Prayers for first Jews of Glasgow

SOME of Glasgow's earliest Jewish settlers were remembered in a moving ceremony on Sunday.

The ceremony, arranged to coincide with Mitzvah Day, was to reconsecrate the Jewish enclosure at the Glasgow Necropolis Cemetery.

It also included the unveiling of a memorial to the 57 people, 31 of them stillborn, children and infants, buried there from 1832 to 1855.

The restoration of the section was carried out by the Sandymount Regeneration Project and the Glasgow Hebrew Burial Society in conjunction with Glasgow City Council Land and Environment Services.

Prayers were led by Rabbi Moshe Rubin, supported by the Glasgow Jewish Singers, conducted by Eddie Binnie.

Kaddish was recited by Queen's Park Charitable Trust trustee Larry Sellyn and the stone was unveiled by Sandymount trustees chairman Stanley Coorsh and Glasgow Hebrew Burial Society chairman Professor Alan Shenkin.

The service, which was followed by a reception, continued at the St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art.

"I feel proud to have been part of this project," Rabbi Rubin said. "I feel I have met some very special people.

"A burial memorial stone is not just for the person who has died, but for the communities and generations that follow.

"These 57 burial sites give us a glimpse of the hardships faced by those who came before us - especially through the high number of children buried there.

"And almost 200 years later, a completely new world continues in the traditions that they followed. This enclosure should be an example for all communities.

"Last week, 1,000 refugees arrived in the UK. Let the story of those buried in this and other cemeteries give hope to the new arrivals. We welcome them with the blessing of hope and courage."

Mr Coorsh said: "We are most grateful that (Environmental Services department senior information officer) Dennis McCue brought the Jewish enclosure to our attention and are equally grateful for the support given by the City Council to restore it to a respectable condition.

"As the Glasgow Necropolis is one of the many cemeteries managed by the City Council, seven of which have a Jewish section, several of these other Jewish sections require attention to transform them from the neglected condition in which they are currently in."

He praised Alan Shenkin, David Links and Mike Links for identifying the names of those buried in the Jewish enclosure.

"Not all the headstones were accessible and the names on the headstones which were accessible were not always legible, plus not all of those buried there were marked by headstones, especially the children," Mr Coorsh added.

Glasgow Jewish Representative Council president Paul Morron recited Psalm 15 and the Glasgow Jewish Singers concluded the service with Adon Olam.

Scottish Jewish Archives Centre director Harvey Kaplan told the Jewish Telegraph: "It's fitting that so many tombstones are now visible - some in as good a condition as when they were first erected.

"This will now be a 'must see' location for Jewish tourists to Glasgow."

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