Annual Report 2002-2003
Time and date: 1pm on Wed 17 Sept.
Venue: A113 of the Arts Building
1 Reappointment of Fellows: The current terms of a substantial number of Honorary Research Fellows came to an end, clause 6 of the Constitution, at the end of 02/03, and procedures have been initiated for applications for renewal.
2. Teaching Support: Dr Unterman had undertaken an additional course, which the Centre supported. Support for other teaching, full-time (Dr. Langton) and part-time (Dr Unterman and Dr. Kadish), was provided from Faculty Teaching Replacement money, in relation to Professor Alexander's current secondment as Associate Dean (Research). An application to the JNF for support for a teaching position in modern Israeli Studies (Literature, Politics and Society), though promoted and supported by the Israel Embassy, failed. A 2-year extension of Dr. Langton's current contract was secured, underwritten in part by funds from the CJS, and pending acceptance of a School "Investment Plan" under which his post would be made permanent.
3. Student Support: One Lionel Black bursary was taken up (by a Canadian student), while the second (to a Kenyan student) was carried forward. There was a slight drop in recruitment to the MA; a new poster was produced to encourage interest. A three year renewal and expansion of the bursary scheme to 5k p.a. was secured from the Black family. It was agreed to reinstate a modest PhD studentship, tied to applications for AHRB awards. A postgraduate studentship worth over 30k over three years was advertised at the end of the year, for a PhD in the Agunah Research Unit. Notwithstanding the difficulties in funding, a review of the current range of PhD students in Jewish Studies revealed an increase to 32, representing a wide range of topics (for a list, see www.mucjs.org/research.htm).
4. Research grants: A revised major research bid was made to the AHRB in relation to the nature of rabbinic legal rationality in the Mishnah, in the light of a comparison with selected non-talmudic legal texts (Prof. Alexander, Prof. Brooke, Prof. Jackson, Dr. Samely). The Centre built on its success the previous year in raising support for and implementing research activities:
a Pledges for the Agunah Research Unit now total 33.5k, and a first PhD studentship has been advertised.
b Work continued on the Association of Jewish Refugees project, with more oral history material becoming available, and applications for further funding being prepared.
c Funding to match that of the Friedberg Genizah Project was secured from the Edmund J. Safra Foundation, largely through the good offices of Mr Joe Dwek, enabling the creation of a three-year appointment of a cataloguer, who will commence work in October 2003.
d Work on the project to provide a web site selecting, describing and evaluating internet sources particularly valuable for use by teachers at different levels in Jewish education, supported by the Nathan Laski Trust, made substantial progress and completion is envisaged in the course of this year.
e A grant of £500.00 was received from the Kessler Foundation in support of cataloguing of the Centre Library.
f Dr Samely obtained a grant from the Leverhulme Trust to support teaching replacement during a sabbatical year, in which he will pursue research on basic features of rabbinic thought.
h Dr Kadish has been awarded £19,400 by the British Academy in support of her "Survey of the Jewish Built Environment Image Library"
5. Sherman Lectures: Dr. Rosner was able to deliver his Sherman Lectures on Jewish Bioethics, and attracted a substantial and enthusiastic audience. He also gave a Community Lecture and a stimulating feedback session in the context of Prof. Jackson's Jewish law class. The lecturer in 2004 will be Professor Daniel Sperber of Bar-Ilan University, on "The Modern Study of the Halakhah". It is hoped to make an announcement regarding the 2005 lecturer in 2005.
6. Research Seminars and Guest Lectures: Seminars were given by Yaron Mattras (Linguistics, Manchester), Cathy Gelbin (German, Manchester), and Jonathan Milgram (London School of Jewish Studies). A fourth seminar, by Prof. Fred Astren (San Francisco State University), had to be cancelled because of the speaker's indisposition. A guest lecture by Prof. Emmanuel Sivan, of the Hebrew University, was given on "Islamic Conceptions of the Sanctity of Jerusalem".
7. Extra-mural activities: Plans for a summer one-day seminar on the Chief Rabbi's "Clash of Civilisations" essay, organised along the same lines as the successful "Jewish Heritage at the Rylands" day School of June 2002, were abandoned when the Chief Rabbi proved unable to participate. Instead, a series of rabbinics seminars studying his text, each led by a Fellow of the Centre, is being organised for October-November 2003. A new feature of the Centre's programme in 02/03 was the initiation of a series of lectures in conjunction with the Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society. Two lectures were held during the year, delivered by Sam Moorhead and Ehud Netzer. Courses on Russian Jewry since 1801 and the Historical Roots of the Israeli State and its Political Philosophy have been arranged for the coming year, under the auspices of the Centre for Continuing Education.
8. Web site: Statistics for "hits" on the Centre's web site (www.mucjs.org) and its component pages were available only for the first half of the year, but the indications are that the visibility of the site continues to grow as other sites create links to it. The most recent stats show it attracts about 21,000 page requests per month (up from an average of 14,000 last year); it has been accessed from around 40 countries. The most popular areas of the site include the "Manchester and Zionism" exhibition (2300 page requests per month), the surveys of Jewish and Holocaust Studies in the UK (part of the BAJS pages, which the Centre hosts), the CJS index of links pages (which bodes well for the Laski Internet Resource website), and Sharman Kadish's Jewish Heritage website (1130 page requests per month). The site fulfils a valuable promotional role in relation to the Jewish Studies courses, undergraduate and postgraduate, at Manchester. Recently added features of the site include details of the Teltscher Library Collection and a new page "Study in the UK" which is designed to attract US and European visiting students (around 120 webpage requests 120 per month).
9. Finances: New sources of income remain urgently required. The success of the Centre recently has been in relation to specific research projects, but support for the continuing teaching infrastructure, in the form of teaching fellowships and student bursaries, is urgently required. The Centre 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 continue to be made, though thus far without substantial success. It is hoped this coming year to initiate a new Friends organisation, and Mr. J. Ferster has kindly contributed £600.00 to the initial publicity costs.
10. Reappointment of Co-Directors: Professors Alexander and Jackson having come to the end of their initial 5-year tenures, the Dean reappointed them for a further three years, in accordance with clause 4 of the Constitution.
11. Library Matters: As reported last year, a Centre library has been established, based on a generous deposit of books by Mr Williams, and with further material from other sources. Cataloguing has made progress, thanks to the generosity of Joy Wolfe and more recently the Kessler Foundation. The library complements the holdings of the Rylands particularly in areas of modern Jewish history, and will prove a valuable teaching resource. It is a reference library, the books not being available for borrowing. It is open for consultation when staffed (it is housed in the Centre's office, which is also the office of Mr Williams).
The John Rylands Library completed the cataloguing of the Teltscher Archive, recently acquired on long-term loan through the good offices of the Centre. The collection ....; a list may be found now at ....
12. "Project Unity": Rapid progress was made in the course of 02/03 towards the merger of the Victoria University of Manchester (our official title) and UMIST, into a new University of Manchester as from October 2004. This involves the creation of new Faculties and Schools within them. The Planning Committee of the CJS has expressed concern that this may well result in the current Departments of Religion and Theology (including Messrs. Alexander, Brooke, Curtis, Jackson, Kadish, Langton, Unterman and Williams) and Middle Eastern Studies (including Messrs. Healey, Garside and Samely) finding themselves in separate Schools. The Planning Committee passed the following resolution at its July 2003 meeting: "The Planning Committee of the Centre for Jewish Studies, conscious of its role in student recruitment, course development, income generation and outreach, as well as its success in cross-departmental research promotion, opposes any departmental reconfiguration which would make collaboration between members in R&T and MES more difficult, and favours a solution which would recognise and facilitate the further development of Jewish Studies within the University." The problem has not yet been resolved.