Two pleasurable duties incumbent on an incoming president of a society such as ours are to pay tribute to one’s predecessor, and to give some sort of explanation or justification of one’s own particular role. Firstly, therefore, in Dr Stefan Reif the Society has had a president who has served it very well indeed. He is a scholar of the first order, an expositor of his subject second to none, and an administrator of the highest level. In all of these he has graced the Society and has pointed it in the directions he feels we ought to be going if we are to survive for a further hundred years. His work as head of the Geniza Unit of Cambridge University Library is exemplary, showing that it is not sufficient merely to be aware of the academic importance of one’s subject, but essential also to raise public awareness of scholarly activities, and in consequence how vital is the ability to raise a substan- tial part of the money required to keep them afloat. It is indeed a commentary on our times that scholars have to be not merely at the top of their profession in purely scholastic terms, but fully aware of the funding required for the work they are doing. We no longer live in ivory towers - even if we ever did so - and Stefan Reif is an outstanding example of our needs to excel in both of these worlds.
The second part of my task, to explain why I am here, is more difficult, for to tell the truth I should not be here at all. Some years ago the Society decided that the centenary of its foundation should be marked in some suitable manner, and one of the ways in which we are doing this, in conjunction with the Institute of Jewish Studies at UCL, is to sponsor an international conference to which have been invited not only a large number of scholars with international reputations but also, and indeed most importantly, the members of the society as well as the public at large. The subject of this conference is the migration of Jews out of Europe between 18 50 and 1914, and the impact this migration has had on Jewry as a whole. Study such as this is vital for our understanding of world Jewry, and is entirely appropriate to our centenary year.
The other decision taken by the Society was to invite one of its past presidents to take office again in its centenary year. There is ample and indeed good preced- ent for this, in that when the Society celebrated its fiftieth and seventy-fifth anniversaries it elected on both occasions one of its former presidents, Cecil Roth. I should perhaps point out that the Society could not follow the example exactly, since Cecil at the seventy-fifth anniversary remarked that this was now the ninth Presidential Address delivered to the Society on 29 October 1992. time he had served as president. The only other president