Annual Report 1999-2000
1.1 1999/2000 was the second year of activity of the Centre. An extra-mural programme, comparable in extent to that in the first year, was successfully mounted, and particular attention was paid to maximising the use of teaching resources in Jewish Studies for the purposes of the developing undergraduate programmes. Continuing effort was devoted to long-term fund-raising, though with little initial success. Nevertheless, a clearer strategy for the future has emerged.
1.2 The format of this year’s report differs from that of last year. References to last year’s report are in the form (1999: Evaluation ¤4)
2.1 In preparing documentation for the purposes of fund-raising, the following mission statement was adopted:
The Centre seeks to
(i) maximise the teaching, undergraduate and postgraduate of Jewish Studies in the University of Manchester;
(ii) foster collaborative research between staff of the University of Manchester and others in the region;
(iii) bring the results of academic work in Jewish Studies to the wider community through various forms of extra mural activity, and
(iv) maximise the benefit of these various activities through dissemination of appropriate results on the internet.
3.0 Organisational development
3.1.1 The Centre now has some 29 Fellows, of whom only five are employed by the University primarily for Jewish Studies (three more in Bible and Ancient Near East), while the others (some employed by this University, some by other universities, some in other employment or self-employed) assist, often voluntarily, on a part-time basis. Fellows are appointed initially as Honorary Research Fellows (without further remuneration); as from 2000/01, one of these appointments will be converted into a (part-time) Teaching Fellowships, with modest remuneration, and as from 20001/02 a second such appointment is envisaged. The Centre aspires to increase the number of such Teaching Fellowships, and ultimately to convert at least two of them into full-time positions, in order to strengthen the provision particularly of modern Jewish history and modern Hebrew literature.
3.1.2 Four new Fellows have been appointed in the course of the last year: Daniel Langton and Sara Elliott, who both served for parts of the year as the administrator of the Shoah Centre, Clive Gilbert and Lucille Cohen, both of whom will offer mini-courses in the Centre’s extra mural programme next year.
3.1.3 Irene Lancaster has been appointed a Teaching Fellow, the first such appointment made by the Centre, for the coming academic year, and will offer a new second year undergraduate course, Landmarks in Jewish History, for which the extra-mural course (of the same title) in autumn 1999 (see ¤4.1, below) served as preparation.
3.1.4 The Centre was able to secure the services of Dr. Daniel Langton (who had previously served as a Research Fellow, for the preparation of the internet exhibition on “Manchester and Zionism”) on a part-time basis during the summer 2000, in order to assist both in the fundraising strategy and in enhancement of the web site.
3.2 Committee structure
The Centre has continued to operate along the lines outlined in last year’s report, with day-to-day decision-making in the hands of the co-directors, assisted by the Planning Committee, which now meets twice per annum. The External Liaison Committee has assisted both in defining the extra mural programme and in deliberating upon the fund-raising strategy. The Planning Committee has began to give serious attention to the formulation of a more defined organisational structure, and it is expected that this will be adopted in the course of the coming year.
3.3 Collaboration with the Shoah Centre
The Centre enjoys a close relationship with the projected Shoah Centre in Manchester, having provided the latter with shared office accommodation at the University. The Shoah Centre staff, reciprocally, provide administrative and secretarial services for the Centre for Jewish Studies. In the past year, this has proved the solution to the problem of secretarial/administrative support highlighted in last year’s report (1999: Evaluation ¤2). It is anticipated that the educational staff of the Shoah Centre, when appointed, will also be closely associated with the Centre for Jewish Studies, and will contribute to the teaching programme.
4.0 The 1999/2000 Programme
4.1 Jewish History course
A ten-week course entitled “Landmarks in Jewish History from the 1st century C.E. to Modern Times” was offered by Dr. Irene Lancaster between October and December 1999, and attracted an enrolment of over 30. It was offered in collaboration with the Centre for Continuing Education, who dealt with the enrolment procedures and publicity, while the Centre took most of the fee income and paid the costs. While this arrangement proved broadly satisfactory, it was agreed that it produced something of an organisational hybrid, to be avoided in future. However, there will be continuing collaboration between the Centre and the CCE at the level of reciprocal publicity, and this has already been usefully implemented in relation to the programme for the coming academic year.
4.2 Extra-Mural Lectures
A programme of nine individual lectures by different Fellows of the Centre was mounted on Tuesday evenings between January and March 2000 at the Sha’are Hayim Synagogue, Withington. The attendances were lower than in the first series of such lectures mounted at that location, in the previous year. Some lectures were poorly attended, and the average was around 15-20. Various reasons have been suggested for the relative lack of support for this programme, as compared to the previous year. It has been decided that this kind of programme — a series of unrelated lectures by different speakers — is easily mounted by other communal organisations (such as the Jewish Historical Society), and that the Centre may more appropriately devote its efforts to more concentrated series. For the coming academic year, a number of different “mini-courses”, each of either four or five sessions, have been organised.
4.3 Research Seminars
A series of four Research Seminars was organised, with distinguished speakers from London and Cambridge. All were well attended and greatly enjoyed. In addition, an occasional ad hoc “Rabbinics Seminar” was instituted, taking advantage of the presence in Manchester of other visitors: Professor Stefan Reif and Rabbi Jeremy Rosen. These seminars were particularly directed at postgraduate students, and contributed towards the creation amongst them of a greater appreciation of the role of the Centre in providing a meeting point for postgraduate students in Jewish Studies.
4.4 Sherman Lectures
The Sherman Lectures were delivered in May 2000 by Professor Judith Plaskow of New York, on the theme “Contextualizing Sex”. They attracted a very appreciative audience, of a respectable size. Professor Plaskow also gave a staff seminar and participated in an open undergraduate class in Professor Jackson’s Jewish law course. She also delivered a Community Lecture at Mamlock House, and participated in a one-day conference organised by the Centre for Gender, Religion and Society.
4.5 Limmud Day
The Centre collaborated with Limmud in the organisation of a Limmud Day 2000 on Sunday February 27th, in the Architecture Building on campus. A local organising committee, headed by Dr. Irene Lancaster, was recruited, and achieved the great success of an enrolment of more than 400, with approximately 40 speakers.
4.6 MMU course
At the invitation of the Multicultural Studies Programme at Manchester Metropolitan University, the Centre provided speakers for a five-week, one-evening-per-week, course on ‘Jewish Identity Throughout the Ages’, which took place between mid-May and mid-June 2000. By co-operating with MMU for this course and with CCE in respect of Dr. Lancaster’s Jewish History course (¤4.1, above), we hope significantly to extend our outreach audience beyond the Jewish community, which in our first year was our primary target, to the wider community. We have been approached by MMU to provide speakers for a further course, on “Jews in Society: Four Biographical Studies”, in the coming academic year.
5.1.0 The Undergraduate Programme
5.1.1 The Centre initiated a review of undergraduate teaching in Jewish Studies, by convening a meeting of interested staff mainly from the Departments of Middle Eastern Studies and Religions and Theology. This highlighted a number of historic restrictions, inhibiting students of one department from choosing freely from Jewish Studies courses offered by the other department. In the light of this review, and in the context of ongoing course monitoring and development, both departments are revising their degree structures. The net result is that, as from the 2001 intake, Jewish Studies may be taken within the following degree structures:
(A) BA with Honours in Hebrew and Jewish Studies (in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies: commencing September 2001)
(B) BA with Honours in Hebrew (in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies: commencing September 2001)
© B.A. (Hons) in Combined Studies (in the Department of Combined Studies): combining Jewish Studies with one of eleven other subject areas: no language requirement.
(D) B.A. with Honours in the Study of Religion and Theology (in the Department of Religions & Theology): no language requirement.
5.1.2 In 1999/2000, the first students entered ©, the newly-approved Jewish Studies area within the Combined Studies degree. In this, they study a joint honours degree consisting of Jewish Studies and one other area, with the proportion of Jewish Studies varying, at the choice of the student, between one third and two thirds of the entire degree.
5.1.3 Areas covered in undergraduate teaching presently include: Hebrew language, Biblical Hebrew, Introduction to Judaism, the World of the Ancient Israelites, Comparative Semitic Philology, Prophetic Literature, Dead Sea Scrolls, Classical Rabbinic Texts, Medieval Hebrew Texts, Mystical Tradition in Judaism, Jewish Liturgy, Jewish Ways of Reading the Bible, Jewish Theology, Law and Narrative in the Hebrew Bible, Jewish Law and Problems of Modern Jewish Life, Modern Hebrew Literature, Ancient Israel: Recent Research, Archaeology of Jerusalem and Palestine, Biblical Archaeology, Jewish Aramaic Texts, Being Jewish in Britain, Jewish Law in the Modern State of Israel, Jewish Philosophy in the 20th Century, The Holocaust, Race and Ethnic Relations.
5.1.4 Students on other degrees may also take Jewish Studies courses as outside subjects, to the extent permitted by their particular degree regulations. It is also possible to take individual Jewish Studies courses, with the consent of the teacher, as a “Visiting Student”, without registering for any degree. Such students are not assessed and receive no credits; they simply participate in classes. There is, however, concern that the level of fees currently required by the university may prove prohibitive.
5.2 The Taught M.A. in Jewish Studies
The Centre has been concerned to try to increase the number of students on the MA in Jewish Studies, by a combination of publicity measures and bursary schemes (see 1999: B). This shows signs of bearing fruit in the coming academic year; at the time of writing, eight new students have accepted places on the course. The M.A. is also in the course of expansion in terms of the range of courses taught. Its role in promoting Jewish education within the community has been recognised through the establishment of two bursary schemes. The Lionel Black Bursary Fund supports two students on the M.A. in Jewish Studies by contributing to their fees. The UJIA Bursary Scheme offers more substantial support to either undergraduate or post-graduate students who wish to follow a career in teaching Jewish Studies and/or Modern Hebrew.
5.3 Postgraduate Research
It is proving more difficult to recruit new postgraduate research students. In 1999/2000, the Centre made its first appointment to a three-year postgraduate studentship, covering both fees and a contribution to subsistence and assisted a second doctoral candidate with fees. Currently we have 13 (?) students registered for Ph.D’s in Jewish Studies. We aspire to a significant increase in such numbers, but this is unlikely unless we achieve an ability to offer further funding. We would also wish to explore the possibilities for “distance” supervision of postgraduate students, using the facilities of modern technology. This could very significantly enhance our recruitment potential, but may require some revision of regulations at the university level.
6.1 Individual Research
Members of the permanent university staff have been concerned in the past year with the achievement of their personal research targets, in the context of the coming RAE, for which the cut-off date for publications is the end of December 2000. Though much valuable individual research has been completed, the pressures of the RAE have inhibited the development of collaborative research plans. It is hoped, however, that this balance will be redressed in the course of the coming academic year.
The Centre has agreed to establish a new electronic journal in Jewish Studies: entitled Melilah (New Series), the Manchester Journal of Jewish Studies, which will carry articles which have been through normal processes of peer-review, as well as a substantial book review section. Edited by Fellows of the Centre, it has attracted a prestigious international advisory board of leading scholars from Israel, the US and Europe. Much time and energy has been devoted in the past year to consideration of the technical problems of making available articles with Hebrew script on the internet. With assistance from Dr. Langton and Dr. Nissan, we believe that we have now arrived at viable short-term and longer-term solutions, and anticipate soliciting the first round of articles shortly, with a view to their publication in the course of the coming academic year.
6.3 Collaborative research proposals
Preliminary discussions have taken place this year regarding the development of collaborative research grant proposals, directed particularly to AHRB and Leverhulme. Priority must be given to this in the course of the next academic year, not least in the light of the success in the most recent round by Southampton and Leeds.
6.4 The Yoffey Papers
In its drive to foster increased historical research into Manchester Jewry, the CJS has sponsored the writing of an index and catalogue of the papers of Rabbi Israel Yoffey, currently held at the Local Studies Unit of the Central Reference Library, which cover the period 1898-1934. Rabbi Yoffey was a colourful, multifaceted Eastern European rabbi who made Manchester his home and who directly influenced its religious and Zionist developments: he was a founder member and the first head of the Manchester Beth Din. The archive includes materials in Hebrew, Yiddish, Polish, French, German, and English. Yoffey kept up a correspondence with Jewish communities in Lithuania, the Ukraine and elsewhere in Eastern Europe. The catalogue has been placed on the CJS website, providing easy access for anyone. Like the internet exhibition on “Manchester and Zionism”, this project represented a substantial investment of Centre resources (£3000), of which we recovered only £500 from local sponsorship (the Eventhall Family Trust).
7.0 Web development
7.1 The Centre seeks to maximise the use of its various programmes, for the benefit of the wider community, by mounting texts generated by those programmes on its web site, freely available to all. Abstracts of the Sherman Lectures from 1998 are available on the site, as are abstracts of extra-mural lectures and some research seminars. This year, the site has been enhanced both presentationally and by the addition of an internal search engine, abstracts (and some full texts) of lectures in the spring 2000 extra-mural series, the Sherman Lectures and the Limmud Day conference, and — most notably — a catalogue, commissioned by the Centre, of the papers of Rabbi Israel Yoffey (¤6.4, above).
7.2 We aspire to provide our expertise to a wider community through the use of the internet. The materials/equipment cost is minimal, given our access to the internet. As our experience with the internet exhibition has shown, the main cost is that of staff time. For the continuing updating and enhancing of our web site, including technical support work for Melilah, we need to be able to create a part-time post or employ a part-time consultant.
7.3 There is, however, a considerable distance between the provision of “cold” data on the web, and a genuine “distance learning” facility (for both award-bearing and thus income-generating courses and other purposes). We believe that Jewish Studies is well placed to market genuinely interactive web-based learning, but considerable investment is required even to pilot such schemes, particularly if they involve the use of multi-media (not just text-based) communication, and the size of the market, plus the price it may be willing to pay for such facilities, is largely unknown. This may well prove an area in which collaboration with other institutions will be beneficial, perhaps even necessary. Unless we are to adopt a purely reactive stance, substantial investment in staff time is a necessity.
8.0 Relations with the Community
We have developed a warm relationship with a number of institutions of the local Jewish community: we are represented on the Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester, which — together with the Zionist Central Council — sponsors the annual Sherman Community Lecture. Fellows of the Centre have addressed a large number of communal groups. Last year I commented (1999: Evaluation, ¤1) that we had been unsuccessful, thus far, in attracting interest/participation from the local Jewish schools or students (other than those registered on our courses), despite conversations with Rabbi Rubinstein and Mr. Rowe. This remains largely true, despite the fact that Professor Alexander has lectured to groups of students from Yavneh and I secured a meeting with Mr. Rowe during the year, and was invited to address the 6th form (changed, on the day, to a younger group!). Prospects may possibly improve with the appointment of a new Director of Jewish Studies at the King David Schools. On my visit, I tried to float the idea of students using part of their “gap year” to take some Jewish studies courses as “tasters”.
9.1 Current income
The Centre currently has an income of c.18k, of which 10k is regularly provided by the University; the rest is currently pledged on a year by year basis by individual donors.
9.2 Forward Budget
The Centre has sought to conserve income in its early years, knowing that its teaching commitments will increase as students on new programmes progress. This programme of modest but increasing activity is currently funded through the 2000/01 financial year, but will show a deficit of about 10k (on current income) the following year, and a recurrent deficit of 15k on the level activity anticipated from 2002/03 (when there will be no carry-forward of surpluses conserved from previous years). It is clear from this that the coming year will be crucial for the future prospects of the Centre. If the above deficits are not covered, it is difficult to see how the Centre can contemplate even the basic level of activity needed to sustain its credibility.
9.3 Fundraising prospects
Fundraising efforts resumed, after a period dominated by research priorities, in Spring 2000. Following discussion at the External Liaison Committee, it was decided to hold a fundraising event in a private home, targeted at an invited audience and with a high-profile speaker. We secured the assistance of a host for this event, at whose suggestion the target audience was considerably expanded. However, there was insufficient response to the invitations to justify proceeding. Differing views are held as to the reasons for this, and a full evaluation has yet to be completed. One benefit has, however, accrued: an expansion of the group of people seriously interested in assisting us in fundraising. A meeting of this group is to be held shortly, to consider the next steps. However, it has now become apparent that concurrent efforts ought to be directed to the following four distinct forms of income generation:
(a) fundraising for general recurrent purposes, by the institution of a Sponsors/Friends scheme (such as was to have been initiated at the aborted event this summer) and perhaps by the holding of fundraising social events;
(b) fundraising for specific purposes, sometimes in collaboration with partners: for example, consultations are presently under way with Zionist organisations regarding the possible establishment of a Lectureship in Israeli Studies, the holder of which might divide his time between the university and the community;
(c) applications to appropriate charitable trusts and foundations for projects close to their known interests: research directed towards this end has been conducted this summer by Dr. Langton, and it is hoped that a round of applications will be made in the autumn;
(d) applications for public research funds (see ¤6.3, above).
B.S. Jackson August 30, 2000