Jewish community in Scotland, and a Genealogical Study of Scottish Jewry funded by the Rothschild Foundation to research and document the history of the community. Throughout all of this, our priority remains a safe, comfortable, and secure future for the Jewish community in Scotland.
One major issue that SCoJeC responded to this year, and which dominated the AGM, was the Church of Scotland’s recent General Assembly report The Inheritance of Abraham? A report on the ‘promised land’. After we and others had protested strongly at its bias, misrepresentation, and tendentiousness, the Council of Christians and Jews convened a meeting, attended by both the Church of Scotland and representatives of the Jewish community, at which the Church representatives agreed that the drafting of the report had given cause for concern, and agreed to revise the document. However, despite this undoubted success, and the removal of some of the more offensive language, the main themes remained: misrepresentation of mainstream Jewish belief and the history of Zionism, supersessionist “replacement theology”, and a complete lack of balance in its approach to the Middle East. Despite this, the revised document was approved at the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly, after an amendment calling for further dialogue with the Jewish Community was defeated. SCoJeC issued a statement deeply regretting this, the more especially since evidence from our Being Jewish in Scotland project demonstrates that such one-sided polemic contributes to a climate in which Jewish people in Scotland feel uncomfortable, alienated and unsafe. The report itself, and SCoJeC's response, were the subject of heated discussion at the AGM. It was unanimously agreed that the report was completely unacceptable, but a small number disagreed that the Church had closed the door on dialogue, whilst others suggested that, as there was a division of opinion about the underlying issue, SCoJeC should not express any view.
The AGM also discussed SCoJeC's recent review of priorities and strategy, and concluded that we are doing the right things, doing them very well, and doing them exceptionally economically. It was, however, recognised that the current level of work is not sustainable without additional personnel, so the the AGM agreed to advertise for a part time Public Affairs Officer to assist with SCoJeC’s representative function with government and public authorities, and to liaise with other external bodies and communal organisations.
Click here to read the AGM reports.
The new executive are: