SCoJeC's new project has got off to a flying start after more than 20 people indicated that they would like to get involved in helping the community to respond to requests for talks about Judaism from schools and other groups.
This is part of SCoJeC's year-long "cluster project" to expand Jewish volunteering in Scotland that was awarded £30 000 by the Volunteer Action Fund earlier in the year, which also involves the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council, the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre, and the Edinburgh Liberal Jewish Community, Sukkat Shalom. As the lead organisation, we are working with our partners to recruit new volunteers, improve their capacity to deploy, support, and train volunteers, and enhance volunteers' skills and personal development, to undertake activities that will make a difference in their communities.
To get our partnership with the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council off the ground we circulated a questionnaire, and had responses from more than 20 people who said that they had some experience of this type of work and were keen to become involved with the project. As a result, volunteers from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, and Aberdeen came together for an introductory meeting at the Jewish Community Centre in Giffnock. Some had brought educational materials with them, and they split into three groups to share their experiences, and explore the various aspects of explaining Judaism and the local Jewish community to school children, interfaith groups, and the wide range of visitors who want to visit a synagogue.
Only two of the volunteers had previously received any training for their work, and all of them were excited by the opportunity to attend courses that would help them answer questions about a wide range of aspects of Judaism and the Jewish Community, including religious and social topics, communal structures and facilities, the history of Jews in Scotland, Israel, and the Holocaust.
"I was impressed by the group," said one participant. "Often you think you are working on your own." Another said: "I just enjoyed the experience and want to do more", while a volunteer from one of Scotland's smaller communities declared: "I haven't enjoyed Jewish company like this for years."
SCoJeC Projects and Outreach Manager Fiona Frank commented: "It was a fantastic start to the project. Everyone was really enthusiastic and put so much into the meeting and the group gelled very well. Their input was extremely useful. We'd be delighted to have more people involved, and will be organising further meetings over the coming months to plan the most appropriate content, format and dates for training."