Scottish Council of Jewish Communites
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities

SCoJeC Activities
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The Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC) is the democratic organisation that represents the organised Jewish community in Scotland. The members of our Council are the elected representatives of each of the formally constituted Jewish communities in Scotland – Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee – as well as two looser groups – the Jewish Network of Argyll and the Highlands, and Jewish students studying in Scottish Universities and Colleges. The current co-opted members include a former judge and professor of law, a professor of social policy, a former senior civil servant, a consultant physician, and a senior social worker. In addition, we also maintain contact with a large number of unaffiliated individuals, both in rural locations from the Borders to the Outer isles, and in urban areas.

Our representative democratic constitution enables us to speak authoritatively in the name of the whole Community to government, parliament, churches, trades unions, the media, etc. And we consult as appropriate with the leadership of the orthodox, reform, and liberal communities, and with the management of relevant communal organisations before we speak on on matters that affect them such as welfare, charity law, education and youth work.

Our activities include:

Representing the Jewish community in Scotland to government and other official bodies by:

monitoring the Scottish Parliament and Government on a daily basis;

regular formal and informal contact with Ministers, MSPs and civil servants;

responding to official consultations that affect the Community, including Family Law, Charity Law, the census, shechitah, equalities,medical matters, anti-semitism, and child protection;
membership of the Scottish Government's consultative Faith Liaison Group;
membership of Scottish Parliament Cross Party Groups such as those on Race and on Human Rights;
representation on a wide range of Scottish-level bodies dealing with aspects of community relations, interfaith relations, Human Rights, equality matters, etc, such as the Boards of BEMIS (the Ethnic Minority umbrella body in Scotland), and Faith in Communities Scotland, the Scottish Inter-Faith Council, Policy Officers Network, and the Scottish Human Rights Coalition;
membership of advisory bodies such as the NHS Spiritual Care Development Committee, Lay Advisor groups to various police forces, and the Joint Faiths Advisory Board on Criminal Justice;
meetings with senior officers and officials of the Church of Scotland and the STUC;

organising occasional high profile events such as the Chief Rabbi’s visit to the Parliament.

Working in partnership with other organisations to promote good relations amongst community groups and to promote equality.

This includes collaboration with the Scottish Government and BEMIS on a variety of projects including MEMO (Minority Ethnic Matters Overview) a weekly electronic bulletin of information of interest to minority ethnic communities and MEMO+ an occasional series of briefing papers for ethnic minority communities on specific topics such as the election manifestos of the main political parties, equality legislation, etc.

Providing services to all of Scotland’s Jewish communities by:

organising briefings on current issues for communal professionals, lay leaders, and others on topics relevant to their organisations, such as child protection and D isclosure Scotland checks, the new "points-based" immigration system, charity law, fire safety in communal buildings, the Commission for Equality and Human Rights, women's issues, as well as briefings for teenagers on the Lebanon war and antisemitism.

processing child protection ("Disclosure") applications for most voluntary organisations in the Jewish community (including all communal youth groups, synagogues and educational organisations) as well as the Scottish Interfaith Council and others;

acting as "sponsor" for visitors to the community under the new "points-based" immigration system to enable, for example, a visiting rabbi to perform a wedding, or a communal organisations to bring volunteers from outwith the European Economic Area to participate in youth and other programmes;

acting as a clearing house for requests from the General Registrar to ensure the bona fides of any foreign officiant at a Jewish wedding in Scotland;

providing information to communal organisations on developing issues such as exemption from water rates, regulation of burial societies, and employment legislation;

responding to general enquiries from local authorities, hospital authorities, police, etc.

Supporting the smaller Scottish Jewish communities by:

publishing a quarterly newsletter, Four Corners, to provide information about events and activities across Scotland;

facilitating social and educational events in remote venues such as Lochgilphead, Oban, Skye, and the Borders;

responding to requests from rural local authorities, NHS boards, schools, police forces, etc.

Bringing Scottish issues to the attention of relevant UK Jewish organisations including the Board of Deputies, the Jewish Leadership Council, the Office of the Chief Rabbi, Shechitah UK, the Israeli Embassy, and the Community Security Trust.

Providing information to the wider public by:

publishing a Guidebook to Jewish Scotland on our website, giving information about communities and facilities throughout Scotland;

publishing Scotland's Jews, a guide to the history and concerns of the Scottish Community, and also including a brief guide to Jewish beliefs and practices;

making available through our website the Jewish Way of Life teaching resource (published by the Pears Foundation), with the assistance of Learning and Teaching Scotland;

responding to general enquiries and requests from local authorities, Procurators Fiscal, NHS boards, schools, police forces, etc;

responding to enquiries and requests from potential Jewish visitors to Scotland, such as the location of synagogues and kosher facilities;

responding to general enquiries and requests such as the availability of sheet music for Jewish wedding music for bagpipes!

Although we retain a close working relationship with the Board of Deputies of British Jews, one of the effects of Devolution is that the Scottish Government and other bodies expect to deal with organisations that are based and governed in Scotland, so that policy for Scotland is made in Scotland. SCoJeC's relationship to the Board of Deputies is therefore dictated by that of Holyrood to Westminster: we speak for the Jewish community in Scotland on Devolved matters such as justice, health and welfare, community relations, etc, whilde the Board of Deputies speaks for the entire UK Jewish community on Reserved matters such as foreign affairs, equality legislation, etc.

Our success depends upon our being seen to be taking an active interest in Scottish politics on behalf of the whole Jewish community of Scotland. Regular personal contact with a wide range of people and organisations in Scotland is crucial; networking – simply being seen – is a key part of our success.  The Deputy Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament has said that "The Scottish Council’s representatives are very effective at presenting the views of the Jewish community and are very familiar figures around the Parliament.  The Council is a role model for other communities."


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