The only Scottish-born rabbi north of the border, a Chabad emissary, has created an official kosher tartan after 300 years of Jewish history in the country.
Rabbi Mendel Jacobs, who ministers to an independent Orthodox congregation in Glasgow, said he worked together with Mike Wilson, a registry official, to design the new tartan. It is officially registered with the Scottish National Register of Tartan in the name of the Jewish Community of Scotland.
Better, it’s already available in a variety of prayer shawls, kipas and other items. An invitation has been extended to the Israeli Ambassador to the UK for a fitting with a kilt in the new kosher tartan.
The new tartan is a kosher non-wool/linen mix that meets the requirements of shatnez: the Torah law that prohibits Jews from wearing any mixture of wool and linen in garments.
“Jews have always had a positive relationship with Scotland,” Jacobs said. “Scotland is one of the few countries where there is no history of persecutions. There are also a lot of Jewish ex-pats around the world with links to Scotland.”
The design incorporates blue and white, the colors of both the Israeli and the Scottish flags. The central gold line represents the gold from the Ark in the Biblical Tabernacle and the ceremonial vessels. “The silver is to represent the silver that adorns the Scroll of the Law and the color red is for the traditional Kiddush wine.” There are seven lines in the central motif and three in the flag representations – both numbers of great significance in Judaism.
International attention has been drawn to the new tartan, Jacobs said, and to the design which has managed to weave together both Jewish and Scottish culture.
The idea for creating an official Jewish tartan dated back to 2008 with a Glaswegian dentist, Dr. Clive Schmulian, who discussed the possibility with Jewish Telegraph editor Paul Harris at a charity dinner in Glasgow. Schmulian was wearing a Flower of Scotland tartan kilt at the time, and was asked if there had ever been a Jewish kilt or tartan. Eventually one was produced but is no longer made.
The Jewish presence in Scotland dates back to the late 17th century, although the current population is comprised mostly of descendants of immigrants who arrived in the 1800s. Most Jews live in Glasgow and Edinburgh.Hana Levi Julian