Mazel tov! The new Scottish Jewish Heritage Center (JHC) has opened at Glasgow’s historic Garnethill synagogue.
It officially opened its doors on July 27 — and at the same time launched a dedicated web site.
The Centre is a partnership project between the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre (SJAC) and the Garnethill Synagogue Preservation Trust (GSPT), alongside Garnethill Hebrew Congregation – all based in the Synagogue, a Grade A listed building that was Scotland’s first purpose-built synagogue and which retains its original stained glass windows, furniture and fittings. The GSPT took over care and management of the synagogue from the congregation in 2012.
The Center was conceived 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 and will also expand public access to the synagogue itself.
“Visitors will be able to appreciate its beautiful architecture and learn about its history,” a news release said.
The release said the Center had
new interpretative displays, a study room housing a specialist reference library, digital research resources and a school visit facility. Major building restoration and renovation work in the lower level of the synagogue has improved public access to underused spaces. New displays now reveal the history of Glasgow’s Jewish community, and explore the period from 1933 to the 1950s when Scotland responded to events in Nazi Germany and took in a number of refugees.
As part of the project, the sukkah in the synagogue courtyard was refurbished as exhibition space.
Nearly £530,000 in capital funds were invested in the project, the release said. Though planning began in 2014, on-site work began in May 2018, thanks to a substantial grant of £296,900 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
The capital works have been funded by generous grants from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, The Association of Jewish Refugees, The Wolfson Family Charitable Trust, The Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany, Edinburgh, The Community Security Trust and the Architectural Heritage Fund – William Grant Foundation. Key to the development has been the creation of the post of SJHC Manager, Kerry Patterson who took up the post in April 2021. The recruitment and training of new volunteers to help deliver the new public services has now resumed in line with Covid-19 restrictions.
The Scottish Jewish Heritage Centre project includes
- Creating a Scottish Holocaust-era Study Centre to open up public access to the SJAC ‘s unique collections on this period.
- 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 illustrates how Scottish society supported refugees and shows the contributions that many of the refugees made to Scottish life.
- Increasing access to the synagogue with a volunteer-led Weekday Guiding Service to give access to interpretation on the building and information about the 19th century congregation members who contributed to the development of Glasgow.
Recruiting and training volunteers for a School Visit Service, a Weekend Events and Activities Programme and a marketing programme.
- Recruiting a Heritage Centre Manager to help take forward coordination and future management of the Centre.
- Creating a local heritage trail to widen awareness of the refugee-era history of the Garnethill area during the Second World War.
- Putting in place long-term management to operate the Centre
- Revenue fundraising to cover the first five years of operating costs