Today, I have been researching the history of Jewish immigration to Scotland in readiness for a private tour comprising a family group of the Jewish faith. The first Jews came from Germany and Holland about 200 years ago but from the 1860s there was a big increase from Russia and Poland as  distressed peoples emigrated to America with a  significant number staying in Scotland due to non-eligibility for USA entry criteria.

Stained Glass at Giffnock Synagogue

The main centres of Jewish communities are Edinburgh and Glasgow with smaller communities in Greenock, Aberdeen, Dundee, Ayr, Falkirk, Inverness and Dunfermline.

Glasgow is home to the largest population many of whose ancestors started in the socially deprived Gorbals area . Early economic activity was focused on production and merchandising of goods, in particular shopkeeping, tailoring, shoe and slipper making, furniture and picture framing.

Currently, there exists some 10 synagogues in Scotland of which Garnethill in Glasgow is perhaps the most prominent.

Current Jewish population in Scotland is believed to be around 6000-7000, less than 1pct of the Scottish population.

It is, perhaps, worthy of note that historically the Scots and the Jews share common characteristics, viz:

  • Emphasis on education.
  • Teaching of the Hebrew Bible
  • Distinctiveness

Giffnock Synagogue

Art Work at Giffnock Synagogue.

Art Work at Giffnock Synagogue

The following two images show two of the ‘Queens Park’ windows at giffnock Synagogue. These are the work of John K Clark who was commissioned to create a series of 22 stained glass windows that would depict all the festivals of the Jewish year.

Stained Glass at Giffnock Synagogue