Glasgow Jewish Educational Forum
Report on Activities 2007-2008
Who We Are The Glasgow Jewish Educational Forum was founded in January 2007, with the purpose of encouraging a conversation within the Glasgow Jewish community. The founders sought to promote a vibrant, active community that is pluralistic in outlook and where a diversity of views is welcomed rather than feared. Many of us have children growing up in Glasgow and are committed to a future in Glasgow. We need a community where discussion and debate on a variety of topics is encouraged and accepted, and where proper communal dialogue and discussion can be embarked upon. As our community looks to the future, we in GJEF will continue to arrange lectures to stimulate open discussion. We believe that, just as is the case in other areas of public life, people in our community are entitled to be heard, listened to, and encouraged to give their opinion. We believe this is essential as our community looks forward. Alongside our public lectures, GJEF have also established a community blog that enables anyone in the community to share their views with others, thereby providing a forum for interesting discussion and debate. David Barnett, Nick Nadell, Michael Samuel, Jeremy Stein and Tony Tankel.
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Lecture Programme 2007-2008 2007 Lecture Series: Sunday 21st January 2007: "Calderwood Lodge: The Present and the Future" Dr. Jim Duffy, Acting Head Teacher, Calderwood Lodge Jewish Primary School. Sunday 18th February 2007: “What Is the British Government’s Policy towards Israel and the Peace Process?” Jim Murphy M.P. Sunday 25th March 2007 : The Community’s Future: “What do they really think about us” Professor Mona Siddiqui in conversation with Dr. Tony Klug. Monday 23rd April 2007: “How can the British Jewish Community best support Israel?” Jonathan Freedland, Guardian and J.C columnist, and one of Britain’s foremost journalists. Thursday 28th April 2007: “Caring For Minority Groups - The Jewish Ethical Obligation” Rabbi Professor Naftali Rothenberg, Orthodox Rabbi of Har Adar, a suburb of Jerusalem, and senior research fellow at Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. Sunday 16th September 2007: COMMUNITY BALLOON DEBATE: “Turn the clock forward 10 years, and please tell the community why you will still exist and why your services will still be required” Thursday 11th October 2007: “How to confront Racism in the Jewish Community” Dr. Edie Friedman, Executive Director of the Jewish Council for Racial Equality. Sunday 11th November 2007: “Is Israel the cause of UK anti-Semitism or the excuse?” Antony Lerman, Executive Director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research. Wednesday 28th November 2007: “Is Jewish Life flourishing or stagnating in the U.K today? – Different expressions of Jewish Identity” Clive Lawton, Executive Director of Limmud and Trustee of Tzedek; and Dr Brian Klug, Senior Research Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy at St. Benet’s Hall, and co-founder of Independent Jewish Voices.
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2008 Lecture Series: Wednesday 5th March 2008: “Why will an SNP run Scotland be good for the Scottish Jewish Community?” Fiona Hyslop, MSP, Scottish Government Cabinet Minister of Education. Sunday 6th April 2008: “Jewish Schools and Jewish Education in the 21st century” Alastair Falk, Director of Educational leadership at UJIA. Thursday 17th April 2008: “Why will an SNP run Scotland be good for the Scottish Jewish Community?” The Rt Hon Alex Salmond, MSP, First Minister of Scotland.
GJEF's series of lectures have examined some of the key issues facing Jews in the contemporary world. Our guest speakers have included some of the leading intellectual figures in Anglo-Jewry. Sunday 1st June 2008: “Does our Community need a Holocaust memorial?” Dr Stephen Smith, Director of the Aegis Trust and Director and Co-founder of the Beth Shalom Holocaust Centre. Sunday 26th October 2008: “Does the Jewish Community Get the Leaders it deserves? Representation and Responsibility in a Time of Crisis” Antony Lerman, Executive Director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research. Sunday 18th November 2008: “The Israel-Diaspora Relationship: Should we be in Love or Disillusioned?” Jonathan Boyd, Director of the JDC International Centre for Community Development. Sunday 14th December 2008: "Are we under threat and are you concerned about the community’s safety?" Dr Adam Sutcliffe, lecturer in Early Modern European History at Kings College London.
Calderwood Lodge: The Present and the Future The inaugural meeting of the Glasgow Jewish Educational Forum was held on Sunday 21st January 2007. The guest speaker was Dr Jim Duffy, Acting Head Teacher of Calderwood Lodge Jewish primary school. As the first non-Jewish Head Teacher of Calderwood, Dr Duffy spoke to the Glasgow Jewish community about his vision for the school. The meeting with Dr Duffy received widespread coverage in the press, with feature articles in the Jewish Telegraph and the Jewish Chronicle. Addressing a capacity audience of 200 people, he observed: “Calderwood is an excellent school. It is one of the top schools in Scotland and a Jewish one. Attainment is at an all-time high and our pupils go on to achieve great things. However, we need the support of the entire Jewish community in order for it to maintain its Jewish ethos"
Setting out his priorities for Calderwood, he said that in the future the school would have to "integrate the study of other world religions". He added: "The excellent nursery helps with the continuity and the school has small class sizes, a good number of staff and tremendous parental involvement." He also noted that Calderwood pupils had scored their highest results ever in national tests, with 90 per cent achievement in writing, 92 per cent in reading and just under 94 per cent in maths. These figures placed the school in the top 10 per cent of Scottish primary schools. This, he said, "bodes well for the future of the school".
Dr Duffy reflects on his experiences at Calderwood In the Spring of 2006, I was asked to leave my job as head of St Cadoc’s Roman Catholic school and take over as acting head teacher at Calderwood Lodge. This would be a temporary post until a new permanent head teacher could be found. There was considerable interest surrounding the appointment at the time. Calderwood Lodge is Scotland’s only Jewish state school and until then all previous head teachers had been Jewish. The media attention was such that my move from St Cadoc’s and first meeting with Rabbi Rubin in Calderwood was televised and the story was extensively covered by the National and Jewish press. From the start I had tremendous support from pupils, parents, staff, the Jewish community and East Renfrewshire Council and we immediately embarked on an ambitious plan to improve the school and restore parental confidence. We were successful on both counts, and I was therefore delighted when I was asked to be the first speaker by the organisers of the Glasgow Jewish Educational Forum. In May 2007, Christine Haughney was appointed as permanent head teacher and under her leadership the school has gone from strength to strength. Calderwood is a fantastic school with a great future. I look back on my time there with fondness. Being acting head of a Jewish school was a great experience for me and it was my privilege to be associated with a faith school with such a unique history and ethos. GJEF The Community’s Future 5
The First Minister Addresses the Jewish Community On Wednesday 17th April 2008, the First Minister, the Rt Hon Alex Salmond MSP, addressed the Glasgow Jewish community at an public lecture organised by the Glasgow Jewish Educational Forum. This was the first time since the establishment of the Scottish Parliament that the First Minister had addressed the Jewish Community in his own right, and we were honoured that he agreed to speak at an event held under the auspices of GJEF. The subject under discussion was: “Why will an SNP-run Scotland be good for the Scottish Jewish Community?” The lecture was open to all members of the community, and Mr Salmond addressed a capacity audience of 300 people at Mearns Castle School Theatre.
Excerpts from Tony Tankel's Introduction:
"GJEF were very keen that Mr Salmond spoke directly to the Glasgow Jewish Community. Given the political changes that have taken place in Scotland since May 2007, we believed that it was important that Mr Salmond’s lecture was the only item on the agenda; and that it be open to our entire community. As you can see from the very healthy audience, this meeting has really caught the community’s imagination. When Mr Salmond was elected as Scotland's First Minister there began a process that has received widespread publicity: Mr Salmond's desire to have a national conversation with the Scottish People about Scotland’s constitutional future. The First Minister, in launching the public debate at Napier University, said: “Today is the moment when I ask every Scot to pause and reflect not on the kind of country we are, but on the kind of county we could be, we should be". Perhaps we should take notice of Mr Salmond's words and reflect, not on the kind of community we are, but on the kind of community we could be, we should be".
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The Vote of Thanks: "Ladies and Gentlemen, tonight has been very special. Our community has had an unprecedented opportunity to hear directly from Scotland’s First Minister, and an unprecedented opportunity to ask him questions about what concerns you. We are grateful, First Minister, for all the time you have made available this evening. It is greatly appreciated. This audience, representing so many parts of our community, will for certain reflect a variety of political viewpoints, and this is quite understandable. What I am sure we have in common is a much greater appreciation of the qualities of the man who has addressed us this evening. Politicians are often accused of being remote, unavailable and uninterested. I am sure no one will disagree that our guest this evening cannot be accused of any of these.
The Glasgow Jewish Educational Forum, on behalf of the Glasgow Jewish Community, wanted to mark this evening by presenting the First Minister with something that would reflect what it means to be part of a Jewish Community, and what it means to be part of the Jewish People. One of our earlier speakers was the excellent journalist and broadcaster Jonathan Freedland. Jonathan wrote a very special book entitled “Jacob’s Gift”, which explored issues of Jewish identity and belonging to the Jewish people by asking questions such as “what does it mean to belong?” and “why do people cling so tightly to their nation or religion or culture?” Some of you will recognise that we also gave this book to Fiona Hyslop, Scottish Government Minster for Education and Learning, but we would like Mr Salmond to have his own copy because we feel that it explores some very pertinent issues about what it means to be Jewish in the world today". GJEF The Community’s Future 7
Reflections on Jewish-Muslim Dialogue
As Others See Us The relationship between Judaism and Islam was explored at a unique symposium which was held on Sunday 25th March, 2007. The event, which took the form of a dialogue between the Islamic scholar Mona Siddiqui and the Middle East analyst Tony Klug, examined how Jews are perceived by the Muslim community. Speaking at the third lecture sponsored by the Glasgow Jewish Educational Forum, Professor Mona Siddiqui, Director of the Centre for the Study of Islam at Glasgow University, explored the history of relations between the two faiths, and their different approaches to the shared traditions of what she referred to as “Scripture, Story and Salvation”. Dr Siddiqui noted that while there was an ambivalence towards the Jewish people in the Koran, there was, however, “no systematic theology of hatred towards Jews and Judaism”. The Muslim community’s perception of Jews was, she emphasised, related directly to the Arab-Israeli conflict and its understanding of Western foreign policy in the Middle East. She added that when the conflict is refracted through that prism, “the complexity is lost”. Her interlocutor, Dr Tony Klug, Senior Policy Consultant at the Middle East Policy Initiative Forum, gave a brief history of Jewish-Arab dialogue from 1984 to the present day. Citing the work of the scholar Bernard Lewis, he rejected the view that Islamic hostility towards Israel and the Jewish people was based on an inherent hatred of Jews; rather, he argued that it was a consequence of “an inevitable response to occupation”, and “the offspring of the tragic conflict in the Middle East”.
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While he acknowledged the rise of anti-Semitic currents in the Arab and Muslim worlds, Dr Klug argued that a just resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict would counter the enmity which exists at present. He affirmed his continuing support for a two-state solution, a position which he first set out in a Fabian Society pamphlet, “A Tale of Two Peoples”, published in 1973. In relation to the Middle East conflict, Dr Siddiqui said that while she agreed with Dr Klug’s analysis, there was a moral imperative on the part of Europe and America to find a solution. As regards the UK, she said that the Muslim community was, in many respects, attempting to define its place in the postcolonial world. While the community was not monolithic, she noted that, in recent years, it had become more insular and there had been a resurgence of conservative tendencies in which identity was expressed through religious belief. Dr Klug expressed the hope that, in the long run, rapprochement between the two peoples would be established on the basis of an understanding of the history of the other.
The Jewish Community and Holocaust Commemoration
In June 2008, GJEF was honoured to sponsor a lecture by Dr Stephen Smith, chair of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust. For those who were present on the night, it was a privilege to hear the considered view of one of the leading authorities on the subject of Holocaust commemoration. Dr Smith addressed the question of the proposed Holocaust memorial in Scotland, an issue which, hitherto, had not been subject to any form of public discussion or consultation. His lecture examined some of the most difficult and complex questions associated with the proposed memorial; namely, whether East Renfrewshire is the most appropriate location for the memorial, and the difficult question of “ownership”: "Without taking anything away from the community of East Renfrewshire, would East Renfrewshire be the most obvious place to make a clear and unequivocal statement to the whole of Scotland? As founder of the Holocaust Centre in the middle of a field in rural Nottinghamshire, I have no grounds to question the generous hosting of a memorial in East Renfrewshire. However, the Holocaust Centre in Nottinghamshire is a private initiative developed at the time out of pure necessity. We used the very few resources to establish something in the UK fifteen years ago. That is a very different proposition to a memorial funded by a national government. If the community is the nation, then it has to reach the nation. If that means it has to be in central Glasgow or in Edinburgh that needs to be thought about now. I understand there is the offer of land, which is a wonderful gesture, because land is expensive. But it will be costly to get the location wrong. East Renfrewshire might indeed be the right place, but you only know that once feasibility is tested against other possible locations. I wonder
whether that exercise has been done. If the community to which we refer is the Jewish Community, then East Renfrewshire will be just fine. If it is a wider community, then this location needs very careful thought. . . . This raises the thorny problem of ownership. Who ‘owns’ the Holocaust memorial? Moreover, who owns the Holocaust? Let me rephrase that. Who has the right to represent the Holocaust, its causes, its history and its consequences, to the rest of society? We all know that the vast majority of victims of National Socialisms genocidal regime were Jews. From the outset, they were ideological targets of a pathological state, hell bent on their destruction. There is good reason to think about how to involve the Jewish community in the creation of Holocaust memorials and centres, because Jews do know about the Holocaust from the very core of their being. That partly explains why when a Holocaust memorial is considered, East Renfrewshire is an obvious choice for many. However, south of the border, it would be unthinkable to put a Holocaust centre for the general public in At Hendon Central or on Hampstead High Street. It places the ownership and the onus on the Jewish community and this is not a Jewish Community problem. Whatever it was that created the mass murder of the Jews of Europe it was not the making of the Jews. They suffered the tragedy, the problem lay elsewhere."
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The Jewish Future in Scotland Engaging with the Scottish Government On Monday 27th October 2008, The Glasgow Jewish Educational Forum facilitated a meeting between officials from the Scottish Government and Antony Lerman, former Executive Director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR). JPR aims to advance the fortunes of Jewish communities across Europe by developing ideas for an inclusive Europe where difference is cherished and common values prevail. The discussions covered a wide variety of subjects including antisemitism, Holocaust education, the impact of global events on the Scottish Jewish community and the interaction between European Governments and Jewish communities throughout Europe. Since the First Minister addressed a public meeting of the Jewish community in April 2008, the Scottish Government have been aware of GJEF's innovative educational programme. Over the past two years, GJEF have brought some of Britain’s leading Jewish academics and thinkers to Scotland in order to stimulate discussion and debate within the Glasgow Jewish community. It was agreed that GJEF will, when appropriate, help to facilitate further meetings and consultations with the Scottish Government as part of a wide-ranging advisory process.
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Briefing ACPOS On Wednesday 21st January 2009, Antony Lerman, former Executive Director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, addressed the ACPOS Religion and Faith Reference Group on the subject of antisemitism. This event was facilitated by GJEF at the request of ACPOS (Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland), and officials in the Scottish Government. Mr Lerman’s lecture was very well received, and afterwards there was a lengthy discussion about this important and complex issue.
Tony Lerman: The Question of antisemitism "The upsurge of antisemitic incidents since the beginning of the Israeli bombing and invasion of Gaza shows that antisemitism is alive and well. But the fact that these incidents are directly linked to the Israel-Palestine conflict shows also that antisemitism today is a complex phenomenon. Combating antisemitism today requires sensitivity to, and an understanding of, the complexities of the problem. Monitoring antisemitism is extremely important, as the All Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism, which produced a report and recommendations in 2006, stressed. However, recording antisemitic incidents, which police forces across the country are all being urged to do, is only one part of monitoring antisemitism. One of the problems facing both law enforcement agencies and researchers is that, while antisemitism is a form of racism, it’s different in some important respects. For example, anti-black racism manifests itself clearly in discrimination. Jews in the UK suffer no discrimination to speak of. Dealing with antisemitism requires a proportionate response. Policy-making at whatever level will not succeed if the threat is either exaggerated or underestimated. Sadly, we will never rid the world of racism and antisemitism completely, but we can do a very great deal to create the conditions which reduce hatreds to a level where they do as little harm as possible".
Contact GJEF For further information about the work of GJEF, please contact: Tony Tankel 33a Gordon Street Glasgow G1 3PF Telephone: 0141 226 2200 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://gjef.wordpress.com Credits: Photographs: Leonard Esakowitz and Debbie Barnett With thanks to Dr Jim Duffy and Derek Livingston All content ÂŠ GJEF 2009