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


Being Jewish in Scotland

August 2013

SCoJeC's Being Jewish in Scotland project, is the first comprehensive study of the things that matter to Jewish people throughout Scotland, and has highlighted areas of potential learning for the Scottish Government, the Health, Education, and Employment sectors, Local Authorities, faith groups, and others in responding to the expressed concerns of the Jewish community. These include issues around the provision of kosher food, particularly in hospitals and schools; the provision of education to improve understanding of
the Jewish religion and the Scottish Jewish community in the wider community; education and training to provide staff in, for example, schools, universities, and workplaces, with a better understanding of what constitutes antisemitism and racism; the development and implementation by organisations of policies stating that racist name-calling and incidents are never acceptable; and setting out clear and effective response procedures.

The project has also highlighted areas for the Jewish Community itself to address. These Include concerns about: the decline of the Jewish communal infrastructure in Scotland, the need for greater cooperation amongst the various communal organisations, the provision of Jewish religious and cultural education for adults and children, and arrangements for religious burial, especially in the smaller communities and for individuals living outwith any community.

See below for SCoJeC's recommendations arising from the project, or click here to read the full findings.


Staff should receive adequate training about all the main faiths in Scotland to enable them to respond appropriately to the needs of pupils, parents, and colleagues.

Schools should ensure that curricular and extra-curricular activities are inclusive, and do not cause pupils to feel excluded, or pressurised to participate in religious or cultural activities that are contrary to their own beliefs.

Educational materials for teaching about religions must be referred to the relevant community for checking. When this does not take place errors may frequently be incorporated which may result in an inaccurate, and possibly even a negative, impression of the community concerned.

Where possible, examinations and other key events should not take place on Shabbat or on the festival days of any religion. If this is unavoidable, alternative arrangements must be made to prevent students or staff from being placed at a disadvantage.

Schools should ensure that pupils are not singled out or treated as ‘experts’ to teach their contemporaries about their religion, and that Jewish pupils are not singled out during teaching on the Holocaust.

Schools should ensure that Jewish pupils are never singled out when the Middle East is being discussed, and that staff are supported to present a balanced view on the Middle East.

University authorities and Higher Education institutions should take steps to ensure that Jewish staff and students are able to study and work on campus without feeling discomfort and fear.

Health Service

Male circumcision is a religious requirement, and medical and nursing staff should provide appropriate medical support. Families should not be made to feel uncomfortable or worse for having chosen to exercise their religious beliefs.

Health authorities should clarify to patients why they request information about religion and ethnic background: as well as relating to food and religious practice, this may also relate to medical issues, for example conditions like Tay Sachs disease and certain types of breast cancer that are more prevalent in Ashkenazi Jews.

Jewish Community

Communal organisations should work more closely together in order to provide a more effective and joined-up service to Jewish people throughout Scotland.

Communal leaders and organisations should plan for the changing demographic of the community.

In order to promote community cohesion and confidence among their members, communal organisations should facilitate continuing discussions on a wide range of issues related to Jewish identity and experience.

Wider community

Organisations, including councils, the health and social services, and education providers, should be aware that there are Jewish people living in every council area in Scotland, and culturally appropriate services should be included in their local plans. In some cases, it may be both more efficient and more effective to subcontract certain services to a specialist provider, such as Jewish Care.

Since levels of religious observance differ, hospitals, schools, conference venues, and residential institutions should routinely ask about dietary requirements. When kosher food is requested, this should always be sourced from a provider with an appropriate rabbinic certification.

Workplaces and educational establishments should ensure that they have clear and effective policies for responding to racist incidents, including name-calling, and that staff receive adequate training to ensure that these are always fully implemented.


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Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation no. SC029438