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


First Minister’s first visit to first synagogue!

26 October 2015
First Minister in Garnethill Synagogue

SCoJeC was delighted to arrange for the First Minister to visit a synagogue after she mentioned when we met her in June that she had never previously done so.

Her visit was to the historic Garnethill Synagogue, which is often described as the ‘Mother Synagogue of Glasgow'. This opened in 1879, and was the first purpose built synagogue in Scotland.  It is now an A-listed building of Special Architectural or Historic Interest.  Appropriately, the building now also houses the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre.

First Minister's visit to Garnethill Synagogue

Ms Sturgeon was greeted by SCoJeC Director Ephraim Borowski and Public Affairs Officer Nicola Livingston, and then given a tour of the prayer hall, which Jewish Heritage UK has described as one of the top ten historic synagogues in the UK, by Gerald Levin of the Garnethill Hebrew Congregation, which still worships there, Bernard Goodman of the Garnethill Preservation Trust, which owns and maintains the building itself, and Rabbi Moshe Rubin, the Senior Rabbi in Scotland, who explained the religious function and significance of some of the architectural features and showed her a Torah scroll. 

The First Minister‘s party then moved downstairs to the Jewish Archives Centre, where she was given a guided tour by Curator Deborah Haase and Manager Fiona Brodie, and was presented with a copy of the Centre’s most recent publication, Jewish Glasgow, An Illustrated History. Ms Sturgeon expressed particular interest in the history of the Jewish Community in the Gorbals and the south side of Glasgow, since her constituency includes these areas which had been so significant in the history of Glasgow’s Jewish Community for much of the twentieth century.

Commenting on her visit, the First Minister said:

First Minister's visit to Garnethill Synagogue

"We value and appreciate our relationship with Scotland’s Jewish communities, and welcome their contribution and input into our nation’s civic life. The facilities at Garnethill Synagogue in Glasgow provide an excellent educational resource for everyone and help to raise awareness of the Jewish heritage in Scotland.

Garnethill Synagogue is a beautiful example of the stylistic architecture that was typical all over Europe in the 19th Century. It is clear to see why the building is cherished by the community and remains an active place of worship. It was fascinating to hear from Rabbi Moshe Rubin about the traditions that still remain part of an Orthodox service.

It is right that this building should be included within the top ten of historic synagogues in the UK by Jewish Heritage UK and also feature as a Glasgow City Council listed heritage building, described as the ‘Mother Synagogue of Glasgow'.

Good archives are essential to understanding the rich history of this country. With thanks to the hard work of the curators at Scottish Jewish Archives Centre the rich social history of the Jewish community in Scotland has been preserved and recorded for the ages."

SCoJeC Director, Ephraim Borowski, said:

“We were delighted to be able to arrange for the First Minister not only to visit a synagogue for the first time, but to do so in what is undoubtedly the most iconic building in the Community.  The collaboration between Garnethill Synagogue and the Archives Centre is at once a reminder of the heyday of the Community and a token of how it has adapted as both the Community and the country have changed.  We were very gratified by the interest the First Minister showed in the tangible symbols of both the Jewish religion and the Jewish Community, and we welcome her continued commitment to engaging with us to ensure the safety and well-being of Jewish people in Scotland.”


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Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation no. SC029438