History of the Jews in Scotland
Learn more about History of the Jews in Scotland
The earliest date at which Jews arrived in Scotland is not known. It is possible that some arrived, or at least visited, as a result of the Roman Empire's conquest of southern Great Britain, but there is no direct evidence for this. What the Romans referred to as "Caledonia" was never integrated into the Empire, although there was a short-lived occupation of southern Scotland, but Roman influence and trade continued after the withdrawal of their troops. Most histories of Jews in Scotland deal with the subject matter from a British perspective, and the Scottish aspect tends to be marginalised.
 Middle Ages to Union with England
While England during the Middle Ages had state persecution of the Jews, culminating in the expulsion of 1290 (it has been suggested that Jews may have arrived in Scotland after this date), there was never a corresponding expulsion from Scotland. Indeed the eminent Jewish-Scottish scholar David Daiches states in his autobiographical Two Worlds: An Edinburgh Jewish Childhood that there are grounds for saying that Scotland is the only European country which has no history of state persecution of Jews. Evidence of Jews in medieval Scotland is fairly scanty, but in 1190, the Bishop of Glasgow forbade churchmen to "ledge their benefices for money borrowed from Jews".  This was around the time of the Anti-Jewish riots in England so it is possible Jewish refugees lived in Scotland for a brief time, or it may refer to English Jews' interests in Scotland. Aberdeen and Dundee had close links to Baltic ports such as in Poland and Lithuania known as Scottish merchant trade routes. It is possible that Jewish people may have came to Scotland to trade with their Scottish counterparts.
Like many Christian nations, medieval Scots believed themselves to have a Biblical connection. The Declaration of Arbroath (6 April, 1320), which was sent as an appeal to Pope John XXII, confirmed Scotland's status as an independent, sovereign state and asserted its right to use military action when considered unjustly attacked. It was sealed by fifty-one magnates and nobles. It is still periodically referenced by British Israelitists. The text asserts that in the eyes of God:
- cum non sit Pondus nec distinccio Judei et Greci, Scoti aut Anglici
- ("there is neither bias nor difference between Jew or Greek, Scot or English")
The majority of Jewish immigration appears to have occurred post-industrialisation, and post-1707, meaning that Jews in Scotland were subject to various anti-Jewish British laws. Oliver Cromwell readmitted Jews to England, Cornwall and Wales in 1656, and would have had some influence over the Scottish situation. Scotland was under the jurisdiction of the Jew Bill, enacted in 1753, but repealed the next year.
The first graduate from the University of Glasgow who was openly-known to be Jewish was Levi Myers, in 1787. Unlike their English contemporaries, Scottish students were not required to take a religious oath.
In 1795, we learn of Herman Lyon, who bought a burial plot in Edinburgh. He was of German nationality originally, and was a dentist and chiropodist. He had moved to Scotland in 1788. There is no trace of the burial plot on Calton Hill today, but it is marked on the Ordnance Survey map of 1852 as "Jew's Burial vault".
The first Jewish congregation in Edinburgh was founded in 1816, and in Glasgow in 1823 . That of Aberdeen was founded in 1893. The Jewish cemetery in Dundee indicates that there has been a Jewish congregation in that city since the 19th Century.
By 1878, Jews became attached to the Scottish aristocracy when Hannah Primrose, Countess of Rosebery, one of the Rothschilds, born in England, married Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery. She died at Dalmeny. Her son, Harry, would become Secretary of State for Scotland in 1945 for a year.
In order to avoid persecution in the Russian Empire, Jews settled in the larger cities of the UK, including Scotland, most notably in Glasgow (especially the Gorbals), although there were smaller populations in Edinburgh and to a lesser extent, Dundee, Aberdeen and Greenock. The Russian Jews tended to come from the west of the empire, especially the Baltic countries, and in particular Lithuania. It has been suggested that the Gorbals had a Jewish population of between 10,000 to 20,000, many decades ago although this has not been verified.
 20th Century
Organised British anti-Semitism arose in the form of British Union of Fascists, which met with limited success in Scotland. Oswald Mosley did visit Scotland, but his group was physically attacked on Princes Street in Edinburgh by "Protestant Action", which believed his group to be an Italian (i.e. Roman Catholic) intrusion. In fact, it has been claimed that bigotry was diverted away from Jews by anti-Catholicism, particularly in Glasgow, where the main racist/religious prejudice was against Irish people . The Englishness of many "British" hard-right movements also most-likely alienated many Scots who could have been potential converts. Perhaps the most prominent and vocal supporter of anti-Semitism was the eccentric aristocrat Archibald Maule Ramsay, but it is difficult to link him with any large Scottish tendency. In the Gorbals at least, both Louise Sless and Woolf Silver, recall no anti-Semitic sentiment. .
According to the 2001 census, approximately 6,400 Jews live in Scotland, most of whom are in Edinburgh (about 1,000), Glasgow (about 7,000), and to a lesser extent Dundee. Scotland's Jewish population continues to be predominantly urban. The SSPCA came into conflict with the Aberdeen congregation over slaughtering methods at the turn of the 20th century. As with Christianity, the practising Jewish population continues to fall, as many younger Jews either become secular, or intermarry with other faiths. Scottish Jews have also emigrated in large numbers to the USA, England and the Commonwealth for economic reasons, as other Scots have done. Only a handful have moved to Israel. Scotland currently has a strong Palestinian Solidarity campaign, led by the likes of George Galloway, which sometimes is the cause of some friction with Scottish Jews, particularly over fundraising by the Jewish National Fund in the country.
In August, 2006, protests against the invasion of Lebanon by Israel led to their amateur cricket team having to play behind barbed wire at RAF Lossiemouth. However some Scottish Jews actually took part in this protest to show their disagreement with Israel's actions.
 List of Scottish Jews
Scottish people of some Jewish background:
- Ronni Ancona (Sephardi), comedienne (Jewish Chronicle, 28/09/2005, Diary p.66, "Could there a hint of racial stereotyping in the Almeida’s decision to cast two Jewish actors — Ronni Ancona and Henry Goodman — in its upcoming production of The Hypochondriac?")
- Charlotte Auerbach, geneticist (JYB 1977 p207)
- Arnold Brown (comedian)
- Sir Matt Busby, Football Manager (Roman Catholic but of Eastern European Jewish descent)
- Hazel Cosgrove, Lady Cosgrove, , first female Court of Session judge
- Ivor Cutler, musician, teacher and comedian
- David Daiches, writer and literary critic
- Sir Monty Finniston, industrialist
- Hannah Frank, sculptor (studied under Benno Schotz below)
- Myer Galpern, Lord Provost of Glasgow; MP
- Cyril Harris, Chief Rabbi of South Africa
- Hannah Primrose, Countess of Rosebery, Rothschild, and philanthropist
- Jeremy Isaacs,broadcaster
- Knopfler Brothers (Dire Straits), rock musicians
- Peter Kravitz, editor of the compilation, Contemporary Scottish Fiction, and literary critic
- Kevin MacDonald, director of One Day in September
- Andrea McLean, GMTV Presenter (ethnically Russian-Jewish family who converted to Christianity)
- Stefan Reif
- Malcolm Rifkind, politician
- Jerry Sadowitz, controversial comedian and conjurer
- George Sassoon, buried on Mull
- Benno Schotz, sculptor
- Manny Shinwell, politician
- Muriel Spark, novelist (Jewish father; mother Anglican but Muriel Spark's son says that she had Jewish parents; converted to Catholicism later in life)
- Eric Woolfson
 People of Scottish-Jewish extraction
- Alicia Silverstone, American actress, Scottish born Jewish parents (mother a convert).
JYB = Jewish Year Book
 Further reading
- Collins, Dr KE - Scotland's Jews - A Guide to the History and Community of the Jews in Scotland (1999)
- Conn, A (editor) - Serving Their Country- Wartime Memories of Scottish Jews (2002)
- Kaplan, H L - Jewish Cemeteries in Scotland in Avotaynu, Vol.VII No 4, Winter 1991
- Levy, A - The Origins of Scottish Jewry
- Phillips, Abel - A History of the Origins of the First Jewish Community in Scotland: Edinburgh, 1816 (1979)
 Scottish Jewish autobiography
- Daiches, David - Two Worlds - An Edinburgh Jewish Childhood
- Shinwell, Manny - Conflict Without Malice (1955)
 See also
- History of the Jews in England
- History of the Jews in Ireland
- List of British Jews
- Andrew B. Davidson
 External links
- The Jewish History Resource Center Project of the Dinur Center for Research in Jewish History, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
- The Virtual Jewish History Tour - Scotland
- Jewish Encyclopedia on Scotland
- Edinburgh Hebrew Congregation
- Scottish Jewish Archives Centre