Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis met a wide cross-section of Scottish Jewry on his first official visit to the country.
Rabbi Mirvis kicked-off the three-day programme with a lunch with Edinburgh students and delivered a speech to the Church of Scotland General Assembly before travelling to Glasgow.
He held two meetings with community leaders and addressed around 300 people at Giffnock Synagogue. He led prayers at Newton Mearns shul and held a service at Calderwood Lodge Primary, Scotland’s sole Jewish school.
Praising Glasgow’s leadership, he stressed his desire to see smaller communities become more unified and for synagogues to be centres of local life.
“It is a thrilling experience to be here and I am privileged to be your Chief Rabbi. I hope this will be the first of many visits to Scotland. I’ve been enormously impressed with the leadership in the community and you are blessed with many wonderful rabbis.
“Rabbis need to be empowered. Going to shul should be something people want to do rather than feel obliged to do.”
Rabbi Mirvis’s address to the Church’s General Assembly was one year on from its “Inheritance of Abraham” report, which had been condemned by Jewish leaders for effectively calling for the destruction of the state of Israel. Addressing 800 delegates, he made the theological case for Israel. Glasgow Representative Council president Paul Morron said it was “an excellent speech which I believe could be a real game changer in the interfaith dialogue”.
With the rep council celebrating its centenary, Mr Morron presented Rabbi Mirvis with a commemorative brochure and a copy of the recently published illustrated history of the community.