Glasgow Jewish Educational Forum

Does our Community Need a Holocaust Memorial?

Posted by Admin on August 27, 2008

Earlier this summer, GJEF was honoured to sponsor a lecture by Dr Stephen Smith, chair of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust. For those who were present on the night, it was a privilege to hear the considered view of one of the leading authorities on the subject of Holocaust commemoration. 

Dr Smith addressed the question of the proposed Holocaust memorial in Scotland, an issue which, hitherto, had not been subject to any form of public discussion or consultation. His lecture examined some of the most difficult and complex questions associated with the proposed memorial; namely, whether East Renfrewshire is the most appropriate location for the memorial, and the difficult question of “ownership”:

Without taking anything away from the community of East Renfrewshire, would East Renfrewshire be the most obvious place to make a clear and unequivocal statement to the whole of Scotland? As founder of the Holocaust Centre in the middle of a field in rural Nottinghamshire, I have no grounds to question the generous hosting of a memorial in East Renfrewshire. However, the Holocaust Centre in Nottinghamshire is a private initiative developed at the time out of pure necessity. We used the very few resources to establish something in the UK fifteen years ago. That is a very different proposition to a memorial funded by a national government. If the community is the nation, then it has to reach the nation. If that means it has to be in central Glasgow or in Edinburgh that needs to be thought about now. I understand there is the offer of land, which is a wonderful gesture, because land is expensive. But it will be costly to get the location wrong. East Renfrewshire might indeed be the right place, but you only know that once feasibility is tested against other possible locations. I wonder whether that exercise has been done. If the community to which we refer is the Jewish Community, then East Renfrewshire will be just fine. If it is a wider community, then this location needs very careful thought.

[. . .] This raises the thorny problem of ownership. Who ‘owns’ the Holocaust memorial? Moreover, who owns the Holocaust? Let me rephrase that. Who has the right to represent the Holocaust, its causes, its history and its consequences, to the rest of society? We all know that the vast majority of victims of National Socialisms genocidal regime were Jews. From the outset, they were ideological targets of a pathological state, hell bent on their destruction. There is good reason to think about how to involve the Jewish community in the creation of Holocaust memorials and centres, because Jews do know about the Holocaust from the very core of their being. That partly explains why when a Holocaust memorial is considered, East Renfrewshire is an obvious choice for many. However, south of the border, it would be unthinkable to put a Holocaust centre for the general public in At Hendon Central or on Hampstead High Street. It places the ownership and the onus on the Jewish community and this is not a Jewish Community problem. Whatever it was that created the mass murder of the Jews of Europe it was not the making of the Jews. They suffered the tragedy, the problem lay elsewhere.

These are questions which we, as a community, have to address. To this end, GJEF is making available the text of Dr Smith’s lecture in order to facilitate an open debate on this issue.

Your comments on this issue are welcome.

To download a copy of Dr Smith’s lecture in *pdf or word format, please right-click on the associated file icon below, and select Save Target As from the context menu in Internet Explorer:

32 Responses to “Does our Community Need a Holocaust Memorial?”

  1. Not a Nationalist said

    I am knew on here. A friend told me about the Jewish community blog and I have just spent the last hour or so reading through the comments and articles posted.
    I have attended a few GJEF meetings. The most memorable were Jonathan Freedland, Mona Siddiqui and Alex Salmond.
    My friend told me that some people don’t like this blog because some communal figures have been targeted for criticism.
    My view on this having read a fair bit of the material posted is that much of what is written is fair comment and those that have been criticised probably deserve it.
    I have read what admin has posted about Stephen Smith and I found it very interesting.
    I heard about the possibility of a Holocaust museum in Rouken Glen park and I thought this was a very bad idea. I am delighted that an expert like Dr Smith seems to agree.
    One of our biggest communal problems is the lack of consultation about what effects us. The rationale seems to be that if you do not sit on 10 committees you have no right to ask questions. Quite a few people are aware that Dr Kenneth Collins was the person who proposed siting a Holocaust Museum in Rouken Glen and told the authorities that this is what the community wanted.
    How did he know? Who did he ask other than his fellow committee members?
    I don’t believe that we in Scotland need a Holocaust museum. There is a British one in Nottingham. Why do we require another one? There are far too many arguments at present regarding Scottish nationalism.
    I am proud to be Jewish and I am proud to be British. Scotland is a part of Britain and I really do not believe that the Jewish community would benefit in any way from Scottish independance.
    I don’t know if anyone saw the article in Monday’s Daily Record about the idea that Scotland should have a separate team in the 2012 Olympic Games. There was a smaller headline about the same thing – ” Jews set to fly our flag” – quoting Alan Susskind, Jewish Scotland squah team-manager. – ” I’ve won six medals for Team GB at Maccabiah Games and it felt great. But I would prefer to be representing Scotland”.
    Perhaps Alan Sussskind has always been a nationalist and only accepted British team membership and the hospitality of GB Maccabi because he couldn’t play for anyone else? Why does he prefer to be representing Scotland?
    We should stop kidding ourselves on that we as Jews have some Scottish identity! And Mr Susskind should be grateful that there was a British team that he could be part of and apologise to those who supported him as was really representing himself and not Great Britain.

  2. Not a Nationalist said

    Sorry – spelling mistake – ” I am new”
    not – ” I am knew”

  3. AN Athlete said

    Has anyone considered that the only reason for having a Scottish team rather than a British team is to give some Scots the opportunity of competing in an international competition. Very few are good enough to get into a Great Britain team. The standard of a Scottish team would not be high – in fact it would be very poor.

  4. Not an athlete said

    Perhaps the Scots should consider that they are likely to be candidates to win a gold medal in the race to be one of the most unhealthy nations on the planet. Rathet than banging on about what independance would do for Scots Alex Salmond should tell his countrymen to stop over eating, over drinking and cut down on smoking. Where else in the UK can you order a fried mars bar! Sums it up I think!

  5. Armchair Analyst said

    There are several issues here:

    Does a community the size of Scotland’s Jewish community ‘need’ a Holocaust Memorial?

    If not, does the proposed Holocaust Memorial serve an adequate educational purpose for the population at large?

    As The Holocaust was a unique event, but not necessarily a unique genocidal event, and if other recent genocides are presumably to be covered by the Memorial exhibit, should not the exhibit therefore more fittingly be titled ‘Genocide Memorial’?

    Should such a Memorial, in whatever form it ultimately takes, be situated within a Public Park originally gifted to the City of Glasgow for the ‘enjoyment’ of all its citizens?

    I’m sure that others will have questions too.

  6. Nachman Aaronovitch said

    You pose some relevant questions, AA, and I would suggest that we as a Jewish community no matter our size, should not and do not need a Holocaust memorial. The Holocaust was never our problem, it was our tragedy and its effects still influence our community lives three generations later. It is surely the problem of Christian Europe and it is up to them to deal with it.

    The sooner they recognise their problem, the better. And the sooner we get out of the Holocaust business and get on with our lives, also the better.

  7. Calderwood Parent. said

    More interesting discussion about Jewish School’s in this week’s JC. Rather Romain’s letter suggests that his group’s concern is that children have a well rounded religious education. The knee jerk criticism from the establishment is pitiful.
    The Community in Glasgow are fortunate thaty in Calderwood we have a healthy example of a faith school and the fact that a significant proportion of Calderwood’s pupils and teachers are not Jewish helps ensure that the children will not be negative or ignorant of those from a different background.
    I hope others agree.

  8. Another Calderwood Parent said

    I do agree. Rabbi Romain it would seem is only suggesting that faith schools must contribute to a healthy society and not be divisive and ignorant of the world they are living in. A faith school needs to show that it is a good school. Bad faith schools should not be tolerated. What is wrong with that?
    THe religious authorities want a free hand to do what they want qand I don’t think that is acceptable any more.

  9. Armchair Analyst said

    I’m a little out of the loop here. What is the definition of a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ faith school?

    Are all faith schools committed to teaching only creationism, or just the fundamentalist ones?

  10. Yet Another Calderwood Parent said

    A good faith school will teach the children about their culture, tradition and heritage. Calderwood Lodge manages to do this.
    Most of the parents I know are not really into creationism. Ask around how many people actually believe in that kind of thing AA – you may be surprised how few genuinely believe.

  11. Rabbi watcher said

    Rumours are sweeping the community that yet another of our Rabbis has decided to leave town. At this rate there will be none left soon.
    Is anyone able to confirm which one is leaving us?

  12. Tieless in Gaza said

    Far be it from me to divulge ecclesiastical secrets but it appears he has a free transfer to my London local, Woodside Park in Finchley. Bad news for you, my dear Rabbi H, but even in the metropolis. I haven’t been struck down for appearing in Shul, tie less.

  13. Rabbi watcher said

    Thank you Tieless for confirming that Rabbi Hackenbroch is off to London.
    Woodside Park no less – a good promotion for the Newton Mearns Rabbi.
    How do you know it was a free transfer?

  14. Mr Accurate said

    Will the last Orthodox Rabbi in Glasgow please remember to turn off the lights before he goes too!

  15. Another Rabbi Watcher said

    So let’s see. What are we left with?
    R Rubin at G&N – he seems reasonably settled, well as settled as Ronaldo is at Man U.
    A Soudry at Garnethill – does he really matter, after all they only have 1 weekly service.
    Jacobs & Son with their ever expanding business empire.
    And finally, a number of young black coats & hats in the Kollel.
    Oh dear, Oh dear what is happening in Glasgow.
    Incidentally, is Langside Shul still in business?

  16. emet said

    …maybe they’ll allow Rasbbi Nancy to attend their meetings and when she gets there she’ll be the only one left.
    Now tell me what do the Kollel bring to to our communal table ? They don’t mix , they don’t appear to recruit and they are not to willing to discuss Israel…why are they here ,who brought them and how do they fund themselves …can someone enlighten me ?

  17. Jacob said

    And how long do you think Rabbi Nancy will be around Emet? Face up to reality, organised religion is on the way down. Too many Shuls here. We need two – one Orthodox and one Reform. No more. The Rabbis can see the way the wind is blowing and getting out before they get a P45.
    Personally I think the Kollel are of no use to this community at all. The late Chaim Bermant once used a phrase in relation to another community matter that children would be better off in the streets unsupervised than under the care of a Glasgow Jewish Youth Organisation.
    It seems to me that this is true of the Kollel. Why anyone would want to send their children to learn with the Glasgow Kollel is quite astonishing. They cling to an outdated fanatical observance that is not a constructive approach to our modern world.
    Some members of our community continue to fund them – possibly the community trust are benefactors – and their leader Rabbi Bamberger is a wealthy man. The Kollel are not worth bothering about Emet – they can’t get people to come here easily and they will probably pack it in sometime soon. Hopefully even sooner than that.

  18. Crazy world said

    Am I the only person who has read this week’s front page of Jewish Telegraph and thinks that the world is going mad – or at least our Jewish community newspaper, journalist Sharon Mail and a Mr Ephraim Borowski?
    The story tells us that the Scottish Government has thrown out a plan to ban shechitah.
    The Telegraph may think this is worthy of front page news, Mr Borowski may be delighted about the news, Sharon Mail may want to write about it – but the most important fact is that ” shechitah is no longer carried out in Scotland ”
    So what’s the big deal?
    What a non-story.

  19. Not Always Negative... said

    I have no problem with the story in the JT re shechitah – who knows, there may come a time when the Community again wishes to carry out shechitah in Scotland and obviously it would be a problem if it was illegal. Having said that, it didn’t really need to be the lead story – there are plenty of other things of interest going on in and around Glasgow. But as a number of people have pointed out ScoJec have employed someone to write these stories and send them to the JT and having no reporter here, they are only too happy to accept them. Whilst most other organisations don’t have the funds to employ someone to do similarly it is always open for them to send information and reports on things that are newsworthy – I would be very surprised if the JT didn’t print the majority.

  20. Dangerous world said

    Apologies to all for bringing up the old subject of Lubavitch again.
    Alongside a flyer from Glasgow Lubavitch advertising a Rosh Hashanah event on Sunday, delivered through my letterbox yesterday, there is another insert which asks children to donate a dollar by credit card to have their name inscribed in a children’s safer Torah.
    Apparently this is ” by instruction of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M Schneerson” and by giving these people money “this will bring blessings for you and the whole Jewish people.” One is asked to post their donation to “Ffar Chabad” and visit their website ””
    Now, I am well aware that there are unfortunate people that believe in this kind of extortion but
    can I remind Chaim Jacobs that firstly Rabbi Schneerson is no longer alive and he, nor anyone else, can know whether this was by instruction of the Rebbe.
    Asking young children for their own money is immoral and he should know better.
    Those that send their children to such a movement, apparently to learn should think long and hard about what kind of material is being offered to their childre. It certainly cannot be described as education.

  21. J.H. Crist 11 said

    Does this dollar to be donated by credit card actually mean one US dollar at current daily exchange rates, or does it mean an inflationary one pound sterling for UK contributors?

    Apparently there were lines round the block in Brooklyn waiting to personally give the Rebbe one dollar during his first? lifetime. Did it do the donors any good?

    Some say yes, some say no.

    But once they have your credit card details, you are then in prime position to commit to making a convenient monthly automated donation, thereby multiplying your chances of said blessings coming your way.

  22. Nachman Aaronovitch said

    I’m a little confused. It appears that Rabbi Schneerson in one of his incarnations has the ability to direct blessings where appropriate. However, avid readers of this blog will remember that a local Lubavitcher Rabbi threatened me with withdrawal of blessings. So it seems that we have in our midst an even greater force than old M S. It would appear that the messianic age is nigh, the messiah is in our midst, the anointed one is ready and waitering in G76.

  23. Nachman Aaronovitch said

    G76? I meant G46!

  24. Lubavitch Watcher said

    For a fleeting moment I thought this latest Lubavitch wheeze had parallels with Fagin in Oliver Twist. And then I realised its much worse than that. In Oliver Twist, Fagin sent the children out to steal from the rich. Lubavitch are stealing from the children. What can be lower than this?

  25. Can't help being negative said

    As the subject of the nefarious dealings practised by Lubavitch has been raised, I thought you might like to know that they’re at it again!!

    The Chabad stable of campus Rabbis has been extended and a new post created in Edinburgh. This is in direct competition with the NR Student Chaplain and timed exactly to coincide with a short gap in service whilst a new person is recruited to replace Dovid Cohen. Rumour has it that Chaim has been pestering the good people of Edinburgh for funds – luckily most of them seem to have told him in no uncertain terms where to go.

    Students wont necessarily understand the difference – they will just go where the best & cheapest chicken soup is served and that will be Chabad because they will have a bottomless expenses budget!!

    People might say what does it matter – but these Lubavichers have no professional accountability and I suspect little understanding of academic & campus issues. They see their only accountability as being to the Rebbe so what sort of advice will they give when a student comes to them with a mental health problem, how will they advise students to respond to anti-zionist and/or ant-semitic motions on campus?

    It’s really worrying. Bet they have their eye on the NM Shul job as well – it will take some tough resistance and hard work attracting other candidates, to stop them trying to wheedle their way in everywhere.

  26. Another Lubavitch Watcher said

    Lubavitch seems to have something against children. Did anyone see the feature in last week’s JT about their fun day. Well that’s what it’s called. It’s actually only a fun 1½ hours – but I suppose 1½ hours in Chaim & Mendel’s company will seem like a day. Anyway I digress, as usual there is a charge – has Lubavitch ever done anything without charging – £5 for children and £2.50 for adults.

    I also noticed the advert on the back page of the JT about the RH gourmet meals at L’Chaim’s Restaurant. Sufficient bookings had to be received by 15 September to enable the event to go ahead. Will the anointed be waitering in G46? Perhaps Nachman is going. I think he should tell us.

  27. Interested said

    My relatives told me that last year they booked to go to L’Chaims for 2nd day Rosh Hashanah only to be cancelled by the proprietor at very short notice before Yom Tov.
    Not a lot of concern was shown that these elderly people now had nowhere to go for lunch.
    I would have thought that Lubavitch would have thought it was a mitzvah to feed the elderly on Yom Tov and even if they were not full they should have realised that there are other considerations to think about than making a good profit.
    Was it not Chaim himself that said the provision of a restaurant to our community was his way of giving something back to the community that had supported him or am I confusing him with someone else?

  28. Phil Space said

    I also know of an elderly couple who had booked to go and was particularly looking forward to this as the lady of the house had been unwell.
    Unfortunately for them the maître d / proprietor had been unable to contact them to let them know that the meal was off!
    Not to worry though Chaim was waiting for them at the door of the restaurant with some sandwiches. So who says he doesn’t care.
    Interested should realise that making a good profit comes before making a good meal as far as Lubavitch is concerned. Altruistic is certainly not an adjective we could use to describe Chaim Jacobs.

  29. Abie S See (hons) said

    Read this article on the BBC web site this morning. Why don’t these doctors & scientists save a lot of time & money by speaking directly to Lubavitch Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M Schneerson who could tell them all they need to know.

    Study into near-death experiences
    By Jane Dreaper
    Health correspondent, BBC News

    A large study is to examine near-death experiences in heart attack patients.
    Doctors at 25 UK and US hospitals will study 1,500 survivors to see if people with no heartbeat or brain activity can have “out of body” experiences.
    Some people report seeing a tunnel or bright light, others recall looking down from the ceiling at medical staff.
    The study, due to take three years and co-ordinated by Southampton University, will include placing on shelves images that could only be seen from above.
    This is a mystery that we can now subject to scientific study
    Dr Sam Parnia
    University of Southampton

    To test this, the researchers have set up special shelving in resuscitation areas. The shelves hold pictures – but they’re visible only from the ceiling.
    Dr Sam Parnia, who is heading the study, said: “If you can demonstrate that consciousness continues after the brain switches off, it allows for the possibility that the consciousness is a separate entity.
    “It is unlikely that we will find many cases where this happens, but we have to be open-minded.
    “And if no one sees the pictures, it shows these experiences are illusions or false memories.
    “This is a mystery that we can now subject to scientific study.”
    Dr Parnia works as an intensive care doctor, and felt from his daily duties that science had not properly explored the issue of near-death experiences.
    Process of death
    He said: “Contrary to popular perception, death is not a specific moment.
    “It is a process that begins when the heart stops beating, the lungs stop working and the brain ceases functioning – a medical condition termed cardiac arrest.
    “During a cardiac arrest, all three criteria of death are present. There then follows a period of time, which may last from a few seconds to an hour or more, in which emergency medical efforts may succeed in restarting the heart and reversing the dying process.
    “What people experience during this period of cardiac arrest provides a unique window of understanding into what we are all likely to experience during the dying process.”
    Dr Parnia and medical colleagues will analyse the brain activity of 1,500 heart attack survivors, and see whether they can recall the images in the pictures.
    Hospitals involved include Addenbrookes in Cambridge, University Hospital in Birmingham and the Morriston in Swansea, as well as nine hospitals in the US.
    Story from BBC NEWS:

    Published: 2008/09/18 05:00:51 GMT


  30. Lubavitch Supporter said

    I have had enough of this anti-Jewish claptrap.
    Chaim Jacobs works his butt off to promote Judaism in our community – with the children, the elderly, the hungry etc etc.
    And now we have people here taking the piss out of the Lubavitch concept of the moshiach.
    It is no more absurd or daft than those who go to Shul on Shabbat, and pray to the ” Almighty “. Is it any dafter than wearing a costume that resembles a bygone age in Eastern Europe.
    I’m sure that those on this blog that sneer at Chaim will be banging their chests on Yom Kippur, praying for forgiveness for their sins and asking for a good new year.
    Well, you had better pray especially hard this year after the stuff you have been posting on this blog.
    More likely, those that have go at Chaim have probably not been in a Shul for months.

  31. Will he no come back again? said

    Not convinced that it is ‘anti Jewish’ to be against the Lubavitch notion that the Rebbe will come back as the Messiah and is still in some way ‘alive’. This is dangerous stuff, and caused so much harm centuries ago with the false messiah Shabtai Zvi, never mind 2008 years ago, with another false messiah.

  32. Admin said

    Comments are now closed. Please see the latest news item on the front page regarding the Foreign Secretary’s lecture in Glasgow.

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