Preface

Articles Image

By way of introduction to Volume 45 of Jewish Historical Studies: Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England, I wish to recall the history of the early Zionist movement in the late nineteenth century. It is widely known that the Zionist Congress, held in Basle in the summer of 1897,was monumental. The event effectively launched Theodor Herzl's fledgling movement on the world political stage. It was the first effort, in modern times, to mobilize all of world-Jewry with the intention of ameliorating the condition of Jews overall. What is much less known, however, is that the second Zionist Congress, of 1898, also held in Basle, was perhaps an even more astounding achievement. Why? Because Herzl and his followers demonstrated that the meeting of the previous year was not a fluke. The movement had been and could be sustained, which was not a foregone conclusion in 1897.

How does this brief aside relate to the contemporary Jewish Historical Society of England (JHSE) and the journal before you? On 28 August 2013, the JHSE held a conference at University College London (ucl) in order to mark its 120th anniversary. This one-day event featured eminent speakers including Miri Rubin (Queen Mary, University of London), Eliot Horowitz (Bar Ilan University), Philip Alexander (Manchester University), Anthony Grafton (Princeton University), David Rechter (Oxford University), Daniel Snowman (the BBC) and David Mazower (the BBC). The lectures were superb - as one might expect. Beyond this, however, each presenter deftly engaged the Society and the larger community - as represented by the huge and enthusiastic turnout, and the audience's animated exchanges with the speak ers. Thanks are due in great part to Piet van Boxel, President of the Society, for coordinating the conference, along with David Jacobs, Ann Ebner, Sheila Lassman, Alan Swarc, Raphe Langham and others. It is remarkable that the Jewish Historical Society of England has proven its longevity, and further more noteworthy that its next century and score {me'ah ve'esrim) is well under way.

]Such an event could not have taken place without a profound restructuring of the Society as was undertaken by the group mentioned above, and the JHSE in total, before Piet was invited to assume the Presidency. With far-sighted and courageous leadership, a portion of the material assets of the Society - some of the "family silver" held in storage, was auctioned in New York. Although the sale did not, in a direct sense, fund the conference, it gave the Society confidence to pursue an ambitious event to mark its anniversary. Such a hearty commitment to the conference also meant that all participants and attendees were well-treated to refreshments and a catered reception, which added to the festivities and collégial spirit.

In addition to the lectures, Piet arranged an exhibition of precious items from the Moses Montefiore collection of the Oxford Sebag-Montefiore Archive (Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, Leopold Muller Memorial Library), held in the UCL Art Museum concurrent with the con ference. Many, if not most, of the attendees (and others)

Become a member to read the full article
Become a member today

£7

24 hour access to JHSE online resources

Instant access to over 700 articles View the original articles as a PDF
Learn More

£40

Annual JHSE Membership

Members are entitled to a free copy of the latest Jewish Historical Studies, free access to our online resources and associate membership of the UCL Library in London.  In addition, they receive the JHSE Newsletter, special offers on books for sale and pay less to attend our series of lectures and other public events.
Learn More

£20

Student Membership

The JHSE want to encourage students to engage with Jewish history.  Apply for a Student Membership with your university email account and once we have verified your status you will soon have all the benefits of being a full JHSE member.
Learn More

£80

Associate your Institution with the JHSE

Give your members access to JHSE online resources and special offers on book sales.  Use your institutional email account when applying, and once your status is verified we will explain the scheme.  Preferred payment is by credit or debit card.
Learn More
0

Your Cart