Annual Report 2005-2006
1.1 Prof. Philip Alexander has been elected a Fellow of the British Academy, Dr. Alex Samely promoted to the rank of Professor and Dr Daniel Langton awarded one of four University £5,000 prizes for Teaching Excellence, which he intends to devote to pump priming work in relation to the preparation of a distance learning module.
1.2 Dr. Oren Soffer has resigned his Lectureship in Israeli Studies and returned to Israel, largely because of family illness. It was hoped, with the agreement of the sponsors, to readvertise the post shortly, but an appointment by the beginning of the next academic year appears unlikely.
1.3 Bill Williams has announced his retirement from teaching. Dr. Irene Lancaster has resigned her Honorary Research Fellowship, on moving to Israel.
1.4 In the light Daniel Langton's research leave in 2006-07, and his departmental administrative commitments since his post was established, a post of part-time Coordinator of the Centre, to work two days per week, associated with a PhD studentship, has been created. The first holder of the post is Penelope Junkermann, who took up her appointment on 1st September 2006.
2. Student Numbers and curriculum Development
2.1 Undergraduate numbers: Some 342 undergraduates were recorded, in 2005-06, as having taken at least one course in Jewish Studies.
2.2 Jewish Studies Pathway: the first student (transferring from another degree) graduated on the new Jewish Studies pathway through the Religions and Theology degree, and obtained a first.
2.3 MA: The agreed increase of the Black bursary to 1 x 5k and 6 x £500 (to the first further 6 FT applicants) appeared to have produced an increase in the number of applicants for next year. Further consideration is being given to the respective administrative requirements of (a) separate MAs or (b) pathways through the existing MA in Jewish Studies, though the new MA in Holocaust Studies (2.5 below) will be a separate MA, even if its modules are also open to students on the MA in Jewish Studies (and vice versa). Further development of plans for an MA in Jewish-Christian-Muslim relations are about to commence, now that new appointments is Islamic Studies have been made.
2.4 Enrolment of PhD students continued to be very healthy (40 students at present); there was some doubt as to whether further expansion was possible at the present level of staff resources.
2.5 Holocaust Studies: A new MA course in Holocaust Studies is now ready, the result of collaboration between some 15-16 and staff (including Bill Williams, Daniel Langton and Mike Savage, but mostly from outside the Centre for Jewish Studies), co-ordinated by Dr. Cathy Gelbin in German, in consultation with the Centre. It is already being advertised on the LCC web page (http://www.llc.manchester.ac.uk/PostgraduateStudy/MAProgrammes/MAHolocaustStudies/) with a view to recruiting an entry in 2006. An undergraduate stream in Combined Studies is also in preparation.
3. Sherman Lectures
3.1 The Sherman Lectures 2006, were delivered by Dr. Ada Rapaport-Albert on "Women in Jewish Mysticism" (March 26th-30th 2006), and proved most enjoyable and stimulating, though the attendances were somewhat disappointing, despite what had been considered the topical interest of the themes combined in the lectures and the reputation of the lecturer as a speaker. Consideration is being given to reversion to a post-Pesach date for the lectures, as had been the practice until a few years ago.
3.2 An invitation to give the lectures in 2007 has been accepted by Dr. Gadi Ben-Ezer, of Israel, on Ethiopian Jewry, and an invitation to give the lectures in 2008 has been accepted by Prof. Melissa Raphael, of the University of Gloucestershire.
4. Research Seminars
This year's programme of Jewish Studies seminars, expanded to a programme 13 seminars, proved a success. It had included staff (full-time and part-time), postgraduate students and visiting lecturers. The list of seminars is appended to this report.
5.1 Rylands Geniza Manuscripts
Expectations are that by October 2006, the Project, directed by Philip Alexander and implemented largely by Renate Smithuis, will have catalogued the first 5,000 fragments of the Rylands Geniza collection (i.e. the complete A series, the B series up to B 5000, and about 20 fragments of the L series). The process of transferring the initial Word descriptions to the electronic database is ongoing, as is further editorial work.
The AHRC has recently awarded the University a grant of £361,000 for the extension of the present research project for another three years, commencing in October 2006. This will enable the project to expand from describing and cataloguing the fragments to digitisation of the collection, thus making them available worldwide through the internet and facilitating global interaction between researchers. The new grant will facilitate the appointment of additional staff, especially a part-time photographer and one or more assistants for clerical work related to the digitisation and cataloguing work.
5.2 Jewish Built Heritage
Funded under the AHRC ‘Resource Enhancement Scheme’, this past year has been concentrated on the preparation of the following publications:
• Jewish Heritage in England: An Architectural Guide: Text by Sharman Kadish, Drawings by Barbara Bowman, Photography by English Heritage. This guidebook is due to be published by English Heritage in September 2006 to coincide with the 350th Anniversary of the Resettlement of the Jewish community in England (1656-2006). The volume includes 14 maps, including Heritage Trails which were tested out on the ground during the summer of 2005.
• Jewish Heritage in Gibraltar: An Architectural Guide. Text by Sharman Kadish, Drawings by Barbara Bowman, Photography by Nigel Corrie [English Heritage] will be published by Spire Books early in 2007. This project has attracted sponsorship from the Government of Gibraltar, Gibraltar Heritage Trust and several local businesses on the Rock.
Meanwhile, work on recording selected post-war synagogues has commenced in preparation for a final, contemporary chapter for Kadish’s monograph The Synagogues of Britain and Ireland: An Architectural History which will be published with the support of the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art at the end of the project.
The Survey image library has been significantly expanded by the addition of new visual material including a collection of rare archive images of lost synagogues discovered in the library of the Jewish Chronicle in London.
For further information about publications and the allied activities of Jewish Heritage UK, see www.jewish-heritage-uk.org
5.3 Jewish Refugees: (http://www.mucjs.org/res.htm#ajr): The research into the experiences and reception of refugees from Nazi Europe in the Manchester region, funded by the Association of Jewish Refugees and the Hanadiv Foundation, is now nearing completion and a book based upon it will exist in draft by the end of this calendar year. The book will focus on the range of influences to which refugees were subject in the Manchester region and the range of attitudes which they evoked in the 'liberal city'. Apart from exploring for the first time refugee experience in a specific region of the country, it will hopefully serve as a challenge both to simplistic readings of refugee 'integration' and to unduly romantic images of British liberalism.
5.4 Agunah Research Unit
The project is now roughly at the halfway stage. A second PhD student commenced work, with a studentship funded by the Leverhulme grant, in January 2006, and there are now good prospects for the recruitment of a second postdoctoral researcher, to work with the existing team for 12 months full-time from January 2007. With the agreement of Leverhulme, 6 months’ of the additional PDRA post has been devoted to upgrading Rabbi Dr Abel to full-time. His work has been devoted to (i) the 20th century debate regarding the use of terminative conditions, now available on the unit’s web site: www.mucjs.org/agunahunit.htm; (ii) analysis of recent publications, including the reform proposals of Morgenstern and the Schechter Institute; (iii) research on the history and halakhic status of doctrines of consensus and hilkheta kebatra’i, and their application to issues of iggun. Further Working Papers reflecting this research will appear shortly on the web site. All four present members of the Unit (Abel, Hadari, Knol and Jackson) attended the Jewish Law Association Conference at Bar-Ilan University in June 2006, where three presented papers. Several Israeli scholars expressed an interest in collaborating with the Unit, but bringing further research staff to Manchester, beyond the second PDRA post mentioned above, will require substantial additional resources.
5.5 Melilah: three new substantial articles (by Rabbi Dr Abel, Bill Williams, and Professor Stephen Passamaneck of Hebrew Union College, Los Angeles: Melilah 2005/1-3) have now appeared on the web site. It was hoped that a further set of articles would appear by the end of the calendar year. Dr. Daniel Langton has been appointed Co-Editor, alongside Prof. Jackson and Dr. Nissan. An approach has been made to Manchester University Press regarding the possible digitisation of the original Hebrew ten volumes.
6.1 CCE courses: The CCE programme in 05-06 included the following: (1) Jeremy Michelson, ‘The History of the Jews in the Middle Ages’, seven Monday evenings at the Jewish Museum, commencing 31 October 2005; (2) Michael Tunnicliffe, ‘Five Hebrew Scrolls (Song of Songs, Ruth, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations and Esther)’, ten Tuesday afternoons on campus beginning in October 2005; (3) Frank Adam: ‘A History of the Arab-Israeli Conflict’, ten Wednesdays at 7.00 -9.00 p.m. commencing 25th January 2006. However, Frank Adam's enrolment reached only 8, the minimum being 12, and the course did not run, despite the reiteration of an offer by the CJS to underwrite the minimum fee income. This has been taken up with the new Acting Director of CCE, who has expressed support for such an arrangement in future. The possibility of providing credits from CCE courses for later MA enrolments will also be pursued.
6.2 Collaboration with AIAS and Balfour: Occasional lectures continue to be organised in conjunction with the Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society, generously supported by Mr. Joe Dwek, and the Balfour Trust.
6.3 Dr. Sharman Kadish has participated in the community’s “350 Committee” organising events under the rubric: "Being Here - Jews in Britain 2006" and has contributed to its programme.
6.4 Future Conference: 2008 will see the BAJS conference coming to Manchester, under the presidency of Philip Alexander, and the biennnial international conference of the Jewish Law Association also coming to Manchester; it is also intended to hold a feedback conference on the work of the Agunah research unit. Philip Alexander, Bernard Jackson and Daniel Langton are seeking to combine the three events in a single major series of conferences, probably in the week commencing 13 July 2008, backed by substantial funding, both internal and external, designed both to attract major names to the conferences and to support the attendance of postgraduate students. A possible single theme spanning the week is being developed.
7.1 CJS library: The Centre library has now been indexed and had shelf numbers assigned thanks to generous donations by the Kessler Foundation (£500.00) and Joy Wolfe (£50.00). This collection of 2229 items comprises mostly modern Anglo-Jewish history and is largely based on Bill Williams' personal research library but also includes materials from local synagogues and personal donations. An electronic index will be made available on the web. After the appointment of the Centre Co-ordinator in September, the library will be open 2 days per week and it will be possible for members of the university and the wider public to use it both for reference and borrowing (for up to one month). An official opening of the library is planned for Thursday 28th September 2006.
7.2 Web site (http://www.mucjs.org/): The major revision of the Centre's web site, indicated in the last two years' reports, continues to proceed slowly. We have not been given an estimated completion date but we have seen and approved the new template which adopts the new University’s corporate branding.
7.3 Laski Internet Resource Centre (http://www.mucjs.org/laski/home.htm): After two tranches of £1000.00 from the Nathan Laski Foundation and several year’s work by students including Charlotte Gringras and Hayley Galvin, the Nathan Laski Internet Resource Centre now offers over 200 entries on websites relevant to Jewish Studies for educators (from primary to post-graduate sectors). Each entry includes a description of the website’s contents including primary and secondary sources, use of multimedia, institutional affiliation, education level, etc. Subject Headings include: Bible and ANE, Hebrew Literature, Holocaust, Israel & Zionism, Jewish-Christian Relations, Jewish Community, Jewish Law, Jewish Studies, Jewish Higher Education Institutions, Jewish History, Judaism Academic, Judaism, Limmude Kodesh, Medico-Legal. Funds allow for further entries to be added.
8.1 Future Budgeting: The uncertainties reported last year have now largely been resolved. it is now possible to resume forward budgeting. The carry-forward to 2006-07 has been determined. The Centre has substantial commitments to part-time teaching, which will form a major part of the budgeted expenditure. This may have to decline in the following financial year, unless a new stream of income can the secured (see 8.2 below). It was agreed that priority should be given to enhancing the expenditure on bursaries.
8.2 Fundraising: 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 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 Federation has this to be postponed and replanned. Meetings regarding fundraising strategy have been held both with community supporters and Chris Cox, the new fundraising director of the university, and members of his staff.
Research Seminars 2005-06
Thurs 6 Oct 2005, 4.00-5.30 p.m.: Harry Lesser, “The use and abuse of the concept of the rodef (“pursuer”) in Jewish law”.
Thurs 20 Oct 2005, 4.00-5.30 p.m.: Eva Frojmovic (Leeds): “Medieval Antisemitism: Painting Jewish tales in medieval Germany”.
Thurs 3 Nov 2005, 4.00-5.30 p.m.: Howard Jacobson (London), “The English Jewish Novel - A Contradiction in Terms”.
Thurs 17 Nov 2005, 4.00-5.30 p.m.: Bill Williams, “The Myth of Rescue? Unaccompanied Child Refugees to Manchester and their Parents, 1938-1945”.
Thurs 1 Dec 2005, 4.00-5.30 p.m.: Daniel Langton, “Ideological Approaches to the History of Jewish-Christian Relations”.
Thurs 15 Dec 2005, 4.00-5.30 p.m.: Roy Shasha, “Lists in the Mishnah”.
Thurs 9 Feb 2006, 4.00-5.30 p.m.: Gertrud Reershemius (Aston): “A world apart? Language and culture in rural Jewish communities in Northwest Germany”.
Thurs 23 Feb 2006, 4.00-5.30 p.m.: Alex Samely, “Are the anonymous voices of rabbinic texts gendered?”.
Thurs 2nd Mar 2006, 4.00-5.30 p.m.: Melissa Raphael (Gloucester), “A Jewish Feminist Approach to Holocaust Theology”.
Thurs 16th Mar 2006, 4.00-5.30 p.m.: Elzbieta Lazarewicz-Wyrzykowska, “M. M. Bakhtin's ethical-aesthetical philosophy as a methodology for ethical reading of the Book of Amos”.
Thurs 30th Mar 2006, 2.00-3.30 p.m.: Sherman Lecturer feedback session (Ada Rapaport-Albert on “Women in Jewish Mysticism”).
Thurs 27th April 2006, 4.00-5.30 p.m.: Alan Unterman, “Aspects of Kabbalistic Use of Divine Names”.
Thurs 11th May 2006, 4.00-5.30 p.m.: Cathy Gelbin, “Jews, the Gothic and the Crisis of Empire”.