Jewish Orthodoxy in early 20th century Scotland

Dr Hannah Holtschneider’s new biography of Rabbi Dr Salis Daiches explores a period of dynamic change for the ‘tartanised’ and incoming Jews escaping from war.

Hannah Holtschneider standing in front of bookshelves
Dr Hannah Holtschneider

The book, ‘Jewish Orthodoxy in Scotland: Rabbi Dr Salis Daiches and Religious Leadership,’ will be available in August 2019.

Edinburgh Synagogue. Image: Kim Traynor [CC BY-SA 3.0]
Edinburgh Synagogue. Image: Kim Traynor [CC BY-SA 3.0]

Original sources

By drawing on previously-unseen archival material, Dr Holtschneider provides new insights into the impact of new Jewish immigrants on Scotland’s existing Jewish community.

Sources included Rabbi Daiches’ personal correspondence, letters between the Chief Rabbi’s office, Scottish congregations, and Rabbi Daiches, records relating to the Conference of Anglo-Jewish Ministers/Preachers from 1909 until 1948, and the minute books of synagogues in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Publisher’s summary

Publisher Edinburgh University Press says:

“Kosher haggis, tartan kippot, and Jewish Burns’ Night Suppers: Jews acculturated to Scotland within one generation and quickly inflected Jewish culture in a Scottish idiom. This book analyses the religious aspects of this transition through a transnational perspective on migration in the first three decades of the twentieth century.

“As immigrants began to outnumber the established Jewish community, and Eastern European rabbis challenged the British Jewish leadership in London, Scottish Jewry underwent momentous changes.

“The book examines this tumultuous period through a thematic biography of Salis Daiches, Scotland’s most significant rabbi.”


Speaking on the publisher’s website, reviewer Todd M. Endelman, Professor Emeritus of History and Judaic Studies, University of Michigan, comments:

“Hannah Holtschneider skilfully contextualises Rabbi Salis Daiches’s career in Edinburgh and his emergence as the rabbinic spokesman for Scottish Jewry in the first half of the twentieth century.  She reveals him to be a canny opponent of Britain's chief rabbi, Joseph Hertz, and a relentless defender of the independence of Scotland's Jewish communities.”


Edinburgh University Press

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