Those familiar with Jewish Historical Studies : Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England - commonly known as Transactions - will notice that this issue is different from those preceding it. The opening page lists an editor, myself, a contributing editor, Jeremy Schonfield, and an Inaugural Editorial Board. This might seem quite ordinary. But it represents a depar- ture from the way Transactions has operated in the past - a change signalling both a new beginning and a commitment to sustain and nurture the Jewish Historical Society of England (JHSE), founded in 1893, and its organ, Transactions , which first appeared in 1893-4.
Of course the novelty of a named editor and editorial board on the mast- head does not mean that earlier issues were "unedited". The list of "Society officers and council", typically at the back of Transactions , includes an "Editor of Publications". Jeremy Schonfield has served this role, splendidly, for thirty years, and is instrumental in the transition of Transactions to its new phase. Katharine Ridler assisted him in copy-editing this volume as she has previ- ously. Edgar Samuel, to whom the current Transactions is dedicated, was a dedicated Chairman of Publications for many years. In fact, a distinguishing feature of Transactions , since its inception, has been the meticulousness of the editing process and overall quality of the publication. This is a chief reason why members of the Society enjoyed and were honoured to be published in Transactions. The earlier policy was to collect lectures that had recently been presented to meetings of the Society, including the annual address of the President of th eJHSE, and to present research by members and others that had not necessarily been delivered in the lecture programme. Transactions will continue to publish versions of selected lectures heard at the Society, the presidential address and research reports by its members.
But a significant portion of Transactions , beginning with this issue, is dif- ferent: articles not specified as having been presented to the JHSE, or appear- ing in the section for members' research, have been subject to a double-blind peer-review process. That is, following standard academic practice, they have been reviewed by at least two scholars in the field. Why this change? Before I was invited to the position as "Editor of Publications" it was apparent to a number of JfHSE members that some kind of shift might be good, possibly essential, for the long-term health of Transactions. The type of "gentleman scholar" who typically contributed to Transactions has not disappeared, but the cohort is no longer plentiful and robust. Perhaps more important: there are indications that the current core of the Society does not have a succeeding generation in the wings to continue the work of the JfHSE. As opposed to those who mainly have a livelihood outside of academe and pursue research "on the side", it appears that most historical researchers of Jews in the English-speaking world are beholden to academic institutions - museums, libraries and universities. For professional and