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Paper Delves into Scottish Jewish Life

The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs releases a detailed study of Jewish life in Scotland.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 3/15/2010, 12:11 PM / Last Update: 3/15/2010, 1:57 PM

Jamie Campbell

The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) has released a detailed study of Scotland's Jewish community. While the community has shrunk considerably in recent decades, it remains strong and enjoys relatively low anti-Semitism and good connections with other religions.

The Jewish population in Scotland was estimated at 18,000 in the 1950s. In 2001, however, just 6,448 people defined themselves as “belonging to the Jewish religion” on census forms. Researchers say that number does not include those who were raised Jewish but are no longer religiously observant, or those who consider themselves ethnically but not religiously Jewish.

Researchers estimated that a total of over 12,000 Jews live in Scotland, but that many are not affiliated with the Jewish community, or chose not to answer voluntary questions about religion on the census form. The decline in Scotland's Jewish population was attributed primarily to emigration.

As in other countries, Scotland's Jews are more likely than non-Jews to be self-employed, and enjoy a higher average level of education.

The community has formed the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, which represents Jewish interests. The council has had a noticeable impact on local politics in issues regarding the Jewish community, such as protecting the right to practice kosher slaughter of animals (shechita) and requiring divorcing spouses to grant their ex-partner a religious as well as civil divorce.

While the community experienced a brief spike in anti-Semitism during the early 2009 Cast Lead counterterror offensive in Gaza, the overall rates of anti-Semitism are low. Only 10 anti-Semitic incidents were reported over the course of 2008.