Pro­fes­sor Ron­ald Franken­berg

The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE - ADAM FRANKEN­BERG

BORN OC­TO­BER 20, 1929. DIED NEW­CAS­TLE-UN­DER-LYME, NOVEM­BER 20, 2015, AGED 86

NO LOVER of teach­ers, whether at Lim­mud or as ser­mon­givers in syn­a­gogue, Pro­fes­sor Ron­ald Franken­berg dis­liked any ap­proach based on the con­cep­tion that the tu­tor had all the an­swers prior to the start of the teach­ing ses­sion. Nor did he like pre­sen­ta­tions based on step-by-step rev­e­la­tions lead­ing to their pre­de­ter­mined con­clu­sions.

In his view, hav­ing all the an­swers in ad­vance of an ed­u­ca­tional sit­u­a­tion pre­vented stu­dents from lis­ten­ing to and learn­ing from one an­other. He felt that ap­proach in­hib­ited the chance of learn­ing from wider ex­pe­ri­ences and risked not con­nect­ing with the real con­cerns of par­tic­i­pants, who might then be re­duced to a mere au­di­ence, un­able to con­nect.

This con­vic­tion led Franken­berg to pro­mote the work­shop sem­i­nar

Pro­fes­sor Ron­ald Franken­berg: an­thro­pol­o­gist seek­ing gen­der equal­ity sys­tem at Keele Univer­sity, where stu­dents and lec­tur­ers jointly thrashed out the cur­ricu­lum so that the par­tic­i­pants ar­rived at un­der­stand­ings they would never have gained work­ing alone. And this is why, af­ter his first two books were pub­lished — Vil­lage on the Bor­der (1957) and Com­mu­ni­ties in Bri­tain (1969) — Franken­berg’s ex­ten­sive writ­ings took the form of edi­to­rial ser­vices, or pa­pers which con­trib­uted to col­lab­o­ra­tive pub­li­ca­tions.

De­spite his play­ful style of in­ter­ac­tion Franken­berg dis­liked lack of sin­cer­ity. Seek­ing truth mat­tered, as it did to the Com­mu­nists, Jews, Catholics, women and those con­sid­ered out­siders with whom he en­gaged. He stressed the need for gen­der equal­ity.

Franken­berg was ap­proach­able and avail­able for those stu­dents, col­leagues and vis­i­tors who sought him out. Like the nov­el­ist El­iz­a­beth Gaskell who kept her door open to all chil­dren and vis­i­tors who called upon her time –– he was ready to re­ceive and learn from all en­coun­ters. For an an­thro­pol­o­gist seeped in Ju­daism there are no in­ter­rup­tions to real work, be­cause ev­ery en­counter is gist to the mill.

As well as teach­ing for most of his ca­reer at Keele Univer­sity, Franken­berg also taught at Brunel Univer­sity. He held vis­it­ing pro­fes­sor­ships at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia at Berke­ley and in Italy.

He was mar­ried three times: to Ali- son Sher­ratt in 1953 ,with whom he had two daugh­ters, Ruth, also an an­thro­pol­o­gist who died in 2007, and RoseAnna. In 1964 he mar­ried Joyce Lee­son and had a daugh­ter, He­len. In 1977 he mar­ried Pauline Hunt with whom he lived un­til his death; they had two chil­dren, Adam and Re­becca.

Ju­daism al­ways played a ma­jor role in Franken­berg’s life. His father Louis was a busi­ness­man, and his wife Sarah, née Zaions, was in­volved with her fam­ily in the Yid­dish theatre in Lon­don. Ed­u­cated at High­gate School, he went to Cam­bridge where he worked with the Jewish So­ci­ety as trea­surer and sec­re­tary as well as serv­ing on the chevrah kad­disha of the lo­cal com­mu­nity. Be­fore that he had been in­volved with the Jewish Cir­cle so­ci­ety at High­gate.

For 25 years of his life Franken­berg was an ac­tive mem­ber of Meno­rah Syn­a­gogue in Manch­ester.

He is sur­vived by his wife Pauline and his chil­dren Rose Anna, He­len, Adam and Re­becca.

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