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Sussex Weidenfeld Institute for Jewish Studies launches at London event

(Left to right) Lord Pickles, Baroness Neuberger, Thomas Harding (chair), Howard Jacobson and Hella Pick took part in a panel discussion on antisemitism to launch the Sussex Weidenfeld Institute for Jewish Studies. Image copyright: German Embassy London

The Vice-Chancellor Adam Tickell address around 200 guests at the launch of the Sussex Weidenfeld Institute. Image copyright: German Embassy London

Leading figures discussed the rise of antisemitism at an event to launch the University of Sussex’s new centre for Jewish studies.  

Booker Prize-winning author Howard Jacobson joined Baroness Neuberger, journalist Hella Pick and Lord Pickles on a panel addressing rising anti-Jewish sentiment in the UK and beyond. The discussion was chaired by the author Thomas Harding.  

The event on Wednesday (13 March) celebrated the establishment of the Sussex Weidenfeld Institute of Jewish Studies, which has received significant backing from the German government and aims to become a leading centre for Jewish studies. 

The Institute has been launched in memory of the late Lord Weidenfeld, a long-term supporter of the University of Sussex’s renowned work in German-Jewish studies and founding supporter of its more recently established Chair in Modern Israel studies.  

The German Ambassador, Peter Wittig, hosted the launch event at the German Embassy in London. In his opening address, he paid tribute to Lord Weidenfeld’s legacy and warned of the growing threat of antisemitism in our societies. He said: “To remain idle and complacent, to hope for the best, calm down and just carry on cannot and must not be our answer to this threat.

“This is a duty for governments, authorities and institutions but first and foremost for each and every one of us.”

Adam Tickell, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sussex, told gathered guests that the new Institute was a positive development in “dark times”. He said: “At Sussex, social justice and tackling discrimination is central to our values. From the University’s inception in the 1960s, Sussex has always strived to be an agent of positive change and not standing at the side-lines.

“We feel strongly that this is a similar moment to take a stand in addressing antisemitism and discrimination.

“Through research, education and outreach, we feel Sussex has a critical role to play in enlightening the current and the next generation to the dangers of ignoring the lessons of the past.”

Through its German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the German government will fund a new professorship. The new professor will join the Institute at management / executive level and is to be appointed in 2019. 

The Austrian government is also supporting the Institute, funding a summer school for PhD students, a Visiting Fellowship and a study trip for students to Austria. 

The University is now raising financial support for a programme of Visiting Fellowships, and for outreach and public events such as its long-standing Holocaust Memorial Day. In addition, disseminating research findings amongst teachers, educators and parliamentarians will be a key aim of the Institute’s impact agenda.

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By: James Hakner
Last updated: Friday, 15 March 2019

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