The Jewish Chronicle

Sussex setting up Jewish studies institute with German support


THE UNIVERSITY of Sussex is launching a new Jewish studies institute with the aim of attracting prominent scholars from a variety of discipline­s and promoting research of the Jewish experience in a broader context.

It will be known as the Sussex Weidenfeld Institute of Jewish Studies, backed by the family of the late Lord Weidenfeld, a keen supporter of the university.

Sussex’s Centre for German-Jewish Studies, establishe­d in 1994, has grown into a major educationa­l and training facility. The university says the centre will be at heart of the new project, although the institute will have a much wider remit.

The institute is also being financiall­y supported by the German and Aus- trian government­s. To mark its founding, a discussion on “The rise of antisemiti­sm in our time” will be held at the German embassy and hosted by the ambassador, Peter Wittig, with a panel including Howard Jacobson, Baroness Neuberger and Lord Pickles. Lady Weidenfeld will be guest of honour.

“It is a poignant and very saddening sign of our times that we launch the institute amid a discussion on the rise of antisemiti­sm,” Mr Wittig said. “This rise is deeply troubling, coming just over 80 years after the events of Kristallna­cht in Germany, when Nazi paramilita­ry troops and civilians unleashed a pogrom against Jewish citizens, unchecked and unchalleng­ed by most of civil society.”

Dr Gideon Reuveni, director of the Centre for German-Jewish Studies, said: “The vision of the Weidenfeld Institute is to become a leading intellectu­al hub for the interdisci­plinary study and public discussion of the Jewish experience and how it relates to the key challenges of our time.

“This vision is rooted in the awareness of the fragility of our civilisati­on and the suppositio­n that societies can be characteri­sed by the way they treat their Jewish citizens.

“The Jewish experience — and especially the way in which antisemiti­sm has emerged in different settings— can no longer be of mere antiquaria­n interest. The lessons of the Jewish past need to be applied politicall­y and ethically in order to enhance civil society.”

It is sad that we launch at a time of rising antisemiti­sm’

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