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Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)


Klezmer in Kirkgunzeon!
11 March 2012

by Ashley Medicks

Klezmer in Kirkgunzeon

Something rather special is beginning to happen across Scotland! We Jews are getting together! As a result of the sterling efforts of Fiona Frank and SCoJeC, and stimulated by the survey currently underway into “what it’s like being Jewish in Scotland”, Jewish people, some living in remote areas, unaware of any other ‘brethren’ in their vicinity, are being given the wonderful opportunity of meeting up.

Such an event took place at our cottage, on a farm in Kirkgunzeon near Dumfries, on a glorious sunny day recently. To say that everyone who attended enjoyed  themselves would be an understatement. Prior to this event, if I had been asked what I miss most about not having any contact with other Jewish people, I would have said that our common identity and history, the food, the festivals, the sense of humour, would spring to mind. Many of these things, including wonderful music, were present at our event.

Some people we knew, and others we had never met, turned up, not knowing quite what to expect. Fiona then arrived, laden with kosher delectables and her concertina, along with the other members of her klezmer band. We wandered about outside and in, getting to know each other in a very relaxed fashion, while the band set up in our conservatory, and got ready to play.

What then transpired was something quite special. Good old-fashioned Yiddisher fun! The band played, the singer sang, and some couldn’t help but dance. Wow! Little did we know that this was their first gig ever! Somehow, Fiona had gathered them together, and produced a little piece of magic for us to enjoy wholeheartedly. By this time, as you can imagine, we had all built up some impressive appetites, so we tucked into the food while the conversations grew more and more relaxed as we got to know each other better.

Gordon Cockburn at Kirkgunzeon

Later, I asked Fiona if she thought it would be good to hear from our dear friend Gordon Cockburn, whom we had met at an exhibition of his truly remarkable Auschwitz paintings at his gallery in Maybole. He spoke about how, as a non-Jewish artist, he had visited the camp in the 90s, and been so moved by the experience that he has, ever since, had a compulsion to paint the nightmare images that are in his head.

After Gordon sat down to well-deserved applause, the day, which had been so much enjoyed by all of us, was rounded off by Fiona conducting a focus group discussion on “what it’s like being Jewish in Scotland”. Our sincere thanks to all who attended, especially SCoJec and Fiona, for making this event so remarkable, and so much fun.


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Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation no. SC029438