TWENTY-nine years ago, in April 1990, the Glasgow Herald published an intriguing article about the history of Jewish people in the city, prompted by the a new book, The Second City Jewry: The Jews of Glasgow in the Age of Expansion, 1790-1919.

The publication of the book, written by Dr Kenneth E. Collins, a prominent member of the Jewish community in Scotland, marked the seventy-fifth anniversary of the establishment of the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council.

In his book Dr Collins traced the presence of Jews in Glasgow back to 1790. The first Jew known to have settled in Glasgow was a hatter, Isaac Cohen, who has been credited with the introduction of the silk hat to Scotland.

By 1879 the Jewish community had grown sufficiently to open a purpose-built synagogue in Garnethill.

The Garnethill Synagogue’s website itself makes interesting reading. “By the 1870s,” it says, “the community numbered around 1,000 and looked to build a permanent synagogue for the first time in Scotland as the converted synagogue in George Street (opened 1878) was full.

“This decision to build the synagogue was decided by the Special General Meeting in October 1875 and the site at the corner of Garnet Street and Hill Street was decided by a majority of votes as the location for the new Synagogue. It was believed that this location was popular because many of the Jewish community were moving to the West of the city, especially many of the leading figures of the community”.

The first donations to the building fund arrived in November 1875; the foundation stone was laid two years later, in March. The synagogue was officially opened on September 9, 1879.

Garnethill Synagogue, the website continues, has been described as the finest example of high Victorian synagogue architecture north of Liverpool and has also been included in the top ten of historic synagogues in the UK by Jewish Heritage UK.

The photograph of the synagogue’s exterior was taken in around 1990; the main image dates from Sunday, September 1, 1963. n that day, Glasgow’s Lord Provost Peter Meldrum and 10 city magistrates were present at the synagogue when its minister, the Rev Dr I.K. Cosgrove, reconsecrated the building after a cmplete redecoration.

The service also included the dedication of memorial windows to former members of the congregation. A reception was afterwards held in the McLellan Galleries.In 1995 the synagogue was awarded almost £60,000 in Heritage Lottery funding to carry out repairs. In February 1998 a rededication service was carried out by Britain’s Chief Rabbi, Dr Jonathan Sacks, after a $640,000 refurbishment.