The Society for the Study of the Medieval Judeo-Arabic Culture (SJAS)

The Society for the Study of the Medieval Judeo-Arabic-
Culture – its History and Goals

The Society for the Study of the Medieval Judeo-Arabic Culture (SJAS) was founded in 1984, as a joint initiative of Prof. Norman Golb (1928-2020), Prof. Joshua Blau (2919-2020), Prof. Haggai Ben-Shammai, Prof. Norman Stillman and others. The Society’s founders recognized the need to encourage the study of the extensive output in Judeo-Arabic. In the wake of the Arab conquests, this literature made its first appearance in the vast territories extending from India in the East to the Iberian Peninsula in the west, and from Syria in the north to Yemen in the south.
It blossomed throughout the Middle Ages, up to the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492, and thereafter up to modern times. Since its founding conference, the Society has grown and expanded, having presently some two hundred registered members from across the world, whose research is dedicated to various aspects of medieval Judeo-Arabic culture.

SJAS Goals

1. To promote the study of medieval Judeo-Arabic culture in all relevant contemporary fields of knowledge, to include history, sociology, intellectual history, philosophy, linguistics, biblical exegesis, law, magic and popular beliefs, poetry, literature, and folklore.

2. To educate and encourage research in various relevant fields, including the study of Judeo-Arabic language and history, as well as paleography, codicology, Genizah research, and Judeo-Arabic cultural, literary, philosophical and scientific production.

3. To disseminate the fruits of this research in broad circles and to raise the awareness of the importance of medieval Judeo-Arabic culture, its richness and its accomplishments.

The Society’s Activity

The Society holds a biennial conference, alternating between Israel (where it is held in conjunction with the World Congress of Jewish Studies) and other countries. On average, the Society’s conferences bring together close to a hundred participants, offering some forty lectures on diverse topics. The twenty-first SJAS conference was held in Munich in the summer of 2023.

Judaeo-Arabic studies: proceedings of the Founding Conference of the Society for Judaeo-Arabic Studies, [Chicago, May 1984], edited by Norman Golb, Amsterdam : Harwood Academic Publishers c1997.

Most of the conferences’ lectures were published in suitable venues, some in dedicated volumes Genizah research after ninety years: the case of Judaeo-Arabic: papers read at the third congress of the Society for Judaeo-Arabic Studies, edited by Joshua Blau, Stefan C. Reif, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1992;
 
In addition to the biennial conferences, the Society organizes, occasional, topical conferences or other scholarly events ,

Statutes of the Society for the Study of the Medieval
Judeo-Arabic Culture

The Society for the Study of Medieval Judeo-Arabic Culture (henceforward: the Society),founded in 1984, is an international learned society dedicated to the study of medieval Judeo-Arabic culture in its various aspects. After years of operating with the help of the Ben-ZviInstitute (henceforward: the Institute), the time has come to formalize an arrangementhistorically based on goodwill. A memorandum of understanding, signed in April 2023, anchorsthe Society as a freestanding research center within the Institute. The following statutes clarifythe Society’s goals and its modus operandi as a research center at the Institute.

Goals

1. To promote the study of medieval Judeo-Arabic culture in all relevant contemporary fields of knowledge, to include history, sociology, intellectual history, philosophy, linguistics, biblical exegesis, law, magic and popular beliefs, poetry, literature, and folklore.

2. To educate and encourage research in various relevant fields, including the study of Judeo-Arabic language and history, as well as paleography, codicology, Genizah research, and Judeo-Arabic cultural, literary, philosophical and scientific production.
 
3. To disseminate the fruits of this research in broad circles and to raise the awareness of the importance of medieval Judeo-Arabic culture, its richness and its accomplishments.

Structure

Membership in the Society is open to all researchers in relevant fields who identify with its goals. Membership is conditioned on registration and on payment of annual (or lifetime)membership fees. The Society is an independent research body that is not a legal entity. Its members are independent researchers or serve the faculty of academic institutions. The Society is headed by a President, a Vice President and an Executive Board. Officers of the Society are elected by theSociety’s members from among the members. The term of office is fixed at four years, with the possibility of being reelected for a second term.

The Society’s Executive Board consists of up to 15 members from Israel and abroad, who represent the variety of fields and areas of interest of the Society’s members. Its composition should reflect the Society’s pluralistic character. Like other officers of the Society, members of the Executive Board are elected from among the Society’s members, by the General Meeting of the Society’s members, held at the Society’s biennial conference. Their fixed term of office is also four years, with the possibility of an extension for one more term of office.

The Society’s Statutes (and any future emendations thereof) must be approved by the ExecutiveBoard and ratified at the Society’s general meeting. The Executive Board will meet at every Society’s conference, and will be available for virtual discussions as needed.

Membership fees are used to finance the Society’s activities. The amount of the membership feeswill be determined by the Executive Committee and confirmed at the Society’s general meeting.

The Society's Treasurer, elected at the Society’s biennial conference, is in charge of managing the Society’s finances, including designated donations and various expenses.

The Society’s Activity

  • A biennial conference, to be held alternately in Israel (in conjunction with the World Congress of Jewish Studies) and abroad. Expenses of the conference’s organization will be borne, as much as possible, by the host institution, but for that purpose the Society and the host will also apply to external funding bodies. Participants’ travel and lodging expenses will, as a rule, be covered by the participants themselves. Members of the Society that who do not have institutional resources at their disposal may request a subsidy from the Society   to be used to help cover these expenses.The agenda of the biennial conference will also include a General Meeting of the Society.
  • Occasional conferences or other scholarly events.
  • Promoting the publication of the conference lectures, as conference proceedings or in other suitable venues.
  • Promoting collaboration with international academic bodies on research related to the study of medieval Judeo-Arabic culture.
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Officers

Acknowledgements

We are grateful to Mr. Michael (Mikey) Federmann and to the Federmann Enterprises, whose generous support enabled us to embark on building a website for the Society. Our thanks go to the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, for their generous support to the Society’s 21st International conference, held in LMU Munich in August 2023.