THE EDINBURGH JEWISH LITERARY SOCIETY
The Edinburgh Jewish Literary Society (‘The Lit’) was founded in 1888 with the purpose of bringing British culture to the Jewish immigrant population of Edinburgh. In the decades since then it has broadened its aims and become a forum for discussing a wide variety of topics covering all aspects of history, culture and society that have a Jewish connection. The Lit is still going strong and, in March 2014, celebrated its 125th anniversary with a festival of learning entitled ‘Enlightening Jews?’. An account of the event can be found in issue 73 of the Edinburgh Star, accessible at: https://www.edinburghstar.info/issue/no-73/
The Lit’s membership embraces those representing the rich diversity of ways of ‘being Jewish’ in Edinburgh, as well as others with a general interest in Jewish culture and religion. It therefore includes secular as well as religious Jews and non-Jews, and all are welcome at its meetings.
The Lit. meets on Sunday evenings in the Community Centre in Salisbury Road, a typical season running from after the High Holidays until around Passover, i.e. from October/November until March/April. Speakers who work on subjects of Jewish interest in the broadest sense are invited. They may be academics, writers, artists, musicians or activists, from Scotland, other parts of the UK or further afield. Some meetings are held on zoom or in a hybrid fashion.
Over the last few years, meetings have included talks on the work of Jewish poets, artists and thinkers, on antisemitism, the Holocaust, the Crusades, the art and function of the cantor, and Jewish humour. The Lit has also mounted debates, entertainments, films and some concerts. A flavour of what the Lit offers can be gleaned from its archive, available at: http://www.ejls.org/. The programme is organised by a Committee comprising a President, Secretary, Treasurer and Membership Secretary, together with 6-8 members elected at its Annual General Meeting, which takes place at the end of each session.
Refreshments are served after each meeting and help can be provided with transport. There is a modest membership fee and a suggested donation for non-members attending individual meetings. The meetings are publicised on the website, by email and by posters in the Synagogue in Salisbury Road.