Festivals, Cultural and City Events

Edinburgh's Jewish history explored at Fringe

Edinburgh lays claim to the oldest Jewish community in Scotland, dating back to the 17th century, yet today, this history has been all but forgotten.

Passover 1917

A cross-disciplinary research, design and curatorial team from Jewish Studies, School of Divinity, the School of Architecture and the department of Cultural Studies in Edinburgh College of Art curated this unique exhibition showing as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival at the National Library of Scotland Map Library.

Thriving community

Located in what was the heart of Edinburgh’s once thriving Jewish community, the free exhibition revealed for the first time the little known history of Jews in Edinburgh.

Stories of immigration, World Wars, local conflict and daily life were explored and contextualised through mapping the impact of this once important community on the City itself.

Detailed topographical mapping identifying homes, places of work, types of professions and public spaces revealed the demographic shift from the "Jewish Quarter" near what is now the University and from the Leith and Dalry Jewish enclaves to Edinburgh’s southern suburbs.

Exhibition details

Edinburgh Jews ran from 1 August-5 September at the National Library of Scotland Map Library.

The opening hours were as follows:

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 9:30am-8:30pm
Wednesday 10:00am-8:30pm
Saturday 9:30am-1:00pm
Sunday Closed

Never-before-seen collections

Each display combined on a series of panels, informative text, newspaper articles, personal recollections, historic maps, paintings, drawings and photographs. A number of sources were from private family collections, which had never before been on public display.

Cameos of world famous figures, such as author Muriel Spark, Nobel Prize winner Max Born and the founder of the Edinburgh International Festival Sir Rudolph Bing, brought a further dimension, complementing the exhibition’s broader themes concerning the social and political history of Edinburgh Jews.

The exhibition was funded by the University of Edinburgh’s College of Humanities and Social Science Challenge Investment Fund 2012 and through the support of the Research Network in Jewish Studies at the University of Edinburgh.

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