Jewish Lives, Scottish Spaces: Jewish Migration to Scotland, 1880-1950

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: Sch of Divinity

Abstract

As Jews in Scotland moved between and within, into and out of local and transnational spaces, the objects they saved, used and created reveal how Jews self-identified as they negotiated issues such as antisemitism, assimilation, cultural loss, memory and the Holocaust, nationalism and belonging. The materiality of such Scottish Jewish 'memory objects' testifies to the visibility of aspects of the past in the immediate environment of people's new lives in Scotland. The location and placement of these items within a Scottish landscape offers a rich ground for the investigation of various processes of cultural transition and provides a link to the study of the city and Jewish space, thus making the best use of the available archival resources and material evidence.

This project draws primarily on the collections of the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre (SJAC), the largest and continually growing repository of items relating to Jewish migration to and life in Scotland. Other relevant primary sources are located in the Mitchell Library in Glasgow, the Edinburgh and Glasgow City Archives, the National Library of Scotland and the National Records of Scotland. These collections relate to the project's objectives as follows:

1) The SJAC's collections on the history of the Jewish religious communities in Scotland since the late nineteenth century, particularly the written records and material objects surviving the closures of synagogues across all Scottish regions will form the primary source material. We will draw on records of communities and their leaders, notably migrant ministers and rabbis who shaped the religious outlook of the communities in the first half of the twentieth century. Material evidence from surviving synagogue libraries and prayer book collections will provide further evidence here. In addition, the material collected by individuals (archived documents, images, objects), interviews and (un-)published memoirs held in the SJAC will add an important dimension to understanding the development of Jewish religious life in Scotland.

2) By mapping and examining the SJAC's extensive collection of memoirs, drawings, biographies, and taped oral histories of survivors and refugees, we will uncover the impact of World War II and the Holocaust on Scottish-Jewish collective identity, and how Jewish refugees yet again transformed the Scottish landscape in the post-war period.

3) Patterns of Jewish settlement are a way of observing the transformation of city spaces into Jewish spaces. Our project will trace the perception of Glasgow's and Edinburgh's Jewish spaces in the Jewish and Scottish imagination. We will trace changes in the interpretation of parts of the cities by their resident Jewish and non-Jewish populations. Drawing on Edinburgh and Glasgow City Archives, and the National Library of Scotland this project will engage surviving building structures, architectural plans, autobiographical and fictional accounts of Jewish life in Edinburgh and Glasgow to understand better the performance of religious and cultural identities of this immigrant population in the first half of the twentieth century.

4) Our inquiry will focus on the invention of a Scottish-Jewish cultural tradition and the material culture that informs this development. Through the SJAC's collections we will examine the influence of Scottish-Jewish artists such as Hannah Frank, Benno Schotz and Hilda Goldwag, playwrights such as Avram Greenbaum, and the Glasgow Jewish Institute Players, and examine how their aesthetic and cultural contributions influenced Scotland's artistic landscape. A study of the extensive collection of Yiddish books stored in Glasgow's Mitchell library (originally from the public library in the Gorbals district, historically inhabited by immigrants) will indicate what Jewish migrants were reading, the books they imported, and give insight into intellectual and linguistic trends emerging during this period.

Planned Impact

Who might benefit from the research?

This research primarily benefits third sector bodies and local communities. The impact extends indirectly also to public sector agencies and professional groups. Among others these are

- The Scottish Jewish Archives Centre (SJAC)
- The Scottish Jewish communities and the UK Jewish communities more widely
- Political parties, politicians
- Teachers
- Refugee associations

How might they benefit?

The SJAC is a primary beneficiary. Its collections will be easier to access as a result of digitisation, thus allowing a wider range of researchers and members of the public to engage with its significant holdings. Furthermore, the website highlighting our research findings to the public will enhance the local communities' awareness about the SJAC's holdings, allowing individuals to deposit material in the knowledge that it will be stored securely and made available to researchers in the future. This project will also enable the SJAC to apply for additional funding to extend its space and ensure that its resources are well cared for and available to members of the academy and the public in perpetuity.

The Scottish Jewish communities will benefit from this project. Making the history of the communities accessible to subsequent generations and the wider public preserves heritage and instils pride in the origins of and contributions made by these communities. The wider local community and the general public will benefit from the research findings through their dissemination online, and through a series of public events (see Pathways to Impact). The portable exhibition will tour cultural and religious communities within and outwith Scotland, accompanied by talks given by the PI, Co-I and RA.

Political parties, politicians, teachers and refugee associations will benefit from this project by gaining greater knowledge about one of this country's migrant populations through a series of targeted events and dissemination strategies (see Pathways to Impact). Information on the project's website directly addressing the needs of teachers will be developed in consultation with colleagues in education (see Pathways to Impact). These activities will enable better appreciation of the varied ways of interpreting notions of national identifications and belonging.

Publications

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Alexander P (2019) Narratives of here and of elsewhere in Scottish Jewish Music: Meyer Fomin and Isaac Hirshow in Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies

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Alexander, Phil (2019) Introduction: Narrative spaces at the margins of British-Jewish culture(s) in Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies

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Holtschneider, Hannah (2019) Narrating the archive? Family collections, the archive, and the historian in Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies

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Spiro Mia (2019) Exhibiting Jewish Culture in Post-War Britain: Glasgow's 1951 Festival of Jewish Arts in Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies

 
Title 'Points of Arrival' - a series of 5 short films 
Description A series of five short films designed for use in primary and secondary schools. Created in collaboration with filmmaker Chris Leslie (CL Productions), each film tells the story of a historical Jewish migrant to Scotland. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact Films now being used with teaching partners with a view to developing further teaching resources (including citizenship, RME, history, personal research). 
URL http://jewishmigrationtoscotland.is.ed.ac.uk/index.php/2018/10/23/points-of-arrival-a-series-of-shor...
 
Description Our research split into four areas of inquiry: the development of Jewish religious and cultural life in Scotland, a contribution to understand the impact on Jewish memory of Jewish migration and flight to Scotland, mapping and analysing urban spaces in Scotland's two largest cities, and an examination of the influence of Scottish Jewish artists on Scottish and Jewish cultural production. Each of these areas of inquiry was linked to an distinct body of primary sources, largely located in the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre (SJAC), but also found in other local repositories. A key part of our work was to survey and map resources and make them more clearly accessible to other researchers.

Our publications address all four research areas, and the forthcoming publication of a digitised sample of the SJAC's collections on the project website (http://jewishmigrationtoscotland.is.ed.ac.uk/) offers researchers a map of the archive on which to build their own inquiries. The content for digitisation was selected in conversation with the project partner, the SJAC.

The SJAC collections proved to be so rich and varied, that we had to limit inquiry and focus on specific archival holdings only. Thus our mapping exercise showcases the breadth of what is found in the archive in Garnethill. Our publications address the research areas through specific documentary and artefactual holdings. We have collected an excess of archival materials which will feed into future research and publication directly following on from this project.

The SJAC's resources on family history of refugees from Nazi Germany to Scotland has contributed to an emerging research focus in Holocaust Studies. There are research collaborations arising with scholars in England, and we hope to develop a new project out a pilot writing project.
Exploitation Route There is rich scope to continue research begun with our project. Others may wish to deepen research into Jewish religious history in Scotland. There are resources relating to individual religious leaders in the SJAC and in the National Library of Scotland (NLS), notably the archive of the Daiches Family. Salis Daiches left many manuscripts of sermons and speeches. These were discovered during our project and are now in the NLS awaiting conservation work. Research here may be particularly helpful to the broadening field of Jewish transmigration studies. Our project has contributed to the digitisation of oral history interviews in the SJAC. These are now much more easily accessible in the SJAC itself and can form the basis of cross-disciplinary inquiry into migrant identities, cultural production, and urban space. The finding of large personal collections (such as Sim/Oppenheim, Frank, Goldwag) are helpful to researchers working on Holocaust history and the impact of migration and flight on subsequent generations.

Outwith academia there is much scope for working with our findings. The films mentioned above are a key point for education, and we are planning further work with teachers. The Heritage sector is enhanced by the Walking Tour 'Jewish Edinburgh on Foot', and the films will form an integral part of the Scottish Jewish Heritage Centre under development in Garnethill Synagogue. The latter project is led by the SJAC and thus our project partner will directly benefit from our research and impact strategy.
Sectors Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL http://jewishmigrationtoscotland.is.ed.ac.uk
 
Description The findings of my research on the history of the Jewish community of Edinburgh have contributed to an impact output: a walking tour of Jewish Edinburgh which I co-curated with the Edinburgh Jewish Literary Society. The tour was launched in July 2017 and 5 guided tours were held in July, August and September 2017. In January 2018 a self-guided version of the tour was launched in co-operation with the Curious Edinburgh project. Details about the tour and the app can be found at the following URL: https://jewishstudies.div.ed.ac.uk/edinburgh-jewish-walks/ In autumn 2018 the project team launched a series of short films about Jewish immigrants to Scotland. Each three-minute film concentrates on a historical Jewish immigrant to Scotland - where they came from, when and how they arrived, and their subsequent life here. Their stories are told by contemporary narrators, whose own lives resonate strongly with their subject matter. The films are intended for classroom use and offer many possibilities for engaging students with the history of migration to Britain, the impact of migration on individuals, the reception of refugees, the contribution of immigrants to their new surroundings and communities. Introduction and links to the 5 films: http://jewishmigrationtoscotland.is.ed.ac.uk/index.php/2018/10/23/points-of-arrival-a-series-of-short-films-from-the-jewish-lives-scottish-spaces-project/ Direct link to all the films, including 20min full compilation: https://vimeo.com/user82357432/videos/page:1/sort:alphabetical/format:thumbnail Further steps to generate impact from the films: we have run a pilot with teachers from Edinburgh and Dundee using a couple of the films in S3 / KS3. Feedback from this process has given us enough steer to formulate a follow-on funding application for the AHRC which we will submit in February 2019. This is to generate resource packs for teachers to accompany the films, so they can be used across different subject areas in secondary / high schools.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural

 
Description Press coverage 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact STV News Broadcast on 'Points of Arrival' Films, 14.2.2019.
Local and national newspaper coverage of the films: Scotsman, Edinburgh Evening News, Glasgow Herald.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Public event as part of Book Week Scotland: 'Celebrating Glasgow's Jewish Book Week in Poetry, Story and Song' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A public presentation bringing together scholars, lay historians, musicians, and the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre. The event was part of Book Week Scotland 2017 and the presentations covered diverse aspects of Jewish history from Scotland and beyond. The event was held at the Mitchell Library Glasgow and attended by over 60 people (full capacity). Much discussion and interest sparked from the Jewish and local community, as well as a new opportunity for the Scottish Jewish Archvies Centre to disseminate their work.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.whatsonglasgow.co.uk/event/053710-celebrating-glasgow's-jewish-book-week/
 
Description Public event as part of Book Week Scotland: 'Jewish Rebels from Glasgow and Beyond' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A public presentation bringing together scholars, lay historians, musicians, and the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre. The event was part of Book Week Scotland 2018 and the presentations covered diverse aspects of Jewish history from Scotland and beyond. The event was held at the Mitchell Library Glasgow and attended by over 60 people (full capacity). Much discussion and interest sparked from the Jewish and local community, as well as an opportunity for the Scottish Jewish Archvies Centre to disseminate their work.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.glasgowlife.org.uk/event/1/book-week-scotland-glasgows-jewish-rebels
 
Description Walking tour of Jewish Edinburgh 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The tour was co-curated with the Edinburgh Jewish Literary Society. The tour was launched in July 2017 and 5 guided tours were held in July, August and September 2017. In January 2018 a self-guided version of the tour was launched in co-operation with the Curious Edinburgh project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018
URL https://jewishstudies.div.ed.ac.uk/edinburgh-jewish-walks/