Judah Passow – ‘Scots Jews: Identity, Belonging and the Future’

At Trongate’s ‘Street Level Photoworks’, presents a stunning selection of black and white visual pieces. The exhibition is a celebratory collection of the Jewish Community that live and thrive within various locations throughout Scotland.

It is a fascinating insight into this particular heritage as the Scottish Jewish Community is substantially a lot smaller than most cultural heritages that are situated within Glasgow and other Scottish locations. It is a particular culture that has been present in Scotland since the 1700s and was the largest non-Christian Community. Even though the community have prospered in many admirable achievements and careers in science, medicine, creative arts, agricultural, manufacturing and even whiskey distilling, it is a culture that has remained on the quieter scale in comparison to how much we are aware of of cultural heritages that are present in Scotland.

The project focuses on a visual representation that explores the most prominent aspects of the Scottish Jewish Community’s lifestyle and culture. What is so visually striking about the exhibition is that it explores how the Jewish Scots have managed to hold onto the defining characteristics if their heritage yet still entwine it with the Scottish culture that they have embraced so comfortably.

There are shots taken that show children at a Synagogue in Glasgow getting taught the traditional practices of the religion which then moves over to images of them attending football matches in Glasgow. It also features an image of “Kosher” haggis being created in a kitchen at “Mark’s Deli” based in Glasgow that then gets exported world-wide to Scottish – Jewish populations in order to be consumed for Burns Night celebrations.These are strong example of how the community are absorbing their two cultures in equal measure.

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Michael Mail is the the creator and organiser of this exhibition. He has wanted to give viewers the chance to be involved in this exploration of his heritage that has blended in quietly for these past centuries. The photographer Judah Passow has proved to be the ideal candidate to be involved in this visual style of storytelling.

“I was looking for away to recognise and celebrate the story of the remarkable, yet little known Scottish Jewish Community – my community. When I camedee across Judah Passow’s photography, I immediately realised that he had the skill, sensitivity and artistry to take on this subject and create a truly memorable piece of work.”  Michael Mail

The images that have been captured serve an almost cinematic quality to the stories being told. There is one particular striking shot of a Jewish wedding of a groom taking part in “Hora”, the famous chair dance in which the bride and groom are seated in chairs then bravely hoisted into the air by their guests. The way the vision has been captured is timed perfectly with the groom being photographed in mid-flight, you can almost feel the impact of him soaring above the crowd. There is other fantastic landscape shots of Sottish scenery which is an effective contrast to the shots taking place within the cities.

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“This project has been a real voyage of discovery across the spiritual and cultural landscape of Scotland. One of its more remarkable features is the warm, proud Jewish community that has become so tightly woven into the national fabric. I hope people looking at those photographs will see what I saw – a people deeply devoted to their heritage both as Jews and Scots.” Judah Passow

The project was supported by Creative Scotland and started its commencement by Judah on Hogmany, 31st December 2012 in Stonehaven. The project was rounded off with the last set of photographs taken on a weekend pheasant shoot in Hurlford, Ayrshire, December 2013. With the vast variety of shots that have been taken that feature so much movement and vitality, it is clear to show that a lot of time and in depth research has been put into this project.The exhibition is free of entry and also provides merchandise so visitors can have they chance to look over the images after they have left the exhibition.

The exhibition commenced on the 12th of February 2015 and will continue to be shown until 12th April 2015 at ‘Street Level Photoworks’ 103 Trongate.

Joanna Gifford

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