Exhibiting Jewish culture in Postwar Britain: Glasgow's 1951 Festival of Jewish Arts

Spiro, M. (2019) Exhibiting Jewish culture in Postwar Britain: Glasgow's 1951 Festival of Jewish Arts. Shofar, 37(3), pp. 95-130. (doi:10.5703/shofar.37.3.0095)

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The Festival of Jewish Arts in Glasgow was the first and largest Jewish festival in Britain, conceived as a response to, and timed to coincide with, the Festival of Britain in 1951. Held at Glasgow’s McLellan Galleries on Sauchiehall Street from 4-25 February 1951, the event showcased works from over fifty internationally renowned Jewish artists, antiquities dating back from the 13th century, musical performances, films, lectures, a book display and a run of sell-out performances of S. An-sky’s, The Dybbuk. In this essay, I offer the first sustained account of the festival by bringing together available documentation and analysing the “performance of display” and perspectives on Jewish culture the festival offered. As this essay argues, when looking at the material and tangible elements of the festival alongside the social and cultural ideals of its organisers, one can discern a complex negotiation between the historical place and space of the festival, the concerns of the community, and the tensions between minority and mainstream Scottish and British culture. The Festival of Jewish Arts thus provides a rare window through which to view a Jewish community grappling with issues of loss and reconstructing identity in the aftermath of Nazi atrocities while at the same time trying to transcend the perception of their Otherness and respond to British anxieties about Jewish refugees and the founding of the State of Israel.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Spiro, Dr Mia
Authors: Spiro, M.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > Theology and Religious Studies
Journal Name:Shofar
Publisher:Purdue University Press
ISSN (Online):1534-5165
Published Online:22 October 2019
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2019 Purdue University
First Published:First published in Shofar 37(3): 95-130
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
664651Jewish Lives, Scottish Spaces: Jewish Migration to Scotland, 1880-1950Miriam SpiroArts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC)AH/M006565/1CRIT - THEOLOGY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES