Jews' College

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JEWS' COLLEGE , rabbinical seminary in London. Jews' College was founded in 1855 by the Ashkenazi chief rabbi, Nathan Marcus *Adler (but with support from the Sephardi community). It had two objectives: to train English-speaking ministers and laymen in Jewish and secular subjects; and to educate boys in a Jewish secondary school. The secondary school was closed in 1879, as middle-class pupils increasingly entered secular schools, but the college continued to train ministers, readers, and teachers for the English-speaking world. From 1883 onward its pupils normally graduated at London University. The first principal, Louis Loewe (who resigned in 1858), was succeeded by Barnett Abrahams. Continental standards of scholarship were upheld by Michael *Friedlaender (1865–1907) and especially Adolph *Buechler (1907–39). He was succeeded by Isidore *Epstein (1945–61), a former student, who developed the college's activities, including a teachers training faculty, a cantors' institute, and extension lectures. On his retirement a controversy arose over the refusal of Chief Rabbi Israel *Brodie, the college president, to confirm the appointment of its tutor, Louis *Jacobs, as principal. Eventually, H.J. *Zimmels was appointed principal. Subsequent principals were Nahum Rabinovitch (1971–83), Jonathan Sacks (1984–90), Irving Jacobs (1990–93), and Daniel Sinclair (1994– ). Among those who lectured at the college were such distinguished scholars as Israel Abrahams, S.A. Hirsch, H. Hirschfeld, A. Marmorstein, Samuel Daiches, and C. Roth.

Despite the distinction attained by staff and graduates, attendance at Jews' College was never high. Between 1883 and 1967, 91 qualified as ministers with a university degree, and between 1896 and 1967, 65 obtained the rabbinical diploma (47 from the course instituted by I. Epstein and conducted by K. Kahana). Twenty-two rabbis graduated between 1971 and 1995 (15 of them since 1989). The college has not always found it easy to be both a committed seminary for Orthodox ministers and a college in the liberal academic tradition. Since 1989, the college has seen a resurgence of interest never experienced before in Anglo-Jewry. The College is an Associate Institution of the University of London. The 1995 student population of the college was 140. The college offers B.A. (Honours) degrees in Jewish Studies and an M.A. in Hebrew and Jewish Studies. Both degrees are accredited by the University of London. The college offers facilities leading to M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees of the University of London in areas within the research interest of its staff.

In addition to the rabbinate, many of those who graduate with a university degree enter into the burgeoning educational field or serve the Social Services in Great Britain and lately also in Israel.

The college publishes a biannual magazine, Le'ela, which contains both scholarly articles and review of books of Judaic interest. The series of Jews' College Publications comprises a number of important contributions to Jewish scholarship. In 1995 the library, founded in 1860, contained 80,000 printed books, 30,000 pamphlets, and 700 manuscripts (including the Montefiore collection).

[Vivian David Lipman]


I. Harris, in: Jews' College Jubilee Volume (1906), 3–182; A.M. Hyamson, Jews' College, London, 18551955 (1955) I. Epstein, Contribution of Jews' College to Jewish Learning (1960).