Scottish Council of Jewish Communites
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities

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Scottish Council of Jewish Communities
Representing, connecting, and supporting Jewish people in Scotland

Chief Rabbi visits the Scottish Parliament
23 November 2011
the Chief Rabbi presents Time for Reflection

SCoJeC is delighted to have arranged the Chief Rabbi’s first visit to the Scottish Parliament for six years.  As he did on his previous visits in 2002 and 2005, the Chief Rabbi led the Time for Reflection that opens the plenary meeting of the Scottish Parliament each Wednesday, as well as meeting political and church leaders.

The Chief Rabbi wit First Minister Alex Salmond, and SCoJeC Director Ephraim Borowski, and Deputy Director Leah Granat

During the meeting with First Minister Alex Salmond, we discussed the Scottish Government’s commitment to tackling religious hatred, including through the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Bill which is currently being considered by the Parliament.  The Chief Rabbi also spoke about how faith communities can contribute to promoting community cohesion and integration. Although they had not met previously, Lord Sacks and Alex Salmond both contributed prefaces to Scotland’s Jews, a guide to the history and community of the Jews in Scotland, published by SCoJeC in 2008.

The Chief Rabbi with Annabel Goldie
The Chief Rabbi with Iain Gray

After their meeting the First Minister commented "I am delighted to have met the Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks for the first time today. Our discussions have reflected the fact that Scotland's diversity of cultures and faiths has always been a source of great strength.  Each culture and faith brings with it values, ideas and innovations that enrich our arts, science, language and national life, and Scotland's Jewish community is a valued part of that rich cultural fabric that makes up our nation."

The Chief Rabbi with Patrick Harvie
The Chief Rabbi with Willie Rennie

Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks said: "For many years, Scottish Jewry has managed to achieve the delicate balance of integration without assimilation, combining strong loyalty to our Jewish faith and way of life, with a deep attachment to Scottish culture and identity. This is something that is deeply understood and appreciated by the First Minister Alex Salmond, and it was a pleasure meeting him today for what was a positive discussion across a range of important topics."

The Chief Rabbi addresses MSPs and faith leaders
The Chief Rabbi with Elaine Smith

The same topics were also raised with Lord Sacks by the leaders by the leaders of the other political parties, with some of whom he also discussed the current economic climate, and youth unemployment. He explained that it is a religious obligation for Jewish people to address the issue of unemployment, since helping someone to find work is regarded as the highest level of charity.  

The Chief Rabbi with Cardinal Keith O'Brien and Stewart Maxwell MSP
The Chief Rabbi with the Moderator and Principal Clerk of the Church of Scotland

He also held meetings with the Moderator, and the Principal Clerk of the Church of Scotland, and Cardinal Keith O'Brien, before addressing a well-attended lunch-time meeting of MSPs and faith leaders, and a meeting of Jewish students. 

The Chief Rabbi in St Andrews
The Chief Rabbi addresses a meeting in Newton Mearns

The Chief Rabbi then travelled to Glasgow for a public meeting with the Jewish Community, before returning to the east coast to meet Jewish students in St Andrews, and community and students in Aberdeen, before receiving an honorary degree from Aberdeen University.

The Chief Rabbi at Aberdeen Synagogue
The Chief Rabbi at Aberdeen Synagogue

He summed up his whirlwind tour by saying "It was such a privilege for me to visit Scotland again and meet with senior parliamentarians, local Jewish communities and Jewish students in Edinburgh, Glasgow, St. Andrews and Aberdeen. I pay tribute to the tireless efforts of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities who do so much to represent and protect Jewish life in Scotland."

The Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks
The Chief Rabbi at Aberdeen Synagogue
The Chief Rabbi receives an honorary degree from Aberdeen University


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