Welcome to the website of the Aberdeen Hebrew Congregation! We are a traditional Synagogue in the centre of Aberdeen, serving the Grampian region and the North East of Scotland. Although our numbers may be small, we are a thriving community. We don't have a permanent rabbi, but we do host a series of social, cultural and religious events throughout the year. Visitors are always welcome to our shul, and indeed on many occasions visitors have helped us make a minyan.
Jewish life in Aberdeen can be difficult at times, but it is also very interesting and rewarding. Our shul is the cornerstone of spiritual life for many of our local Jewish and non-Jewish families and friends.
Our shul and website receive no external funding and are staffed entirely by volunteers. Emails and queries will be answered, but please be patient. Any queries regarding the site may be directed to the webmaster. For other queries and information, or to be added to our mailing list, please contact the information office of ASJCC.
Our membership fees have remained the same for this year. (Membership year starts on 1 November). Our current rates are: Single membership £80; 2-adult membership £120; Concession (Students and unwaged) £10. Children can attend all our events for free, if accompanied by a paying adult.
Another option is our Social Membership rate which is available for non-Jewish friends who wish to support the shul and attend our various social events throughout the year - this is £40.
We never exclude anyone on the grounds of affordability. If you want to speak to someone to discuss your options, please contact the Information Office.
As we rely entirely on membership fees, donations and rent to keep the shul running, please consider becoming a member if you haven't already subscribed! There are various ways to do this. At the moment we have paper forms available at the shul, and an online version will shortly become available. A popular option is monthly payments by standing order from your bank. Please contact the Treasurer for details of how to set this up.
Our Gallery page has pictures of events that have taken place in the Shul. This is being constantly added to, so please keep checking back!
We are a charity registered in Scotland - SC002901
If you wish to support us financially, please ask for a Gift Aid form to be sent out to you.
Easy Fundraising is one of our initiatives to raise money for the refurbishment of the Synagogue. For every online purchase you make from over 2000 retailers (including Ebay, Amazon and Just Eat) a small %age of their profit comes to us! All you have to do is register, then click through their site and shop as normal. This does not cost you anything, but makes a big difference to us. Click on the link above for further information, or to register.
If you want to support our capital projects, you can use PayPal to donate to our Renewal Fund. Please be assured that every single penny is carefully considered, and spent where it will achieve the most impact. Our next capital projects will be upgrading the wiring and refurbishing the toilet block. (If you are a taxpayer, you should also complete a Gift Aid declaration, to enable us to claim back an extra 25% from the Exchequer, at no extra cost to you!)
The cost of the materials for our printed newsletters is about £40 - not cheap for a community with many on the mailing list but few paying members. If you would be interested in helping to sponsor future newsletters, please contact the information office.
After our monthly Shabbat morning service, we organise a friendly communal Kiddush. Please sponsor a kiddish to celebrate a birthday, an anniversary, or just because you want to. All financial contributions would be very gratefully received. For details, please contact the information office.
Advertise on our website!
We can carry small adverts on our website. Please contact the webmaster to discuss.
Our present shul is situated in a Georgian town-house, built in the early 1800s, in a conservation area. It was consecrated on D-Day, 1945 and so this year we are celebrating our 71st anniversary in the building. Prior to this, the Aberdeen Synagogue was located in a rented, converted town house in Marischal Street, but had to move out as the rooms were too small.
Local anecdotal history tells of Jews - mainly Azhkenazi, from Latvia and Lithuania - being present in Aberdeen right back to the times of Robert the Bruce, who was said to have given land to Jewish settlers around the Kingsgate area of the city.
Research by one of our former members, Dr Nathan Abrahms (now of Bangor University) suggests that there were also Jews in Aberdeen at the time of the reign of King James VI (King James I of England) but there was no "proper" Hebrew Congregation until at least the 1880's. This link gives some recently-uncovered details of the first Shul, at Marischal Street.
The Jewish community in Aberdeen at that time even had their own Sochet (kosher butcher), leading to the famous Aberdeen Shechita Case of 1893, brought shortly after the Swiss government banned the kosher method of slaughter. The butcher was released from charges of animal cruelty on the uniquely Scottish verdict of "Not Proven", a decision that causes controversy to this day.
We are always interested in seeing any old photgraphs, cine film, newspapers or other items of local history connected with our shul. Please email the webmaster!
Our congregation is both dynamic and diverse. Due to the nature of Aberdeen as a city, many of our members are only here for a short time due to employment circumstances. Others are here to study at one of our two Universities or the College. There are some longer-term members who have been here for many years, and of course we get visitors and tourists too.
Some members are Scottish, some from overseas; some are Orthodox, some Reform, some Liberal and some Progressive. We welcome visitors from any school; that's why we call ourselves a "traditional" Synagogue. Sometimes, we even create our own, unique traditions.
As we do not have a permanent Rabbi, all of our Friday and Saturday services are led by members of the congregation. Usually this involves a liturgy in Hebrew, but sometimes parts will be in English, depending on who is present. Our usual siddur is the Authorised Daily Prayer Book of the British Commonwealth of Hebrew Congregations (ed. Simon Singer, ISBN 1857332555) - sadly this has been out of print for some time, although copies occasionally turn up on Amazon or Ebay. These may be borrowed in the shul for services.
Men and women are usually seated separately. Space does not permit us to have a balcony, but there is a dias at one end of the sanctuary for the ladies to sit "apart" from the men. Male visitors should wear a kippah (yarmulke) and these may be borrowed from the shul. Some members also wear a tallit, although this is not essential.
For the main High Holidays, an Orthodox Rabbi from another shul will usually lead the services. Please check our Events page for details of these.
Members are also reminded that the New Year started on 1 November - please renew memberships if you have not already done so! Membership forms for ASJCC are available from the shul or in electronic format, please contact the Webmaster if you would like one posted out or emailed to you. All support is vital and very much appreciated.