Scots Jews: Their Past and Present, with Michael Mail
ENGLISH CORNER, CON LINDA JIMÉNEZ – This week’s trivia question: When and where was the first synagogue in Scotland founded?
Michael Mail is the Founder of the Foundation for Jewish Heritage. He has had a 30-year career in the charity sector with senior roles in several leading UK-based charities, and sits on the board of several organizations devoted to the preservation of religious culture and heritage.
He assists the European Association for the Promotion of Jewish Culture on its cultural routes programme under the Council of Europe, is a Trustee of the Garnethill Synagogue Preservation Trust, and sits on the Editorial Committee of Jewish Renaissance magazine. He is also on the Board of the International Council of Monuments and Sites, the International Scientific Committee on Places of Religion and Ritual and the Governance and Conference Committees of Brussels-based Future for Religious Heritage, and was also Vice-Chair of Jewish Heritage UK.
Michael is also an award-winning author with three published novels.
He wanted to create a project that would recognize and celebrate the story of the Scottish Jewish community, which led to him establishing Tartan Arts and the initiative to carry out a photographic study of contemporary Jewish life in Scotland. He came across documentary photographer Judah Passow’s work and immediately realized that Judah had the skill, sensitivity and artistry to take on this subject and create a truly memorable project.
Passow spent 2013 photographing Scotland’s Jewish community, travelling across the country and producing a portrait which captures the complexity and diversity of Scottish Jewish life at the beginning of the 21st century.
IN 2014 THE PHOTOGRAPHS WERE PUBLISHED IN A BOOK, ENTITLED SCOTS JEWS: IDENTITY, BELONGING AND THE FUTURE, AND AN EXHIBITION HAS BEEN TOURING THE WORLD SINCE THEN. IT IS NOW AT THE CENTRO SEFARAD-ISRAEL IN MADRID, WHERE IT CAN BE VIEWED UNTIL JUNE 30.
Michael Mail spoke with us about the history of the Jews in Scotland, and the exhibition.