'Rethinking the Jewish World for the 21st century'

Professor Barry Kosmin, Executive Director, Institute for Jewish Policy Research

Mon 7 - Thurs 10 March 2005, 5.15pm daily, including a community lecture on Sun 6 March

Venue: Arts Lecture Theatre, in the Humanities Lime Grove Building, University of Manchester (Building 67 on Campus Map)


Community Lecture, Sunday 6 March: 'Triumph, tragedy and transformation: the Jewish experience 1905-2005', Mamlock House, 8.00p.m.

The year 1905 witnessed two events that were to dominate Jewish history for most of the 20thcentury. Both were setbacks that would lead to tragedy. The failure of the 1905 revolution sealed the political fate of Russian Jewry. The British 1905 Aliens Act was the first of many states' restrictions on Jewish migration from Eastern Europe including Britain's later restrictions on migration to Mandatory Palestine.

As a people that is said 'to pray its history' what historical baggage should inform our thinking in the new century? This lecture will provide an assessment of the past century in Jewish history. It will offer insights into the linkages between social and political developments such as the fate of Russian Jewry, the Shoah, the rebirth of Israel and the emergence of robust diaspora communities in the English-speaking world. The lecture will provide background and an overview to the themes to be considered in the academic lectures.


1. Monday 7 March: 'Zachor (Remember): From anti-Semitism to Judeophobia'

The 21st century has opened with a revival of the hostility and prejudice that Jews have long had to face but many thought was over, destroyed by the tragedy of the Shoah and the triumph of Zionism. Is there a new anti-Semitism abroad - where, how and why? What is the relationship of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism? Are there new themes and new enemies? What can the social sciences offer by way of explanation?


2. Tuesday 8 March: 'Kehilla (Community): Jewish identity and continuity'

Jews worldwide are increasingly diverse in terms of their 'beliefs, belonging and behaviours. Recent decades have seen the emergence of new forms of Jewish community and identity and the resurgence of older forms. Why has this happened? What is the relationship between an individual Jew's identity and the formation of communities? This lecture will offer analytical insights from sociology and social psychology to answer these questions.


3. Wednesday 9 March: 'Kibbutz Galuyot (In-gathering of the Exiles): Israel as a multicultural society'

Most media commentary is framed in terms of conflict and political polemic that reveals a deep ignorance of the actual composition of Israeli society and its institutions. The academic debates are dominated by political science and international relations and conflicting versions of history. This lecture will offer an alternative sociological and economic analysis of the realities of contemporary Israeli society and its prospects for the future. It will highlight the transition from messianism to multiculturalism as the leitmotif of Israeli society.

4. Thursday 10 March: 'Masoret (Tradition), Chinuch (Education), Tarbut (Culture): The Jewish cultural renaissance'

One of the most remarkable and unexpected features of Jewish life over the past few decades has been a renewal of all types and forms of Jewish culture. In America, Britain, France, Israel and recently even Russia all forms of Jewish education have flourished - yeshivot, day schools, Limmud type learning, and Jewish academic studies in secular universities. This resurgence has been accompanied by a growing heritage industry that has seen the establishment of new museums and cultural centres. Large numbers and diverse types of Jews have embraced the new media of film, TV, and the internet while supporting new creativity in theatre, music, the visual arts and dance. This lecture will use social science theory and models to try to account for these developments.


Barry Kosmin is currently Executive Director of the JPR/Institute for Jewish Policy Research, London and Associate Director of the AHRB Parkes Centre for Jewish/Non-Jewish Relations at the University of Southampton. Formerly he was Director of the Research Unit of the Board of Deputies of British Jews; Director of Research for the North American Council of Federations, New York; Founding Director of the North American Jewish Data Bank at the City University of New York; Member of the Doctoral Faculty in Sociology at the City University of the New York Graduate School; and Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies, Hebrew University. He is joint editor of the academic journal Patterns of Prejudice and co-editor with Paul Iganski of A New Antisemitism: Debating Judeophobia in 21st Century Britain. Recent co-authored articles include 'The future of Jewish schooling in the United Kingdom', 'Jews of the New South Africa', 'Patterns of Charitable Giving Among British Jews', 'Social Attitudes of Unmarried Young Jews in Contemporary Britain', 'Ethnic and Religious Questions in the 2001 Census of Population', 'North American Conservative Jewish Teenagers' Attachment to Israel', 'The Attachment of British Jews to Israel'.