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Language: English / Gàidhlig


Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Meeting of the Parliament 05 September 2017

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Business Motions, Topical Question Time, Programme for Government 2017-18, Programme for Government 2017-18, Decision Time, Boys Brigade Juniors 100th Anniversary


Time for Reflection

The first item of business this afternoon is time for reflection. Our time for reflection leader is Rabbi Mark Solomon, Sukkat Shalom Edinburgh Liberal Jewish Community.

Last week, I had the privilege of being at the Usher hall when the First Minister unveiled a plaque that honoured the Jewish contribution to the Edinburgh International Festival, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. Sir Rudolph Bing, who founded the festival in 1947, was an Austrian Jewish refugee from Nazism. I was especially moved to learn that the great conductor Bruno Walter was reunited during that inaugural festival with his former orchestra, the Vienna Philharmonic, which he had not conducted since fleeing Nazi persecution. The festival, in the wake of the second world war, was to

“provide a platform for the flowering of the human spirit.”

Like so many people then and—sadly—today, those founders knew how humans could be crushed by bigotry and oppression, but they also had faith that the human spirit could revive and flourish in an atmosphere of freedom and enlightenment, such as that which Scotland had, and still has, to offer.

The plaque also celebrates 200 years of Jewish life in Edinburgh since the first congregation was established in 1817. Earlier that afternoon, I joined an Edinburgh Jewish history walk and visited the site of that long-vanished synagogue as well as the locations of the last kosher butcher and baker in the city. The Jewish community in Scotland may have dwindled in numbers, but it continues to be a vibrant part of the mosaic of faiths and communities that flourish here.

The event last week did not just look backward; it looked forward as well. With the First Minister, we saw a presentation of the proposed new Scottish Jewish cultural centre that would bring under one roof both the venerable Edinburgh Hebrew Congregation and my, much newer, Edinburgh Liberal Jewish Community, and many other cultural and social activities.

Two weeks tomorrow, we Jews will celebrate our Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah, which also looks both back and forward, not just back to the old year with all its deep problems and forward to a new year that we pray will bring better things, but much further back to the story of our shared human origins and forward to a time of universal fellowship and peace.

I am deeply honoured to offer this short reflection as you begin a new parliamentary term. You are used to diverse views coexisting under one roof and all striving to achieve a better future for the people of Scotland. As members seek the flowering of the human spirit in Scotland through debate and dialogue, I wish you the Hebrew greeting of “shanah tovah”—a happy new parliamentary year.