The Scottish Jewish Heritage Centre is now open!

We are delighted that the Scottish Jewish Heritage Centre has now opened in Garnethill Synagogue – it is the result of 7 years of hard work in the planning, development and delivery. Visitors can view the Category A listed building, find out about the unique archives’ collections, explore aspects of Scottish Jewish history and culture, discover the history and the experiences of Jewish people in Scotland over 200 years and learn how the development of Scotland has been impacted by Jewish immigration.

The Centre has been a partnership project between the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre (SJAC) and Garnethill Synagogue Preservation Trust (GSPT) alongside Garnethill Hebrew Congregation – all based in Garnethill Synagogue.

Nearly £530,000 in capital funds has been invested, resulting in a modern and welcoming centre with new interpretative displays, a study room housing a specialist reference library, digital research resources and a school visit facility.

Major building restoration and renovation work in the lower level of the synagogue has improved public access to underused spaces. New displays now reveal the history of Glasgow’s Jewish community, and explore the period from 1933 to the 1950s when Scotland responded to events in Nazi Germany and took in a number of refugees.

Visiting school students  will be able to work with interactive learning kits, based on Holocaust-era refugee collections held in our Archives. These resources follow the experiences of refugees [Dorrith Sim (née Oppenheim), Ernst Marchand and Hilda Goldwag] who fled from Nazi Germany and occupied Europe, and found a safe haven here in Scotland before the outbreak of the Second World War. Students will be able to reflect on wider issues of citizenship, democracy, persecution and belonging, through the refugees’ experiences.

In addition to increasing visibility of the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre’s collections, the Centre will expand public access to the historic Category A listed Garnethill Synagogue through regular tours. Visitors will be able to appreciate its beautiful architecture and learn about its history.

The new Scottish Jewish Heritage Centre website has also been launched, featuring a short film showcasing the Centre and including details on how to book a guided tour of the building or organise a school visit.  A weekend activities programme will offer a wide range of public events. All access is designed under Covid-19 safe visiting protocols. The new Centre can be used for training, educational courses, seminars and workshops.

The capital works have been funded by generous grants 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 Community Security Trust and the Architectural Heritage Fund – William Grant Foundation.

We hope that you’ll look at the new website and take the opportunity to come along and see for yourself the transformation that has taken place.