You are here

Scots Jews at Spertus Institute

Scots Jews at Spertus Institute

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — May 30, 2014

For more information contact:

Brian Zimmerman
bzimmerman@spertus.edu | 312.322.1724
or
Betsy Gomberg
bgomberg@spertus.edu | 312.322.1756

 

SCOTS JEWS: IDENTITY, BELONGING AND THE FUTURE
Portraits by award-winning photographer Judah Passow capture contemporary Scottish Jewish life

Photos from the series will be on display at
Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership
June 8- October 5, 2014

(Chicago) In his latest venture, award-winning Israeli-born photographer Judah Passow spent a year with Scotland’s Jewish community, producing a series of portraits that capture Scottish Jewish life at the beginning of the 21st century. An exhibit of the series — titled Scots Jews: Identity, Belonging and the Future— premiered at the Scottish Parliament in February 2014.

Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership is proud be part of the exhibit’s North American tour. Twenty of the photographs will be on view on the seventh floor of Spertus Institute, 610 S. Michigan Avenue, from June 8 and running through October 5, 2014. They can be seen for free during public hours. An online gallery of the photos can be seen on the Spertus Institute website.

London-based Judah Passow’s work has appeared in publications across the globe, including the Guardian, the Observer, and the Independent in Britain; Time, Newsweek, and The New York Times in America; Der Spiegel and Die Zeit in Germany, and L'Express in France. A winner of four World Press Photo awards for his coverage of the conflict in the Middle East, his photographs have been shown in Amsterdam, Glasgow, London, Paris, New York, Tel Aviv, and Washington D.C.

There have been Jews in Scotland since at least the 17th century, coming initially in ones and twos to study at Scotland’s famed universities and then in increasing numbers through the 19th and into the 20th centuries as persecution in Eastern Europe made Jewish life increasingly precarious.

While maintaining its particular traditions, the Jewish community prided itself in the way it quickly became immersed in Scottish society. The religious, educational, and welfare institutions established were expressions of communal confidence — and confidence in Scotland, a land that uniquely for Europe had no history of state-sanctioned antisemitism. It remains a small community, at its height never more than 16,000. “This is a community that despite its small size has a rich quality of Jewish life,” said the artist in article from The Jewish Week.

The photographs in Scots Jews: Identity, Belonging and the Future deliver an up-close view of the daily life of Scotland’s Jews. It showcases members of the Scottish Jewish community who are scientists and doctors, judges and politicians, artists and writers, farmers and foresters — and even kilt makers and whisky distillers!

Judah Passow notes, “One of the more remarkable features [of the Scottish Jewish Community] is that it has become so tightly woven into the national fabric. I hope people looking at these photographs will see what I saw — a people deeply devoted to their heritage both as Jews and Scots.” Spertus Curator of Collections Ilana Segal agrees. She says, “Judah Passow was compelled to capture Jewish-Scottish life at this point in time because Scotland's declining Jewish population presumes an uncertain Jewish future. His photographs present a counterpoint, showcasing individuals celebrating their unique traditions and rich history."

Scots Jews: Identity, Belonging and the Future was created and produced by Michael Mail with funding from Creative Scotland and support from the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SOJEC). Later this year, a book of the photographs will be published by Bloomsbury.

Spertus Institute is open Sunday to Wednesday from 10 am to 5 pm, Thursday from 10 am to 6 pm, and Friday from 10 am to 3 pm. Spertus is closed on Saturday for the Jewish Sabbath and on Jewish and secular holidays.

Discount Parking is available with Spertus validation at the Essex Inn, 8th Street and Michigan Avenue.

# # #

Image shown above: Burns Night at the L’Chaim kosher restaurant in Glasgow by Judah Passow. Burns Night is celebrated in Scotland on or around January 25. It commemorates the life of Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns. Burns Night celebrations typically consist of a Burns Supper, in which guests eat traditional Scottish foods, make toasts over rounds of drinks, and recite Burns’ poetry.

ABOUT SPERTUS INSTITUTE

Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership offers dynamic learning opportunities, rooted in Jewish wisdom and culture and open to all. Graduate programs and workshops train future leaders and engage individuals in exploration of Jewish life. Public programs — including films, speakers, seminars, and concerts — take place at the Institute's Michigan Avenue facility, in the Chicago suburbs, and online. For more information, please visit spertus.edu.

Spertus Institute is a partner in serving the community, supported by the JUF/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.

Burns Night by Judah PassowBurns Night at the L'Chaim kosher restaurant in Glasgow

» preview
» print quality

Burns Night is celebrated in Scotland on or around January 25. It commemorates the life of Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns. Burns Night celebrations typically consist of a Burns Supper, in which guests eat traditional Scottish foods, make toasts over rounds of drinks, and recite Burns’ poetry.

Guests Waiting by Judah PassowGuests Waiting

» preview
» print quality




Guests waiting for the bride and groom to leave the historic Garnethill synagogue at the end of an Orthodox wedding ceremony. The groom wears a kilt, a knee-length garment made of wool in a tartan pattern. Kilts originated in the 16th century when they were worn by Gaelic-speaking male Highlanders of northern Scotland. Today, they are most often worn by Scottish men on formal occasions and at Highland Games sporting events. In keeping with tradition, some Scottish men choose to wear kilts to their weddings, pairing the distinctly Scottish bottom with a tuxedo jacket top.