Points of Arrival – a series of short films from the Jewish Lives/Scottish Spaces project

After a lot of work, our five short films are now finished and online!

The series is entitled ‘Points of Arrival’ and over the coming months we will be working with secondary school teachers to develop a set of classroom resources based on these films.

Each three-minute film concentrates on a historical Jewish immigrant to Scotland – where they came from, when and how they arrived, and their subsequent life here. Their stories are told by contemporary narrators, whose own lives resonate strongly with their subject matter. We’d like to thank these narrators for giving their time so generously and for the invaluable contribution they have made to these films. Likewise, huge thanks to documentary film-maker Chris Leslie, whose artistry, imagination and respect for his subject brings alive each of these five histories.

All five films are viewable in full on our Outputs page. Before you watch, here is some information about our movie stars, and why we feel their stories need to be told:

Isaac Hirshow (1883-1956)
Isaac was born in the small town of Velizh (now in Belarus). He studied and worked in Warsaw, before emigrating with his wife and son to the Gorbals in 1922 to take up the position of cantor at the Chevra Kadisha synagogue. In 1925, Isaac was offered the post of cantor at Glasgow’s prestigious Garnethill synagogue, where he remained for the rest of his life. Isaac wrote new music for Garnethill services and became an influential and much-loved figure in the Jewish community. A restless and creative artist, in 1938 he also became the University of Glasgow’s first ever graduate in Music – at the tender age of 45. The Cantata that Isaac produced as part of this degree is an important, although little-known, contribution to Jewish art music.

You can hear Syrian-Kurdish musician Adnan Shamdin tell Isaac’s story, along with some powerful parallels to his own journey, here (subtitled version here).

Annie Lindey (1886-1953)
Annie came to Edinburgh from Odessa when she was a young girl. Alongside being a successful businesswoman, she worked tirelessly for the Edinburgh Jewish community. Responding to a lack of welfare support for women, Annie founded the Ladies Benevolent Society, an organisation that supported poor families and single mothers in the Jewish community. She was first chair of the Ladies Guild, responsible for looking after synagogue religious items and caring for the sick and elderly. Annie was also the main inspiration and driving-force behind the creation of an Edinburgh Jewish Community Centre, which finally became a reality one year after her death.

You can watch her granddaughter Carole Cowen telling Annie’s story here (subtitled version here)

Hilda Goldwag (1912-2008)
Hilda was born into an artistic family in Vienna. She was able to graduate from art school, but in 1939 fled to Glasgow to escape Nazi persecution. The rest of her family were not so lucky. Hilda worked as a fabric designer and book illustrator, and in her sixties became a full-time painter. Wheeling her paints, brushes and easel around industrial Glasgow in a shopping trolley, she created paintings that celebrate the less-represented side of her adopted city: its backstreets, factories and broken fences. Hilda’s creativity, imagination and draughtsmanship can be seen in her many book, magazine and calendar illustrations, whilst her paintings are full of strong brushstrokes, bold colours and a powerful honesty.

Artist and photographer Emma Newcome tells Hilda’s story here (subtitled version here)

Henry Wuga (born 1924)
94 year-old Henry Wuga has been an outspoken campaigner for social justice and mutual understanding for most of his life. Arriving in Scotland as a teenage refugee from Nazi Germany, Henry went to school in Glasgow and afterwards began a successful career as a caterer. He and his wife Ingrid (also a wartime refugee) have raised a family in Scotland and speak regularly at schools and public events in the UK and in Germany – about their experiences as immigrants, about the welcome they received in Glasgow, and about the continued need for tolerance and acceptance. In telling his story, Henry draws unavoidable parallels with the lives and situation of contemporary refugees. You can watch it here (subtitled version here).

Dorrith Sim (1931-2012)
Dorrith arrived in the UK in 1939. She was one of 10,000 mostly Jewish children escaping the spread of Nazism, travelling on what became known as the Kindertransport. Dorrith was taken in by an Edinburgh family and after the war she remained in Scotland, raising her own family and becoming an active part of refugee association networks. Dorrith wrote a book about her childhood journey and spoke regularly to school and community groups. Her words, along with illustrator Gerald Fitzgerald’s images, give a simple and moving account of the uncertainties and fears that surround the experiences of refugee children.

Dorrith’s text is powerfully read and acted by Noa Wilkes – you can see it here (subtitled version here).

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