The Archives Centre continues to grow its holdings of documents, photographs and memorabilia on the Holocaust era, documenting the experiences of those who came here on the Kindertransport, as refugees from Central Europe during the 1930s or as survivors after the war. There is a fascinating story to tell of how many hundreds made a new life in Scotland and of the contribution they made to Scottish society, as doctors, teachers, nurses, artists, business people and in other fields.

With the support of the Scottish Government, we have carried out a study into the feasibility of a Scottish Holocaust Era Study Centre, as an adjunct of the Archives Centre in Garnethill Synagogue. We want to improve access to these collections for researchers in schools and universities and elsewhere.

Please let us know if you have any material on this period, or if you wish to be kept informed as this project unfolds. Contact Deborah Haase at info@sjac.org.uk to be added to the mailing list for updates, or if you wish to get involved in this project.


December 2020

Creating a Scottish Jewish Heritage Centre incorporating a Scottish Holocaust-era Study Centre within Garnethill Synagogue

The year began very positively with architectural repair and renovations works starting on site in January in the capable hands of Elmwood (Glasgow) Ltd under the guidance of Scott Abercrombie and the team at John Gilbert Architects.

Of course, everything stopped in March when the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions came into force.  Covid-19 has since impacted every aspect of the project and inevitably led to delays.

Where we are now

Downstairs the architectural repair and refurbishment works are complete.  Russell Eggleton of Abound and Design is now completing the installation of new furniture, equipment, resources and the interpretative displays in the foyer and in the Succah.

New Entrance 29 Garnet Street

The Succah is now a bright, welcoming and warm space opening onto the renovated courtyard and linked internally to the Study Centre. The Succah display offers visitors an overview of the Holocaust-era from 1930 through to the end of the Second World War, drawing on the diverse collections of the SJAC.

The Succah

Scottish Holocaust-era Study Centre

The Scottish Holocaust-era Study Centre has been created in the former kitchen.

New research resources being installed include:

– The Jewish Echo weekly newspaper editions published in Glasgow from 1928 to 1950.

– A digital catalogue giving access to over 2,500 items from the SJAC Holocaust-era collections.

-SJAC’s specialist Holocaust reference library.

-Three hands-on learning kits based on SJAC Holocaust-era collections.

Pupils visiting will be able handle facsimiles and interrogate documents and  photographs to find out about:

  • Dorrith Sim (Oppenheim) who came from Kassel in Germany to Scotland aged 7. Dorrith escaped on a Kindertransport, reaching the UK in July 1939.
  • Irene Marchand and her 10-year-old son Ernst who came to Scotland from Gelsenkirchen in the Ruhr in May 1939. Irene became housekeeper for the Garnethill Refugee Hostel set up next to the synagogue in 1939.
  • Hilda Goldwag who came from Vienna in Austria to Scotland in April 1939 after graduating from art school. Hilda escaped thanks to Max and Hedi Born’s daughter who arranged for her to enter the UK on a domestic visa.

An attractive new display in the synagogue foyer introduces Glasgow’s Jewish roots and Glasgow’s Jewish community dating back to 1821 whose successors built Garnethill Synagogue. There is a timeline from 1821 to 2020. Panels highlight architectural features of this grade A listed building and feature some of the early congregants who contributed to the expanding 19th century city of Glasgow.  Panels also introduce the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre and the new Scottish Holocaust-era Study Centre.

Glasgow's Jewish Roots

Downstairs there is now a bag store, new kosher kitchen, SJHC office and refurbished multi-purpose function room ready for the first new temporary exhibition to be installed. The title of the exhibition is: A new and very handsome synagogue – Garnethill Synagogue 1879 – Scotland’s oldest synagogue and the people who built it.

New Kosher Kitchen

SJHC Office

Function Room

Next steps

Volunteer led public services. Volunteer recruitment for the three new public services was halted by Covid-19 restrictions. We aim to resume recruitment and training, as soon as regulations permit, for:

Weekday Guiding Service – 17 volunteers were attending training sessions and learning about the history of the building, the displays and how to manage groups.

Weekend Events and Activities Service -A small group of volunteers, working with the SJAC staff team, have created the first temporary exhibition for the Function Room. This group, meeting via Zoom, is devising an events and activities programme, taking into account adjustments needed to respond to the Covid-19 restrictions for 2021 events

School Visit Service – We anticipate Covid-19 restrictions will make it unlikely schools can visit in 2021. We want to look at how best to get information about the Centre to schools. We are taking advice from our Holocaust education specialist Dr Paula Cowan and from Douglas Roberts, Education Consultant (Scottish Council on Archives), to assist us with our planning for onsite visits and examine how best to communicate and support schools in this uncertain time.

Publicity /public relations- We will aim to recruit new volunteers to assist with publicity in advance of the launch.

Scottish Jewish Heritage Centre Manager – We are readvertising the post and aim to have an appointee in place as early in Spring 2021 as possible. First tasks include starting up a SJHC website and coordination for the public services and taking forward the day to day running of the project following the launch.

New operational management body – We will be setting up a SCIO to run the SJHC. The SCIO will have 9 trustees (3 each from the project partners – SJAC and GSPT- and 3 independents, one of whom will be the chair.)

Revenue fundraising – A small group of SJAC volunteers, led by SJAC’s Honorary Treasurer, continues raising funds for the SJHC to provide a secure funding base for the first five years of operation after the NLHF operating grant expires. To date they have secured pledges totalling £210,000. This will cover the first two years of operation entirely and significantly contribute to the following three years.

All this has been made possible by:

Capital grant funds from: The National Lottery Heritage Fund; The Association of Jewish Refugees; The Wolfson Family Charitable Trust;  The Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany, Edinburgh; The Architectural Heritage Fund – William Grant Foundation; The Community Security Trust.

Invaluable input from our grant giving bodies, our specialist advisors, a host of volunteers and people from a wide range of organisations who help in so many ways. Thank you!

A lot of hard work by the project staff, the Working Group members and the partner trustees of SJAC and GSPT.

We look forward to welcoming volunteers and visitors to the Centre in 2021. In the meantime, if you wish any further information or want to get involved or to donate to the revenue running costs please email: info@sjac.org.uk

1st May 2018

Garnethill Synagogue to house Scotland’s first Jewish Heritage Centre thanks to National Lottery funding

The Scottish Jewish Archives Centre (SJAC) and Garnethill Synagogue Preservation Trust (GSPT) have received a confirmed grant of £296,900 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund (formerly National Lottery Fund) for their Scottish Jewish Heritage Centre project based in Glasgow’s Garnethill Synagogue, it was announced today.

Confirmation of the grant, which was awarded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund (formerly National Lottery Fund), unlocks pledged grant support from The Association of Jewish Refugees, the Wolfson Family Charitable Trust and the Federal Republic of Germany and means the total capital works costs of £465,000 are now in place.

The Scottish Jewish Heritage Centre project will be housed in Scotland’s oldest synagogue (opened 1879) and will include:

Creating a Scottish Holocaust-era Study Centre to open up public access to the SJAC ‘s unique collections on this period, with resources for education, research, tourists and community groups.

Creating a public display on the history and experience of refugees and survivors from the Nazi regime who found sanctuary and a chance to build a new life here in Scotland. This display will highlight and illustrate how Scottish society, churches, trade unions and others rallied to support refugees and the contributions which many of the refugees went on to make in their adopted homeland to Scottish cultural, medical, educational and business life.

Opening up the historic Grade A Garnethill Synagogue to the public with a volunteer-led Weekday Guiding Service and with interpretation on the architecture and history of the building and some the early 19th century congregants who contributed to the development of the modern City of Glasgow.

Recruiting and training volunteers to establish a School Visit Service, a Weekend Events and Activities Programme and a marketing programme, all designed to attract new audiences to find out about the building, the Archives collections and aspects of Scottish Jewish history and culture.

Recruiting a Heritage Centre Manager to help take forward coordination and future management of the Centre.

Creating a local heritage Walking Trail to widen awareness of the Holocaust-era history of the Garnethill district of Glasgow.

Work on the new Centre will start in May 2018 with the launch and opening of the Centre scheduled for summer 2019.

The project will carry out essential remedial works and refurbishment to the lower floor of the historic Victorian synagogue to facilitate flexible public use of underused spaces in the building, while allowing the congregation to continue.

The project will create computer-based resources, including a digital catalogue of around 2000 key items from the Holocaust-era collections in the SJAC collections and digital access to the early editions of the weekly Glasgow-based Jewish Echo newspaper covering the period from 1928 to 1945.

The Study Centre will also make available SJAC’s specialist Holocaust-era reference library and new hands-on learning resources being designed to support school pupils studying the Holocaust and the refugee period. These learning resources will allow pupils to explore the experience of individual child and adult refugees from Nazi Germany and occupied Europe who found a safe haven here in Scotland before the outbreak of the Second World War.

The project includes a marketing plan and will create a new website to facilitate online public information for access and visits and contribute to the opportunities for tourism in Glasgow. A key element will be the recruitment and training of up to 30 new volunteers to assist with the delivery and development of new public services, offering an opportunity for learning new skills and sharing knowledge and experience. The new Centre will also be used for training and educational courses, seminars and workshops.

Garnethill Synagogue is ideally placed for the new Centre. The synagogue is of great architectural interest and the only purpose-built synagogue still in use in the city of Glasgow. For the past thirty years, the Synagogue has also been the home of the Archives Centre- from its inception in 1987.

Garnethill district was a focus of refugee activity, especially following the outbreak of the Second World War, when refugees in the protected area of Edinburgh were transferred to Glasgow. Garnethill Hebrew Congregation actively assisted young refugees, providing a hostel in the synagogue grounds for refugee boys. Nearby was a hostel for refugee girls and women and a centre for refugees to meet. A number of refugees studied or taught at Glasgow School of Art.

The Archive Centre’s collections span over 200 years of Jewish life in Scotland. The new national Holocaust-era Study Centre will give public access to the SJAC’s unique oral, documentary, photographic and artifact collections.

Dr Kenneth Collins, Chairman of the SJAC, said:

“We’re delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this grant. Our project will expand access to the SJAC collections and help ensure a secure future for this important and iconic Glasgow building. Together they will create an important new educational, research, community and tourist resource for Scotland.”

Harvey Kaplan, Director of the SJAC, added:

“It is wonderful that we will now be better able locally to meet demand for access to the Holocaust-era collections and bring these collections to a wider international audience.”

Bernard Goodman, Chairman of GSPT,said:

“GSPT was formed in 2012 to ensure the longevity and preservation of all that takes place within our beautiful Synagogue building. Therefore, it must be noted with pride that, as a major step forward towards our goal, we acknowledge, that as a result of our partnership with SJAC, the current project will continue the vibrancy within the Synagogue allowing the bringing to light of fascinating stories about those people in the past who were associated with Garnethill Synagogue, and who contributed so much towards the dynamic modern City of Glasgow.”

Lucy Casot, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said:

“The opportunities for learning from this nationally important archive are immense. We are delighted that thanks to National Lottery players, it will now be accessible to all. Untold stories of Scotland’s Jewish people and history will be shared and preserved for future generations.”

Michael Newman Chief Executive of The Association of Jewish Refugees:

“As the nation’s largest dedicated funder of programmes and projects which promote teaching and learning about the Holocaust (TLH) in the UK, the AJR is delighted to support this important initiative to bring a first-of-its-kind Holocaust learning centre to Scotland, and we wish it much success. On behalf of our members we are committed to preserving the memory of those who perished.”

Paul Ramsbottom Chief Executive of the Wolfson Family Charitable Trust:

“The Wolfson Family Charitable Trust is a charity that funds excellent projects, particularly within the Jewish community. This is an exciting, important project, among things bringing to life through the archive the story of the community in Scotland – a country that gave the Wolfson family refuge in the 1890s.”

J Peter Voss, German Consul General in Scotland said:

“During the handover at the Federal Foreign Office on 14 March, the new German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said so clearly and deeply personally motivated: “I went into politics because of Auschwitz”. Our contribution to the excellent and important project, the Scottish Jewish Heritage Centre incorporating Scottish Holocaust-era Study Centre, means nothing but to help keeping the memory alive. We must never forget.”

Deborah Haase MA (hons) AMA, Project Coordinator

“We are immensely grateful for all the help we have received from National Lottery Heritage Fund (formerly National Lottery Fund) as we have developed our project and to The Association of Jewish Refugees, the Wolfson Family Charitable Trust and the German Federal Government who are all contributing to the capital costs. We have a great team to deliver our project assisted by John Gilbert Architects and Abound Design and Interpretation and a host of volunteers and organisations who are supporting us in all kinds of ways. We have a dedicated volunteer team who have taken on the challenge of raising the £50,000 revenue funds that will be needed annually to maintain the Centre once it is up and running. The team already have pledges from the Pears Foundation, local individuals and trusts and we are confident support will be forthcoming as we realise the potential of our project.”

For further information, images and interview please contact: Deborah Haase, Project Coordinator
Tel: 07967153096 Email: info@sjac.org.uk


Using money raised through the National Lottery Heritage Fund (formerly National Lottery Fund) which aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. www.hlf.org.uk


A charity founded in 1987 that collects historical material relating to the experience of Jewish people in Scotland dating back over 200 years, which is documented, preserved and exhibited for the benefit of visitors of all ages and researchers around the world. Much of SJAC’s diverse collections come from current and former communities in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen, Greenock, Inverness, Falkirk, Ayr and Dunfermline.

Volunteers are at the heart of SJAC, managing, researching, cataloguing, guiding visitors, fundraising, assisting researchers, updating the website, marketing and organising and participating in events and activities. Volunteers and others worldwide are members of Friends of SJAC.

In 2008 SJAC opened A New Life in Scotland– a display charting over 200 years of Jewish experience in Scotland. The display was funded by grants from Heritage Lottery Fund, East Renfrewshire Council and others.

In 2015, SJAC embarked on a three-year Arts and Humanities Research Council research project, Jewish Lives, Scottish Spaces, led by the Lecturers in Jewish Studies at the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh to explore Jewish migration to Scotland, focusing on the nationally-significant records and resources in the Archives Centre. In another current partnership, SJAC‘s data and collections have been utilised by a project Two Hundred Years of Scottish Jewry – a Demographic and Genealogical Profiled by the International Institute of Jewish Genealogy in Jerusalem. This project has been studying the geographic origins of Scottish Jewry, its dispersal and settlement patterns throughout Scotland, and the changes in its demographic composition over almost two centuries.

In 2017, SJAC marked 30 years of collecting, preserving and sharing its unique collections.


The congregation’s roots go back to a handful of traders from England, Germany and the Low Countries who settled in Glasgow in the 1790s and found a place where they were free to follow their religion and contribute to society. As early as 1812, a member of the congregation had been made a Freeman of Glasgow.

The synagogue building opened on its hill top site in Garnethill in 1879, as the congregation moved here as part of the expansion of Victorian Glasgow.

It was the first purpose-built synagogue in Scotland. Today the synagogue is a Grade A listed building of architectural, historical, educational and tourist interest. It is also the oldest surviving synagogue building in Scotland and retains its original feature stained glass windows, furniture and fittings. It is rated in the top 10 historic synagogues in the UK -the only one in Scotland.

The building has benefited from a major Heritage Lottery funded refurbishment between 1995 and 1998.

As the synagogue is an active place of worship – albeit with an older and far smaller membership- the congregation recently established the Garnethill Synagogue Preservation Trust (GSPT) and transferred ownership of the building to the Trust, to manage the future care and preservation of the building.

Grantee: Scottish Jewish Archives Centre. Chair: Dr Kenneth Collins; Director: Harvey Kaplan; Project Coordinator Deborah Haase

Project partner: Garnethill Synagogue Preservation Trust. Chair: Bernard Goodman

Garnethill Hebrew Congregation. Chair Tony Silverdale

For further information, images and interviews, please contact: Deborah Haase, SJAC Hon Curator and Project Coordinator, SJAC: 129 Hill Street, Garnethill, Glasgow,G3 6UB
Tel: 0141 332 4911 Email: haasedeborah@gmail.com