It is very worrying times for Jews in the UK as we approach a new year 5779. We can no longer give Jeremy Corbyn benefit of doubt as it is crystal clear that not only does he have an intense dislike of Israel, he also does not like Jews. When you listen to his speeches throughout the years he never acknowledges the violence Israel faces, I find this very disturbing.
I am very fortunate that I have a father who was a past President of Glasgow Jewish Representative Council and understands fully the enormity of responsibility on one’s shoulders and when I seek his council and advice he always tells me that it was never any different for Jewish people, always anti-Semites out to discredit us with misinformation and lack of information, he reminds me to stay strong and calm, never lose faith and continue to do all in your power to counter the misinformation on Israel and our people that pollutes British Society. His words give me strength and resolve always, words of wisdom from a special brave man, born in 1922 and having seen so much happening to his people, K lal Yisroel.
The Glasgow Jewish Representative Council continues to work reaching out to the wider Scottish community and politicians, our work greatly enhanced by Danielle Bett, funded by the Jewish Leadership Council UK but directed here in Scotland jointly by GJRC and SCoJeC, working very closely and in harmony. Our two organisations have joined with Edinburgh Hebrew Congregation to create a Scottish Jewish Gathering Shabbaton weekend, 26th – 28th October in Edinburgh an exciting weekend for all – a national get together for Scottish Jews from all strands for a weekend of social, cultural and educational events, hosted by Edinburgh Hebrew Congregation. There will be a jamming session of Jewish musicians, a guided walk through Edinburgh, panel discussions, fabulous food, workshops and speakers.
Orli Schechter our Operations Director recently left the Council to take up a new challenge and we thank her for her outstanding performance and achievements over the last 4 years. We all wish Orli success in her new position with Giffnock Shul. Our sincere thanks to Board member Michael Clerck who guided us through the recruitment process and to Jewish Community Centre co-ordinator Philip Mendelsohn with Daniel Clapham who have been supporting the Co-presidents as our new Operations Director Lorne Jackson and Administrator Rachel Sinclair take on their new roles and running of the Council. Please contact Lorne or Rachel in the office for more information on the Scottish Jewish Gathering weekend, or if you want any other information, they are extremely helpful and gaining knowledge quickly.
Nicola and I are thrilled that new and younger Board members have taken on Executive positions, Raina Morris as Vice President, Barry Berlow-Jackson as Secretary, and Karen Levy as Treasurer.
We wish our Executive, our Board members and the Community a healthy happy year ahead. I will stay calm and strong and do everything in my power to stand up for our people, just as my father has always advised me.
Evy Yedd, Co-President, Glasgow Jewish Representative Council.
It is indeed sad and unsettling that not only has there been a rise in antisemitism, especially on social media, but that the issues with the Labour Party have been dominating the News in the last few months. Whilst it has enabled a wider debate to take place, it has also pushed many Jewish people into situations where they have been expected to defend their Jewish identity. Indeed antisemitism is a significant issue, but it is not the only issue and we must not let it overshadow the positive aspects of Jewish life and our community’s place in civic society.
We have good friends and close allies amongst public figures such as politicians and faith leaders and also our personal friends and colleagues, I believe we must celebrate and treasure these relationships and take strength from them.
It has, as ever, been a busy year and we have been working on a number of projects that will enhance the lives of the Glasgow community. The new Calderwood Lodge joint campus site is now a year old. The pupils, teachers and families have many positive stories and this innovative setting has attracted attention from around the world. Discussions continue with a number of community organisations about the potential for development of a new shared building or repurposing of existing buildings in order to provide more user friendly facilities that are attractive and are no longer such a drain on communal funds. One of our new Trustees has begun looking at ways to promote the community, and its activities, both in order to encourage local people to become more involved, and also to show people from further afield what a wonderful place this is to live and work.
There are many thoughts about the significance of Rosh Hashanah; it is not just a time to our renew relationship with G-d, or with whatever our Judaism means to us, but importantly also with each other. Community doesn’t exist in a vacuum, but is constructed by relationships and Rosh Hashanah isn’t just about being new, it’s about change and how we move forward in a positive way.
As we dip our challah and apple in honey in the hope of a sweet year, let us find new ways to reach out to those who feel they don’t belong, not just inviting them to join us, but looking at ways we can change to make what we offer more welcoming.
With many thanks to the calm and steady support of my co-president, as well as all our Trustees who work hard make sure that the interests of the community are represented in so many different spheres and who provide the checks and balances that enable us to make decisions and speak with a united voice. Wishing all the community, friends and family across the globe, L’shanah Tovah, a healthy, happy and peaceful year ahead.
Nicola Livingston, Co-President, Glasgow Jewish Representative Council