Annual Report 2001-2002
October 10, 2002
CJS Annual General Meeting and Fellows' Meeting
There was an attendance of approximately 30, including the following Fellows of the Centre: Professor Alexander (Co-Director of the Centre), Mrs. Cohen, Professor Frankenberg, Mrs. Garside, Professor Jackson (Co-Director), Dr Langton (Coordinator), Dr Unterman, Mr Williams.
The meeting welcomed Mr Dan Shaham, newly appointed Director of Public at Affairs at the Israel Embassy, attending the meeting as a guest.
Unless otherwise indicated, the minutes below represent also the report provided by Professor Jackson, Co-Director of the Centre, for the 2001-02 academic year.
1 New Fellows: Three new Honorary Research Fellows had been appointed by the Planning Committee in the course of the year: Cathy Gelbin (Department of German), Ronnie (ex of Anthropology) and Pauline Frankenberg.
2. Teaching Support: In the past year, the Centre had supported the part-time teaching of Dr Irene Lancaster and Dr Unterman, and had been able to make a substantial contribution to the full-time salary of Dr Langton. However, this had resulted in a minimal carry-forward of funds to the current financial year, so that it was no longer possible for the Centre to provide funds in support of this teaching, in the absence of new sources of income. For the moment, part of this teaching was being supported from other, non-CJS, sources, but its continuation was not assured.
3. Student Support: In the past year, a number of Lionel Black bursaries had been given to MA in Jewish Studies students, and this appeared to have encouraged recruitment. There had been eight new enrolments on the MA last year, which was encouraging (following similar success the previous year); the enrolment this year appeared to represent a dip. It would be necessary to seek a renewal and if possible expansion of the bursary scheme in advance of next year's recruitment. It had not proved possible, for financial reasons, to award a PHD studentship, and new sources for this were also urgently needed.
4. Research grants: Despite the failure of a couple of major bids to the AHRB (one which is currently being revised for resubmission), the Centre had had a successful year in raising support for research activities:
a Pledges of 27.5k had been received so far for the Agunah Research Unit.
b A grant of 18k had been received from the Association of Jewish Refugees, for a project on the reception and contribution of Jewish refugees in Manchester before and after the second world war. This was being directed by Mr Williams, and good progress was being made.
c A contract had recently been signed by the Library with the Friedberg Genizah Project of Canada, under which the latter would provide 35,000 dollars in support of the cataloguing of the Genizah fragments in the Rylands library, provided that matching funding could be raised. This was initially for one year, but it was anticipated that the Project would last for five years, and the Friedberg Genizah Project was willing in principle to continue such support, subject to continuing matching funding and satisfactory progress. It was reported that Mr Joe Dwek had pledged an initial 10,000 dollars towards the matching funding, and was active in assisting us to seeking to raise the rest
d A grant of 1k had been received from the Nathan Laski Trust in support of a project to provide a web site selecting, describing and evaluating internet sources particularly valuable for use by teachers at different levels in Jewish education. Work on this was in progress.
5. Sherman Lectures: Professor Kushner had kindly advanced his series from 2003 to 2002, in the light of Dr. Rosner's indisposition, and had delivered a stimulating series (details on the web site). Dr. Rosner had recently confirmed his availability to give the lectures in 2003; details are on the web site and in the attached yellow leaflet. The lecturer in 2004 would be Professor Daniel Sperber of Bar-Ilan University, on a theme related to custom in Jewish law and history. Professor Menachem Elon, former Deputy-President of the Israel Supreme Court, had also recently agreed to give a series of Sherman Lectures
6. Research Seminars: In the past year, seminars had been given by Hyam Maccoby, Joanna Weinberg, Jonathan Magonet and Max Kohanzad (a current PHD student) and an additional seminar in the occasional rabbinics series had been given by Professor Lawrence Kaplan of McGill University, Canada. The programme for the current year included speakers from Manchester, London and San Francisco (visiting Oxford): details on the web site and the attached yellow leaflet.
7. Extra-mural activities: Professor Jackson commented that after the success of the first year of the Centre's extra mural programme (in 1998-99), attendances had dropped somewhat and there had been experimentation on different formats in subsequent years, with no very clear pattern emerging. In the past year, Professor Jackson had given a series of four intensive, text-based sessions on Agunah at the Yeshurun synagogue to a small but enthusiastic group; 5 Fellows had presented lectures in Southport on the theme of the history of Jewish identity, under the auspices of the Southport Jewish Representative Council; and there had been a Day-School on June 9th at the Rylands Library (Deansgate) on "Jewish Heritage at the Rylands". This last had been particularly successful, attracting approximately 70 participants, and appeared to have been very much appreciated. See the web site for a detailed report. It had been notable for the participation of Professor Stefan Reif (of Cambridge), and for the announcement by the Vice-Chancellor of the agreement with the Friedberg Genizah Project (4c, above).
8. Web site: Dr Langton reported, in response to a question posed at last year's meeting, that statistics were now available for "hits" on the Centre's web site (www.mucjs.org), and its component pages. The site as a whole currently attracts about 14,000 hits per month; it has been accessed from 42 countries. The most popular areas of the site include the "Manchester and Zionism" exhibition, the surveys of Jewish and Holocaust Studies in the UK (part of the BAJS pages, which the Centre hosts), and articles such as that by Professor Maccoby on rabbinic argument (the text of his research seminar last year). Recently added features of the site include details of the Genizah Manuscripts Project, of the Agunah Research Unit, and a beautifully illustrated omer counter with paintings by Pauline Frankenberg. The Centre also hosts the sites of the Jewish Law Association and the Jewish Built Heritage Research Project (both closely associated with the research of Fellows of the Centre). The site also fulfils a valuable promotional role in relation to the Jewish Studies courses, undergraduate and postgraduate, at Manchester. Dr Langton distributed a flyer listing some of the principal features of the site (attached hereto).
9. Finances: Professor Jackson stressed that new sources of income were urgently required. The success of the Centre recently had been in relation to specific research projects, but support for the continuing teaching infrastructure, in the form of teaching fellowships and student bursaries, was urgently required. The Centre had survived for much of the past year without secretarial assistance, the burden being carried largely by Dr Langton and Professor Jackson with occasional student help. Approaches for new sources of funding were currently being made, though the outcome could not be assured.
10. Co-Directors: The Constitution provided for an initial five-year term, from 1st September 1997, for the Co-Directors, renewable for a period of three years. Such renewal was in the hands of a Faculty Appointments Committee, which had not as yet been convened.
11. AOB: Professor Jackson indicated that assurances had been sought from the University, in the wake of the Mona Baker affair and the projected transfer of Professor Baker's Unit to the School of Linguistics of the University of Manchester, relating to possible discriminatory policies. A reply been received from the Registrar and Secretary of the University, in the following terms: "May I say quite unequivocally that the University stands firmly by its Charter obligation not to impose any religious, racial or political test on any person. That obligation applies to the University and all its constitute parts." In this context, there was discussion of the current absence from the University teaching staff of expertise in Modern Hebrew Literature and Israeli Studies (History, Sociology, Politics) and the desirability of establishing such. It was noted that this would complement the current work of the Department of Middle Eastern Studies, the Head of which had in the past expressed support for such a post.
A report was given by Dr Langton on the establishment of a Centre library, based on a generous deposit of books by Mr Williams, and with further material from other sources (Jackson's Row and Menorah Synagogues, the estate of Rabbi J. Weinberg, Noam Livne, and Geoff Price). A start had been made with regards to cataloguing, thanks to the generosity of Joy Wolfe, though further funding for this would be required to complete the work. The library complemented the holdings of the Rylands particularly in areas of modern Jewish history, and would prove a valuable teaching resource. It was a reference library, the books not being available for borrowing. It was open for consultation when staffed (it is housed in the Centre's office, which is also the office of Mr Williams). In this context, Professor Jackson reported also on an offer just received from Dr. Noah Lucas of Oxford, to dispose of his collection of books on modern Israel (600 in English, 200 in Hebrew), but indicated that outside support would be necessary to effect such a purchase.