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Dear JHSE members,

I write to you as the Jewish Book Week (JBW) comes to its end. Many members of the JHSE have taken part: as presenters, as audience members, and as avid purchasers of books from the very enticing display in King’s Place. It being the Society’s 130th anniversary, we had long planned a big event, a panel entitled What is History For? Scheduled for the busy Sunday of the JBW, and expertly chaired by Adam Taub, is looked to be like an exciting occasion to discuss how Jewish History can be made better known, form part of school curricula and of public history.


The events since October 2023 meant that the tenor of our discussion was quite different. Jonathan Brent, Simon Schama and I therefore spoke – guided by Adam – about the state of our campuses, the place of Holocaust education – strengths and weaknesses – and the way forward. Everyone agreed that more historical awareness at very level of education and public discourse might inform views that are less extreme and more tolerant. We also spoke about building alliances across communities, even as this seems so hard.


I think above all those who attended were simply delighted to be meeting and discussing important issues that occupy the hearts and minds of many of us.


Spring is in the air, and with it an acceleration of activities. Many of you will be interested in an event on 21 March at 6pm organised by JHSE with King’s College London. This is the launch of Francisco Bethencourt’s Strangers Within, a study of the lives developed by the diaspora of Jews forced to convert in Spain and Portugal, and who spread throughout the world, wherever the Spanish and Portuguese empires reached. There will be a short presentation by the author followed by a discussion in which I shall be taking part.


On 28 March 2024 at 8pm we will host Professor Emeritus Jon Silverman, who will speak to us about UK Law and Nazi Collaborators: the Failure of Justice


Please join us at these events, they are interesting and it is always good to see you online or in person.


There has never been a better time to bring friends and family into the circle of Jewish History. Please consider giving JHSE membership as a spring gift, a festival not only of freedom, but of historical awareness.


Best wishes from Miri Rubin





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