Hundreds of Scotland’s Jews filled a hall in the Glasgow suburb of Giffnock for an exhibition extolling the variety of kosher foodstuffs in today’s marketplace.

The Lubavitch Kosher Food and Wine Expo, the fifth of its kind in the country, included demonstrations from local kosher chefs, children’s activities, and a class on baking the traditional Shabbat bread known as challah. Rabbi Chaim and Sora Jacobs, who opened the first Chabad-Lubavitch center in Scotland some 40 years ago, presided over the event.

“I think I’ve been at all of the expos,” said Cynthia Lovat, who officially opened the event with her husband Orrie Lovat. Once again “the atmosphere was buzzing.”

Last Sunday’s extravaganza featured samples of kosher food and wine, as well as explanations about the different organizations that supervise kosher food production. Some 100 children took part in the “Kids in the Kitchen” demonstration, while adults attended demonstrations by caterer Henry Wuga, chefs Marlene Camber and Mindelle Greenhill, and Allistair Docherty, chef of L’Chaim’s Restaurant, the only kosher establishment in the country.

A wine tasting table displayed a variety of kosher wines, including pomegranate wine, that are now available in the country.

In keeping with Jewish dietary constraints, most of the food displays – including a spread of Highland and Loch Fynn smoked salmon – were neither meat nor dairy, and were classified instead as pareve. Several of the meat displays, though, had signs advising those sampling the foods to wait a certain number of hours before eating dairy products. Jewish law prohibits the mixing of meat and milk, and provides for a length of time that varies across communities between eating meat and dairy.

For Sydney Barmack, it was the deli counter that drew his attention.

Run by L’Chaim’s, the counter offered potato pancakes, hot dogs, French fries and a traditional Shabbat beef stew known as cholent.

His granddaughter, meanwhile, kept busy at a stall decorating sponge cakes.

Children at the event enjoyed a hands-on challah-baking demonstration.
Children at the event enjoyed a hands-on challah-baking demonstration.

Communal Pride

While the food took center stage, many attendees appreciated the chance to socialize with more than 500 fellow community members. The last such expo, held five years ago, attracted about 350 people.

“It is great to have anything Jewish to bring people together,” said Lovat, a retiree who once taught at the Jewish school run by Lubavitch of Scotland. “I don’t see many of the people during the year.”

“It was very friendly,” offered Barmack.

In addition to its Hebrew school, Lubavitch of Scotland runs a girls club and Torah classes, and hosts business lunches, and Friday night dinners for singles and teenager.

Along with the kosher expo, recent events have included throwbacks to traditional Scottish themes. The Jacobs, for instance, hosted a kosher “Burns Supper” to celebrate the life and poetry of 18th century writer Robert Burns. The meal included a bagpipe salute and a kosher form of haggis, a traditional Scottish sausage-like pudding made from sheep organs.

Chaim Jacobs said that with all of the activity, grand gatherings like the kosher expo help keep everyone together.

“There were so many people,” said the rabbi. “We all thought it was a fantastic success.”