The Mandel Scholion Center aspires to facilitate, and encourage, research at the highest level in all branches of the humanities. It does this by providing scholars with a supportive multidisciplinary framework that both allows them to broaden their horizons and to fructify their research by opening them up to the work of colleagues in other fields, and supplies them with budgetary support and other optimal conditions for their work.
The Center was opened in 2002/3 as the joint project of the Hebrew University and the Mandel Foundation, embodying the visionary plan of Prof. Menahem Magidor (then president of the University) and Mr. Morton Mandel to open a multi-disciplinary and cross-generational center for scholars of the humanities. During the Center’s first decade, under the academic leadership of Prof. Israel J. Yuval, the basic modes and structures of the Center were formed and fine-tuned, and so they remain: each year the Center’s academic committee chooses, in competitive processes, ten scholars: two postdocs (“Mandel Fellows”) and one eight-member research group (composed of four senior scholars [at least three from the Hebrew University] and four doctoral students). All scholars come for a three-year period, ten rotating in and out each year, so at any given time there are thirty scholars in the center: twelve doctoral students, six postdocs, and twelve senior scholars—a mixture that makes for balance and for cross-fertilization.
The generous and stable support of the Mandel Foundation allows Mandel Scholion to supply its fellows with a level of support that is usually available only in a few major centers abroad. Beginning with the Center’s devoted and experienced staff, and through the research assistants and technical and financial support that it offers its fellows, it affords them ideal conditions for their work, while at the same time compensating their departments for their dispensation from teaching a part of their usual course-load during their three years as fellows.
Traditionally, work in the humanities is an individual pursuit. Often it is even programmatically so: even today, the classic model is of a scholar sitting alone with his or her texts, hoping to limit to the bare minimum contacts with others, which could only be bothersome interruptions. Indeed, each scholar who comes to Mandel Scholion has his or her own project, and many individuals’ dreams are fulfilled in the Center, by virtue of the fact that it affords scholars the peace and quiet, and support, they need to finish their long-term projects. But Mandel Scholion is also a laboratory to test the hypothesis, that the opportunity to work alongside other scholars, in other fields of the humanities, will not only allow for the fulfillment of the joint projects of research groups, but will also enhance the quality of each individual’s project as well, imparting them more breadth and depth than could be expected without such an environment. To judge by the unwillingness of fellows to leave after three years, and by the number of past fellows who compete for the possibility of returning for another three years, it seems that this hypothesis is well-founded.
As for the postdocs, who as a rule are not members of research groups: for them Mandel Scholion is something of a greenhouse, which allows them the time and the other conditions they need to complete their publications, gain experience in teaching, and, in general, to devote themselves to making themselves as presentable as possible in the academic job market. The results, to date, are very gratifying: more than twenty past Fellows have been appointed to regular tenure-track positions, whether at the Hebrew University or at other universities, in Israel and abroad.
The Mandel Scholion Center occupies the second floor of the Mandel Building on Mt. Scopus, and we invite members of the public and of the University community to visit us and learn more about us. Some of our activities are open to the public, and are announced on our website and that of Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Advanced Studies in the Humanities, of which our Center is one of the central elements.
Daniel R. Schwartz