Annual Report 2004-2005
1. Staffing: There have been two significant developments in 2004-05 (a) the University accepted a case to make permanent the post of Dr. Daniel Langton, previously a fixed term appointment supported in part by the Centre; (b) an appointment, Dr. Oren Soffer, was made to the externally funded three-year Lectureship on Israeli Studies (see item 10 of the 2003-04 Annual Report), and Dr. Soffer took up his position in September 2005.
2. Part-time Teaching Support: Support for part-time teaching (by Dr Unterman and Dr. Kadish), was provided from Faculty Teaching Replacement money, in relation to Professor Alexander's secondment as Associate Dean (Research). A range of additional part-time courses, to be supported from the residue of the TRM and thereafter by the Centre, were approved and are currently on offer (subject to enrolments)
BA2: Dr. Elliott Cohen, 'Hybrid Identity' in Jewish-Christianity and Jewish-Buddhism
BA3/MA Dr. Reuven Silverman, Modern Jewish Thought
MA: Dr. Renate Smithuis, Maimonides: Between the Jewish and Muslim Worlds
MA: Dr. Sharman Kadish, The “Jewish Question” in Modern Europe (this replacing her present BA2: “Jews in Europe” course)
3. Student Numbers:
While the numbers enrolled on specifically Jewish Studies undergraduate degree programmes remain small, substantial numbers of students take one or more Jewish Studies modules, particularly Introduction to Judaism, Holocaust Theology, Jewish Liturgy and Religious Practice, History of Jewish-Christian Relations, and classes in Modern Hebrew at various levels. These currently amount to more than 320 student modules. A number of new modules are being introduced in 05-06, including those taught by the newly arrived Lecturer in Israeli Studies. MA recruitment is disappointing and measures are being considered to address this, while PhD numbers are extremely healthy, and threaten to exceed staff supervisory capacity.
4. Student Support:
a Lionel Black bursaries (MA): Two Lionel Black bursaries were awarded for 04/05, one to a Spanish student, the other to a local student. The downward trend in enrolment for the MA is a matter for concern; the level of the bursary is still not proving a real incentive, and a decision has been made to offer one award of £5k plus several of £500.00 for the 2006 entry: see http://www.mucjs.org/bursaries.htm .
b PhD support: Support was provided for first year PhD fees for a Polish student in 04/05; the Agunah Research Unit made its first PhD studentship appointment wef Jan 04 and obtained Leverhulme funding to support a further student from 05-06.
c A dinner was held on 30th June at the Pagoda Restaurant to celebrate the completion of 7 PhDs in Jewish Studies (the majority in various aspects of Rabbinics). The students were joined by a substantial number of Fellows and their spouses.
5. Major Research Projects: (for further information, see their respective web pages)
a Agunah Research Unit : This was the first full year of the Unit's operation: An application to the Leverhulme Foundation for £152k was successful and will (i) extend the present Research Fellowship (Rabbi Dr Abel), (ii) provide funds for the appointment of a further full-time member of staff for 18 months (or equivalent part-time); (iii) fund a second PhD studentship, for which an appointment has been made (Nechama Hadari) commencing in January 2006. Various aspects of the research agenda detailed in the Leverhulme application ( www.mucjs.org/LeverhulmeProject.pdf ) are already being pursued, and a research paper on the 20th century debate regarding the use of terminative conditions has been completed by Rabbi D. Abel, undertaken with pre-Leverhulme funding provided by the Hanadiv Foundation, and will appear shortly on the unit's web site: http://www.mucjs.org/agunahunit.htm . Israeli Visitors to the Unit during the year included Dr Diana Villa and Advocate Sharon Shenhav, both of whom had long and useful discussions with members of the research team.
b AJR Project on the Experiences of Refugees in the Manchester region, 1933-1945 ( http://www.mucjs.org/res.htm - ajr ): This is a three year project, two and a half of them funded by the Association for Jewish Refugees in London, which will lead to the production of a book written by Bill Williams. A further grant of 5k was awarded by the Hanadiv Trust and will be used to generate a "Directory of Source Materials in the Manchester Region Relevant to the Study of Refugees of the Nazi Era". The number of interviews has increased to around 80. New emphases have developed over the last year which reflect a growing interest in attitudes towards Fascism. This has led to the inclusion of the story of 4000 Basque children who were evacuated to Britain in 1937; an analysis of the variety of ways in which refugees from Fascism were received in Manchester (including short biographical studies of those who were supportive in an individual capacity); and a treatment of exiles' attempts towards the end of the War to shape the politics of their home countries.
c Genizah Cataloguing Project ( http://www.mucjs.org/jhrylands.htm ): The pilot digitisation project, covering 214 images of fragments relating to around 100 class-marks, has now been completed and the results can be viewed by visiting http://www.library.manchester.ac.uk/imagecollections. The Luna Imaging System used for this pilot project has, in general, been chosen as the basis for our searchable online catalogue. We are setting up this catalogue with a view to adding later images of all our fragments to the catalogue descriptions. We are currently seeking funding in order to make this ambitious extension of the Project possible. With the electronic database in place, we are now able to provide the Friedberg Foundation with electronic records in a number of formats (incl. Access).
Over the last year, significant progress has been made with the description of Rylands Genizah fragments. By the beginning of October 2005, systematic descriptions (mostly in the form of Word documents) of the complete A series (1921 fragments) have been produced, as well as about a fifth of the 8738 fragments of the B series and a sample of about 20 of the 292 fragments of the L series. In March 2005, we have started to transfer this information to the Luna database, which by the end of October has resulted in the creation of around 4,600 electronic records. Because we are creating separate records for each side of the fragment, and a class-mark can contain more than one fragment, these records represent ca. 2,000 fragments (i.e. class-marks), of which the records relating to ca. 1,200 fragments have been edited and are thus in principle ready for use.
Ben Outhwaite has recently discovered in Cambridge the upper part of a folio of which we possess the lower part in the form of two joining fragments (B 2597 & B 4094). They represent a page from one of Maimonides' famous autograph versions of his Guide of the Perplexed. The April 2005 issue of the Newsletter of the Taylor-Schechter Research Unit (see http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/Taylor-Schechter/GF) contains a short report of his exciting discovery.
d Survey of the Jewish Built Heritage ( http://www.jewish-heritage-uk.org/ ): Work commenced in November 2004 on 'Resource Enhancement' funded by a grant (£315,876) from the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The Survey was initiated in 1997 under the auspices of the Jewish Memorial Council, with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and English Heritage and was first linked with the University of Manchester thanks to a British Academy grant (£19,400) in 2003. Project Director is Dr Sharman Kadish who is also Director of Jewish Heritage UK, set up in 2004, with the support of Hanadiv Charitable Foundation, to care for the Jewish communitiy's historic buildings, sites and collections. A series of publications is planned: Jewish Heritage in England: An Architectural Guide will be published by English Heritage in 2006 to mark the 350th anniversary of the Resettlement of the Jews in England; plus a parallel guidebook to Jewish Heritage in Gibraltar resulting from fieldwork carried out in the spring of 2005; finally, a little further off, a major book on the history of synagogue architecture in Britain with original drawings by Survey Architect Barbara Bowman and full-colour photographs by English Heritage.
6. Sherman Lectures: A successful series was delivered in 2005 by Professor Barry Kosmin of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, on "Rethinking the Jewish World for the 21st century" (for details, see http://www.mucjs.org/sherman05.htm ). The 2006 lecturer will be Dr. Ada Rapaport-Albert on “Men and Women in Jewish Mysticism” (March 26th-30th 2006): see http://www.mucjs.org/sherman06.htm .
7. Research Seminars and Guest Lectures: Seminars were given by Dr. Estee Dvorjetski, Dept. of Archaeology, University of Haifa, on “Christians at the Thermo-Mineral Baths in Roman-Byzantine Palestine”; Dr. Shlomo Sela, Bar-Ilan University, on “Secularisation of the “Holy Tongue” and the Development of “Medieval Hebrew Science”: Different Twelfth-Century Approaches”; Prof. Giacomo Todeschini, Dipartimento di Storia, Universtità di Trieste:, on “Trustfulness and avarice as economic-religious elements of the Christian infamia facti vocabulary”; and Prof. Benjamin Hary, Emory University, on “The Languages of the Jews: Some Preliminary Thoughts”. A special rabbinics seminar was given by by Advocate Sharon Shenhav, of Israel, on her experience on a Knesset committee appointing dayanim , and related developments concerning agunot in Israel. A change of frequency and format has been arranged for 2005-06: the Centre will now have its own fortnightly series of seminars on Thursdays at 4.00 p.m., running through the teaching year. More use will be made of local resources, including postgraduate students in various areas of Jewish Studies, but with a continuing leavening of distinguished visitors. For details, see http://www.mucjs.org/rs06.htm . The initial response to this series has been good.
8. Extra-mural activities:
a A one-day conference showcasing the Centre's four major research projects was held on Sunday June 19th, attracted a substantial community audience, and was well appreciated. For details, see http://www.mucjs.org/researchday05.htm .
b CCE courses: Dr. Sharman Kadish's course on Jewish Art and Architecture Through the Ages in the current semester was cancelled because of the low level of advance registrations. Frank Adam's series on A History of the Arab-Israeli Conflict in Semester 2 went ahead ( http://www.mucjs.org/cec04.htm ), and is to be repeated this year. For the 2005-06 programme, see http://www.mucjs.org/cec05.htm .
c AIAS: Occasional lectures continue to be organised in conjunction with the Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society, generously supported by Mr. Joe Dwek, and the Balfour Trust
9. Web site:
a Funding has been received for a modest expansion of the "Nathan Laski Internet Resource Centre" (http://www.mucjs.org/laski/home.htm ), prepared with funding from the Nathan Laski Charitable Trust, but progress has been slow because of pressure of other work.
b The major revision of the Centre's web site, indicated in last year's report, is proceeding only slowly. Emphasis has been placed on not losing the present functionality while structural changes, associated with the new university site, are still in process.
10. Finances: The position remains much as last year. 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 lacks secretarial assistance, the burden being carried largely by Dr Langton and Professor Jackson with occasional student help. The initiation of a new Friends organisation had been planned for November 3rd, with Mr. Howard Jacobson speaking, but the late notification of a clash with the AGM of the Fed has caused this to be postponed and replanned. Various uncertainties which existed at the time of the merger regarding the Centre's finances have now largely been resolved, and it should prove possible shortly to budget an increasing sum for postgraduate support.
11. Library Matters:
a The final stages of cataloguing of the Centre library (based on Bill Williams' collection) and assigning shelf marks have proceeded slowly, owing to difficulty in recruiting suitable student assistance. A new recruit has now been found, and it is hoped to announce access arrangements before too long.
b Israel Studies Library: The agreement to purchase the Israel Studies library of Dr Noah Lucas of Oxford (c.600 items), in conjunction with the creation of the new Israel Studies Lectureship, was implemented.