Sixth EAJS Congress, Toledo, 19th-23rd July 1998
Jewish Studies at the Turn of the Twentieth Century
The congresses of the EAJS have become one of the Association’s most representative activities. After Oxford (twice), Berlin, Troyes and Copenhagen, the sixth Congress of the Association took place in Toledo, from 19 to 23 July 1998.
Organizers and members of the EAJS have since expressed their satisfaction with this Congress which saw the highest number of participants in the history of our Association. The previous revitalization of the EAJS, the particular significance of Toledo in Jewish history, and the pleasant atmosphere created during these days were responsible of r the generally positive impression – in spite of the terribly hot days we had to suffer. As many of the participants told us, it will not be easy to forget the beautiful opening ceremony in the El Tránsito Synagogue (with Shelomo Morag and David Broza complementing each other), the plenary lectures and musical evenings in the Renaissance court of the Convent of San Pedro Mártir, or the visit to the Jewish quarter of the city, guided by our young students.
With regard to the purely academic aspects of the Congress, the 300 or so lectures in 15 sections effectively gave a picture of the state of Jewish studies at the turn of the 20th century, with particular emphasis on their European characteristics. The number of participants was close to 400, from nearly 30 countries (mostly from Europe, with a substantial participation from Israel and the U.S.A.).
At the end of four years of intense activity on the part of the EAJS Executive Committee, the very long and detailed preparations came to fruition – a result of the efforts of many. The main decisions about the date, place and academic aspects of the event were taken jointly by the Executive Committee. The EAJS Secretariat in Oxford and the Newsletter contributed substantially to the circulation of the calls for papers and to the general information of all European scholars.
In Spain, the Organizing Committee, with representatives from the main Spanish institutions containing Jewish Studies programmes, took care of the practical questions and the development of the programme. A very particular mention should be made of the huge work that EAJS and Congress Treasurer, Luis Girón Blanc, took upon himself. His dedication and efficiency were, without doubt, one of the reasons for the success of the Congress. Another member of the Organizing Committee, Miguel Pérez (University of Granada), made a particular and useful contribution by preparing the internet page containing the programme of the Congress.
Under the Presidency of her Majesty the Queen of Spain many notables of Spanish cultural, administrative and political life accepted the invitation to join the Honorary Congress Committee. Thanks to them it was possible to receive substantial help from several sponsors. First among them was the Fundación Diágolos hich contributed decisively to making the Toledo Congress possible. The Universidad Complutense, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, the Spanish Ministry of Education and Culture, and BCH also helped in different ways and degrees in the realization of the Congress. D. Laureano Salzedo and his team of CSP Congresos dealt with the practical aspects of the event efficiently and competently.
The quality and disposition of the sessions was the result of the excellent work of the fifteen section leaders who dedicated their valuable time to assuring the participation of notable scholars in every area of Jewish studies and to preparing every detail so the sessions. The pre-Congress publication of Abstracts, thanks to the work of Judit Taragona, made it easy for all participants to choose among the many possibilities offered by the – sadly unavoidable – parallel sessions.
The Proceedings of the Congress have now been published in two large volumes as Jewish Studies at the Turn of the Twentieth Century. Proceedings of the 6th EAJS Congress Toledo, July 1998. edited by Judit Targarona Borrás and Angel Sáenz-Badillos, Leiden, Brill, 1999. Some 160 papers with a total of more than 1200 pages offer a global picture of the state of Jewish studies in our time.
Let us remind ourselves of the words of one of the former presidents of the EAJS, Professor Gabrielle Sed-Rajna, in the closing session of the Toledo Conference:
“When closing this 6th Congress of the European Association for Jewish Studies, in the name of all the participants I wish to express deepest thanks to the organizers, Professors Angel Sáenz-Badillos, Luis Girón Blanc and Judit Targarona, for having brought the Congress here, to Toledo. By doing so, they gave to this Congress a historical dimension. Indeed, Toledo was one of the most flourishing centres of Jewish culture from the twelfth century until the end of the fifteenth century. This rich cultural life was reduced to silence for five centuries by the tragic event of the Expulsion. Today, thanks to this Congress, Jewish culture was again present here. This fact gives particular meaning to our scholarly gathering which, I felt, had to be emphasized at this final session.”
The organizers would like to thank all those persons who, in many different ways, made possible the realization of the 6th Congress of the EAJS in Toledo.