The Jewish Chronicle
ABERDEEN SAYS THANK YOU
AN OPEN day on Sunday gave Aberdeen Synagogue the opportunity to thank some of the many non-Jews who offered financial and practical support after its premises were flooded last summer.
More than 60 people attended the event at the restored Dee Street premises, among them the city’s Lord Provost, Barney Crockett, and MSP Kevin Stewart, Scotland’s Minister for Local Government and Housing. There was also a group from a church which had donated a dozen new chairs.
Visitors sampled kosher cuisine, guests from Glasgow having brought provisions from Mark’s Deli. They were also shown religious items and new covers for the Sifrei Torah and bimah, embroidered with names of people who had supported the congregation — the UK’s most northerly — in its time of need.
After the flooding, caused by a faulty washing machine, the shul was left homeless and facing repairs not covered by insurance.
Leaders of the small community feared they would not be able to raise the £10,000 required.
In the event, £25,000 was contributed by local, national and international Jewish and non-Jewish donors.
“People were so generous that we wanted to thank them,” the shul’s Debby Taylor explained
“All our visitors had a lovely time. There were even non-Jews from Dundee who had heard about the shul and wanted to see it.
“We are tired but very relieved. It’s been a lot of hard work.”
The open day was the culmination of a weekend of celebration. The Rev Malcolm Weisman led Friday night and Shabbat morning services, the latter to rededicate the building.
“It was the first time the Sifrei Torah had been in the building since the flood,” Mrs Taylor reported.
Rev Weisman knows the congregation well from his days as small communities minister.
Rabbi Robert Ash also joined the community for Shabbat.
Mrs Taylor added that “having got through the flood, we now have the headache of maintaining a B-listed building in a conservation area.
“We are stony broke. We have no central heating so we freeze.”
The financial picture would be significantly improved by finding a longterm tenant for the basement flat in the building.
Although most of its Shabbat gatherings are Orthodox, occasional services are Progressive in nature, reflecting the diversity of the 40-member congregation.
We are tired but relieved. It’s been hard work’