Eleven of us enjoyed a visit organised by Professor Joe Goldblatt on 24 May to the Garnethill Synagogue in Glasgow, the heart of Scotland's Jewish community.
Scotland's first purpose-built synagogue was completed in 1879 to the design of local architect John McLeod in consultation with London Jewish architect Nathan Joseph, and contains elements of Moorish, Romanesque and Gothic styles with some Byzantine features.
The main entrance doorway is 8 ft wide. Carved in the stone above in Hebrew is a verse from Deuteronomy the numerical value of whose letters adds up to the date of the foundation of the building.
The Prayer Hall has seating for 500 worshippers. There is a Ladies Gallery, as Orthodox Judaism requires men and women to be seated separately. The services are conducted by the Cantor from the Reader's Desk on a central raised platform made of polished oak.
The focal point is the Holy Ark, set in an apse in the Eastern Wall facing Jerusalem. The Ark houses the Torah Scrolls in which the Five Books of Moses are hand-written on parchment. The domed window above the Ark has a panel on which are written the first two Hebrew words of each of the Ten Commandments. An Eternal Lamp is placed there in remembrance of the light of the Temple. 
Sermons are delivered from the Pulpit on which are inscribed the names of some distinguished former lay leaders of the congregation. 
The synagogue was extensively restored in 1998 and rededicated by the Chief Rabbi.  Today it is Grade A-listed and recognised as one of the UK’s top ten historic Synagogues.  
The Scottish Jewish Archives Centre was established in Garnethill Synagogue in 1987, and has a nationally significant collection relating to the Jewish experience in Scotland. The Synagogue also houses the Scottish Jewish Heritage Centre and the Scottish Holocaust-Era Study Centre based on the Archives Centre's collection of documents, photographs, memorabilia and oral testimonies.  A permanent exhibition tells how Jewish immigrants came to Scotland from the late 1700s fleeing poverty and persecution and in search of religious tolerance, political freedom, educational opportunity, and the chance to make a better living, making a mark out of all proportion to their numbers on aspects of Scottish life ranging from medicine to art and politics. 2500 refugees from Nazi tyranny sought sanctuary here, and a timeline with map charts events in Europe and the response in Scotland from 1933 to 1945. Following the Garnethill Refugee Trail allows discovery of places connected with those refugees.