Saturday, August 2, 2008
The Kosher Tartan Insures Scottish Jews Get Their Own Kilts
By Jasper Hamill
THE WORLD'S first "kosher tartan" is ready to roll off the production line after designers created a plaid pattern dedicated to Scotland's Jewish community.
The tartan will be used to create ties and yarmulkahs, the skullcaps worn by Jewish males. All proceeds from the sale of the clothes - which are about to be made available to customers worldwide - are being donated to charity.
The Israeli ambassador to the UK has even been invited to come to be fitted with a kilt in the tartan.
Many young Jewish men, overwhelmingly from the Gorbals in Glasgow, were fitted for kilts when they joined the Scottish infantry regiments at the outbreak of the first world war, but there has never before been a Jewish tartan.
Dr Clive Schmulian, a Glaswegian dentist, came up with the idea for the kosher kilts at a charity dinner in Glasgow. He said: "I was sitting next to Paul Harris, editor of the Jewish Telegraph, wearing my Flower of Scotland tartan kilt and he asked me why there has never been a Jewish kilt and were there any Jewish tartans. There aren't any, so we commissioned Slanj a leading kilt outlet in Scotland to come up with three designs. We put them to an online vote on their website, 10,000 people voted and one was chosen.
"Our tartans can be worn by anybody linked to Judaism or Israel, so we expect interest from expats and Jewish people in Scotland."
The tartan used to make the kilt is made entirely of wool to avoid the ban on mixing fibres adhered to by orthodox Jews, and uses blue and white, which are the colours of the Israeli flag as well as of the Saltire. It will be registered with the new Scottish national register of tartan when it opens later this year. Slanj will soon be offering a range of products for Scottish Jews, including a Star of David kilt pin and a travel rug.
Brian Halley, director of Slanj, said: "I was approached by Clive, who wanted to commemorate 60 years of Israel, and we talked about the new tartan. We design a lot of tartans for organisations, but this was slightly different, so it was good to be involved."
Stanley Lovatt is chairman of JNF-KKL Scotland, a wing of an Israeli charity which is one of the beneficiaries of cash raised from the project. The charity will be selling the kilts and yarmulkahs on its website. Lovatt said: "I think this is a wonderful idea. I think it's innovative and novel. It's more than likely then I'll get a kilt myself.
"Those of us that were born in Scotland are very proud to wear the kilt and be associated with tartan and we wear it with pride. I know, having worn tartan abroad, that it creates an incredible reaction."
The move is already winning plaudits from Jewish communities in Scotland. Rabbi YY Rubinstein, from Glasgow, said: "It's a great celebration of two communities. It gives Scots the opportunity to celebrate their Jewishness with their compatriots."