University of Edinburgh to Be First Scottish Campus to Receive, House Torah Scroll
A Torah scroll will soon come to a Scottish campus, marking the first time ever a university in the country will have one on site, the rabbi leading the effort told The Algemeiner.
“It is very exciting for all the students at the University of Edinburgh,” said Rabbi Pinny Weinman, co-director of the school’s Chabad center, which will house the Torah.
More than 100 students and community members are expected to attend the scroll dedication ceremony next month, which will take place at a venue on campus and include an LED show from DeLighters, a physical performance troupe.
“Particularly given these challenging times in Europe, this is an opportunity to celebrate Jewish pride publicly in Scotland’s capital city,” Weinman said, alluding to the rise of antisemitism that has hit the UK, with attacks on Jewish students and faculty doubling last year.
Weinman added that though faculty and administration have been supportive of the Jewish students, life in Edinburgh can be tough, with minimal kosher facilities available and basic religious needs difficult to come by — not least of which, he said, was a Torah scroll.
Chabad of Edinburgh will receive its Torah courtesy of the Beis Yisroel Torah Gemach (BYTG), a free Torah-loan program that finds scrolls sitting unused in synagogues, then fixes and redeploys them to Chabad centers — and some non-Chabad institutions — around the world.
Bentzion Chanowitz, who founded BYTG, told The Algemeiner the Edinburgh Torah was made possible through the work of a donor who got involved with the loan program a few years ago.
“The donor saw how widespread the problem is of shluchim (Chabad emissaries) being able to accommodate a minyan, but unable to obtain a Torah. He said, ‘I can’t believe there are so many places missing the essential book,'” Chanowitz said.
Through Chanowitz’s vetting process, in partnership with Chabad on Campus International, the Edinburgh center was made a top priority — with many other locations still looking for similar assistance.