Jews will always be welcome at Parliament

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A WIDE spectrum of people celebrated Chanucah in the Scottish Parliament last week.

A menorah lighting and Chanucah celebration, marking 200 years since the establishment of the first Jewish community in Scotland, was held in the Holyrood Garden Lobby.

The event was organised by Edinburgh Deputy Lord Lieutenant Edward Green and hosted by the Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh.

It was sponsored by Marion, Gabrielle and Charles Rifkind, the children of the late Edinburgh-born GP Joseph Rifkind.

Marion and her son Edward Krasnov came from Texas for the event.

The Rifkind family donated the menorah to the Parliament three years ago. It was lit by Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, while the Calderwood Lodge choir, conducted by deputy headteacher Andrew Robson and accompanied by Boris Sores, performed Chanucah songs.

Mr Macintosh expressed his delight at being present at the celebration of such an important event in the history of Scotland — 200 years after 20 families established the first Scottish Jewish community in Edinburgh.

“The irrational spectre of antisemitism has raised its ugly head,” he said. “Despite the contributions of Jewish people to Scottish culture, such as the founding of the Edinburgh Festival by Rudolph Bing, a number of attempted artistic boycotts have occurred at that very same festival.

“I know that some in the Jewish community are uncomfortable with the language used in the Scottish Parliament. Be assured that you are always welcome here and that you will always be listened to here, where the Jewish community has helped shape our legislation.”

The Chief Rabbi spoke about the themes of Chanucah, of how the candles are a symbol of the building upon the past to strive to do more and more. That was a reflection on what has happened over the past 200 years.

Mr Green spoke of the example set by Calderwood being housed in a joint faith campus with a Catholic school.

He also pointed out that Calderwood welcomed children of all faiths and none and that it was a special pleasure to see Muslim members of the choir singing Chanucah songs in the Parliament.

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