Thanks to a substantial new grant from the National Heritage Lottery, work will begin this month (May) on construction of a new Scottish Jewish Heritage Centre at Glasgow’s historic Garnethill synagogue, with launch of the facility scheduled for summer 2019.
The Centre is a joint project of the Garnethill Synagogue Preservation Trust (GSPT), the formal owner of the synagogue — a Grade A listed building that was Scotland’s first purpose-built synagogue — and the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre (SJAC), which is housed in the building.
The confirmed grant of £296,900 to the SJAC and GSPT was announced earlier this month.
The announcement said the new grant “unlocks pledged grant support from The Association of Jewish Refugees, the Wolfson Family Charitable Trust and the Federal Republic of Germany and means the total capital works costs of £465,000 are now in place.”
The new grant is a second stage grant for the project from the Lottery Fund. It had first awarded a Development Grant (£52,000) to help prepare the second stage submission, which was made in November 2017.
The SJAC’s Deborah Haase, the Coordinator of the project, told JHE that
During the development phase we recruited specialist consultant architects and designers and business consultants and invested our own staff into the development of the content and volunteer and marketing plans. With all our plans in place and having pledges for capital funds from key trusts and organisations we submitted what is called a stage 2 application to the Heritage Lottery Fund which was successful. This has unlocked the pledges we secured for the balance of the capital funds needed. So now we really can progress to what is called the Delivery Phase we are planning on starting in May.
In a separatemet statement she said a volunteer team is working on strategy to raise “the £50,000 revenue funds that will be needed annually to maintain the Centre once it is up and running.”
The Centre is being planned as a facility that will educate school children, tourists and other visitors about the Scottish Jewish community and its contribution to Scottish society over its two centuries of existence.
The announcement of the go-ahead stated that it will include various components.
- Creating a Scottish Holocaust-era Study Centre to open up public access to the SJAC ‘s unique collections on this period, with resources for education, research, tourists and community groups.
- Creating a public display on the history and experience of refugees and survivors from the Nazi regime who found sanctuary and a chance to build a new life here in Scotland. This display will highlightand illustrate how Scottish society, churches, trade unions and others rallied to support refugees and the contributions which many of the refugees went on to make in their adopted homeland to Scottish cultural, medical, educational and business life.
- Opening up the historic Grade A Garnethill Synagogue to the public with a volunteer-led Weekday Guiding Service and with interpretation on the architecture and history of the building and some the early 19thcentury congregants who contributed to the development of the modern City of Glasgow.
- Recruiting and training volunteers to establish a School Visit Service, a Weekend Events and Activities Programme and a marketing programme, all designed to attract new audiences to find out about the building, the Archives collections and aspects of Scottish Jewish history and culture.
- Recruiting a Heritage Centre Manager to help take forward coordination and future management of the Centre.
- Creating a local heritage Walking Trail to widen awareness of the Holocaust-era history of the Garnethill district of Glasgow.
In addition, it said, the project includes a marketing pland and the development of hands-on learning resources.
It will also
carry out essential remedial works and refurbishment to the lower floor of the historic Victorian synagogue to facilitate flexible public use of underused spaces in the building, while allowing the congregation to continue [and] will create computer-based resources, including a digital catalogue of around 2000 key items from the Holocaust-era collections in the SJAC collections and digital access to the early editions of the weekly Glasgow-based Jewish Echo newspaper covering the period from 1928 to 1945.
In a related development, the six-year “Two Centuries of Scottish Jewry – A Demographic and Genealogical Profile” project has been completed. More than 100,000 Scottish Jews were identified and researched, representing what researcher believe is 98% of the community in the century before 1917 and about 90% of it in the century after that date. All the data assembled, mainly from online sources, has been computerized and is accessible to the public at the SJAC, in the form of a relational database, presenting an unprecedented “Family Tree of Scottish Jewry”. During the work, a much clearer understanding emerged of the origins of Jewish immigration into Scotland, its patterns of dispersal and integration, as well as its transience and onward migration west, primarily in the United States.
The results of the research were published in a book by Kenneth Collins, The Jewish Experience in Scotland: from Immigration to Integration (Glasgow, October 2016), and in a scholarly volume, edited by Kenneth Collins, Aubrey Newman and Bernard Wasserstein, Two Hundred Years of Scottish Jewry (Glasgow, February 2018).
A small mobile exhibition, encapsulating the story of Scottish Jewry, was also mounted — Click HERE to view it.