Parliament menorah is fitting tribute to Joseph

THE Scottish Parliament building was ringing to the sounds of Chanucah songs on Tuesday evening.

The occasion was the presentation of a menorah, in memory of Dr Joseph Rifkind, by the Rifkind family on behalf of the Edinburgh community.

The event was attended 150 people, including Dr Rifkind's children, Charles, Marion and Gabrielle, members of the Rifkind family and Edinburgh community, two bus parties from Glasgow and several MSPs.

The menorah was designed by Julian Draper and made by Nicholas Parry, using oak and sycamore to reflect the woods used in the construction of the Parliament building.

The shamash was lit by Dr Rifkind's nephew, Morris Kaplan, who was the main organiser of the event, including providing a kosher Chanucah buffet and buses for members of the Glasgow community.

The menorah lighting and blessings were performed by Dr Rifkind's children.

After the lighting, the Glasgow Jewish Singers, conducted by Eddie Binnie and accompanied by Michael Barnett, performed Chanucah songs before delighting the audience with a concert of Hebrew and Scottish numbers.

Accepting the gift, presiding officer Tricia Marwick MSP said: "It (the menorah) suits this building so well and will become part of it. This is the first time we have had a Chanucah event here and I hope it becomes a regular part of our calendar.

"We are all very proud of the Jewish history in Scotland and its contribution to so many areas such as the arts, business, culture, medicine and politics. Our links stretch back to the beginning of our Parliament."

Marion Rifkind said: "My father, the youngest of 10 children, was born in Edinburgh in 1919. He began his medical studies at Edinburgh University in 1937. After qualifying, he served as a doctor in India from 1944 to 1947.

"On his return to the UK, he moved to Wolverhampton and worker there as a GP for 44 years.

"In 1949, he married Renee Glass. He always had a special place in his heart for Edinburgh and Scotland. He was a man who showed great compassion to all his patients and those who knew him.

"He was a regular shulgoer and passed down his Jewish traditions to his family, generation by generation. He died in St John's Wood, London, aged 93, in January, 2013."

Gabrielle Rifkind added: "We feel incredibly proud to be part of this amazing evening. Our father would have looked upon it with astonishment.

"He was a Jew, a Scot, a doctor, a father and husband, a family man and a committee man. He would have loved to have been recognised in this way."

Scotland's senior minister Rabbi Moshe Rubin explained the significance of the festival through the words of Emeritus Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks.

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