Israel and Ione Massada Fellowships Programme


Endowed by the late Ms. Sheila (Storm) Kelly, in memory of her parents, the Israel and Ione Massada Fellowships Programme offers a unique format for fostering academic partnerships. We sponsor short, collaborative visiting fellowships that promote the values of inclusivity, diversity, and cooperation, alongside academic rigour and innovation, by facilitating interchange among all disciplines, ethnicities and religions in the State of Israel and the University of Oxford.  

Upcoming Public Seminars:
17:15 in the Sultan Nazrin Shah Auditorium, Worcester College

January 20th 2022, Dr Gil Gambash (M), Centre for Mediterranean History, Haifa University.  Postponed to 2023 due to Omicron surge.

May 5th 2022 - Professor Chanita Goodblatt (F), Foreign Literatures and Linguistics, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Seminar Title: ‘The University is a Paradise: Rivers of Knowledge are There.’ This lecture focuses on Evelyn Simpson, editor of early modern English texts and first female Oxford D.Phil. 

May 10th 2022 -- Professor Menahem Kister (M), The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. 'Divine Principles Embedded within the Human Soul', according to some ancient Jewish and Christian texts from the 2nd century BCE to the 2nd century CE, concerning the divine origin of universal ethical precepts and knowledge of good and evil. 

May 17th 2022 -- Dr Yaacov Falkov (M), History, Tel Aviv University and IDC Herzliya. Seminar Title: "’Jews as a Nation are Exterminated:’ Holocaust Through the Eyes of Soviet Intelligence, 1939-1945.” This lecture focuses on the Soviet intelligence community’s efforts to discover the extent and patterns of the mass extermination of Jews from 1941 onwards 

The Massada Fund supports:
(1) up to six visiting academic fellowships from Israel per annum
(2) up to three collaborative research trips per annum by Oxford Fellows to Israel
             The ratio of (1) and (2) is decided annually by the Massada Committee.  
(3) an annual visiting high-profile speaker
(4) a Massada Junior Research Fellow (two-three year post)  
(5) a Massada Programme Director

(1) Visiting Fellowships  

- Academic Visiting Fellowships come about in three ways: (1) application by an Oxford fellow, (2) application by an Israeli academic, (3) invitation by the Massada Committee.
- Eligibility: scholars of all disciplines from any institution of higher education in The State of Israel whose research interests overlap with those of at least one Oxford fellow who has expressed an interest in collaborating and/or scholars from across the University of Oxford wishing to initiate or consolidate a collaboration with an Israeli scholar.
- Priority is given to Worcester fellows (but this is not an exclusive requirement).
- Applications (rolling deadline) should be submitted by email to the Programme Director and include:
     -- short bios of the candidate and collaborating partner -- 40-50 words each
     -- description of the collaboration project undertaken in Oxford/Israel (a paragraph) 
     -- talks/seminars/workshops planned in addition to the Massada Seminar
     -- possible dates for the fellowship
- Applications are initially assessed by the Director, who proposes applicants to the Massada Committee. Selections are then agreed upon by the Committee. 
- Scope: up to five new fellowships pa, and one returning fellowship. (Return applications are open to Massada fellows proving consolidation, extension or development of projects begun in Oxford during their first fellowship. Fellows are eligible for one return visit only)
- Costs: up to £3000 per fellowship, covering flights, accommodation, dining in College, Massada Seminar, drinks reception, and Dinner.
- Format: brief (up to 3 weeks) collaborative-visits that foster interchange without disrupting fellows’ teaching and family commitments
- Massada Seminars: each fellow is invited to deliver an address at Worcester College. This may be a general talk to the college and wider community or a more focused event targeting a specific subject in college.
          - Aims of general talks:
            a. to offer members of College, the University, and the public varied and stimulating talks.
             b. to introduce the visiting fellow and his/her research to as many people as possible, establishing connections that can then                   be followed up during the fellowship.
             c. Talks are also filmed and uploaded to the Massada webpage for future reference.

(2) Collaborative research trips by Oxford Fellows to Israel

- Eligibility: Worcester Fellows seeking to establish or continue any collaborations with any Israeli academic institution, or academics of all disciplines from the University of Oxford wishing specifically to continue collaborating with a Massada Fellow (following that fellow’s visit to Oxford).
- Application procedure as for visiting fellowships by email to the Director
- Costs are to cover flights and (restricted) accommodation.

(3) Annual speaker event

- Aim: to promote a range of prominent speakers from Israel, showcasing cultural and scientific achievements, as well as non-academic public figures
- Candidates selected by the Massada Committee with input from college fellows as appropriate
- Costs: to cover flights, accommodation, dining, and a modest fee.

(4) JRF Programme

- one rolling 2/3 year JRF advertised via the Massada website and elsewhere
- considered by the Massada Committee, then ranked and referred to the College JRF Committee. Final determination made by the JRF Committee.
- Costs: salary plus £5k housing allowance for applicants with families

(5) Role of Massada Programme Director

- provides regular updates and an Annual Report on activities for the committee
- attends committee meetings (withdrawing when the Director’s role or performance are being discussed).
- receives, supervises, and assesses applications to be referred to the Committee
- initiates proposals for the programme
- facilitates collaborations in Oxford and in Israel
- convenes Massada Seminars and dinners
- coordinates administration of visitors, guest lectures, and JRF
- liaises with Fellows, collaborators, Massada Committee, and JRF Committee
- undertakes advertising, promotion, and website updates

For further inquiries and for applications, please contact Dr. Naomi Rokotnitz, Director of the Programme, at

See Dr Rokotnitz's academic profile at


Role of the Massada Committee:

- meet termly to establish priorities and approve applications
- consider further potential invitees and endeavours
- review the website pages prepared by the Director, including details of lectures, seminars, publications, and other achievements
- assess the on-going performance of the Director against the objectives and agree outcomes of the programme
- approve an Annual Report of the Fund’s activities
- 2021-2022 Trustees Committee: The Provost, David Isaac CBE
                                                              Professor Julian Roberts
                                                              Professor Nir Vulkan.

List of past Massada Fellows (Titles, Names, Genders, Affiliations, and Seminar Titles):  

1. Dr Yaacov Falkov (M), History, Tel Aviv University. Massada Seminar to take place during his return visit.   Collaborating Fellow: Professor Robert Gildea, History, Worcester

2. Professor Ronen Perry (M), Law,  Haifa University. Seminar title: 'Online anonymous speech: Technology, Law and Economics: problems and solutions arising from social networks'.  Collaborating Fellow: Professor Donal Nolan, Law, Worcester

3. Dr Amy Gelbart (F), Education,  Herzog College. Seminar title: 'How the fundamentals of improvisation and playback theatre can help you enhance creativity, cultivate listening skills and adopt a growth mindset that improves communication'. Collaborating Fellow: Dr Gabriel Stylianides, Education, Worcester.

4. Professor Avishai Dekel (M), Astrophysics, Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Seminar title: 'The Magic Scale of Galaxies: how the preferred mass and time for galaxy and black-hole formation originate from the physical processes of supernova feedback and gas heating in massive dark-matter haloes'. Collaborating Fellow: Dr Sugata Kaviraj, Astrophysics, Worcester.

5. Dr Tovi Bibring (F), French, Bar Ilan University. Seminar title: 'Exceptional Medieval Story-tellers: How Three Jewish Writers of Hebrew in Europe Challenged the Dominant Culture of their Times'.   Collaborating Fellow: Dr Laura Ashe, English, Worcester

6. Professor Shlomi Segal (M), PPE,  Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Seminar titles: Professor 'The Value of Equality: Positive or Negative?' Collaborating Fellow: Dr Zofia Stemplowska, Law, Worcester

7. Professor Statman (M), Philosophy and Political Theory. Haifa University. Seminar Title: 'Can Preferential Treatment Discriminate Against its Beneficiaries?' Collaborating Fellow: Dr Zofia Stemplowska, Law, Worcester.

8. Dr Irad Kimhi (M), philosopher.  Seminar title: 'The linguistic turn away from absolute idealism'; Collaborating Fellow: Dr Steven Methven, Philosophy, Worcester.

9. Professor Oren Gazal Ayal (M), Dean of Law, Haifa University.  Seminar title: 'Jews and Arabs in the Israeli courts: Exploring just treatment of ethnic minorities'. Collaborating Fellow: Professor Julian Roberts,  Law, Worcester.

10. Professor Irad Malkin (M), Archaeology and Ancient History. Tel Aviv University. Seminar title:  'Fairness, Equality, and the Founding of Four Hundred Ancient Greek Cities'. Collaborating Fellow: Professor Scott Scullion, Classics, Worcester.

11. Professor Renee Poznanaski (F), History. Ben Gurion University of the Negev. Seminar Title: 'Jewish? French? Transnational? Jews in the Resistance in WWII France'. Collaborating Fellow: Professor Robert Gildea, History, Worcester.

12. Dr Zohar Rubinstein (M), Medicine. Tel Aviv University. Seminar title: How urgent is the immediate, on-sight treatment of psychological casualties (or shock victims) in traumatic events? Testimony from the field.'  Also: a screening followed by Q&A with Dr Rubinstein of the award winning film "Streetscapes."  Collaborating Fellow: Professor John Parrington, Medicine, Worcester.

13 + 14. Dr Ayman Agbaria (M) and Professor Daniel Statman (M), Philosophy. Haifa University. Seminar title: '"From the Wells": A Jewish-Arab educational initiative: Theory and Practice'.  Collaborating Fellow: Chaplain Rev. Dr. Tess Kuin Lawton, Worcester.

15. Dr Neta Bodner (F), Medieval History, The Open University.  Seminar Title: “Naked in the Water: Medieval Architecture in the Service of Jewish Purification Practices.” Collaborating Fellow: Dr Conrad Leyser, History, Worcester.

Publications ensuing from the Massada Fellowships Programme:

1. Professor Avihsai Dekel and Dr Sugata Kaviraj. Article: Simmons et al. “Galaxy Zoo: quantitative visual morphological classifications for 48 000 galaxies from CANDELS.” Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 464, 4420. 2017

2. Professors Oren Gazal Ayal together with Oxford collaborator Professor Julian Roberts. Eds. and forward. Special issue of Law and Contemporary Problems 82 (2019): i-ix. ‘Alternatives to Imprisonment: Recent International Developments’ 2019

3. Dr Steven J. Methven (on Massada Fellow Dr Irad Kimchi) Review: “Thinking and being by Irad Kimhi. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2018.”  European Journal of Philosophy 27.3 pp.809-813. 2019

4. Professor Renée Poznanski and Oxford Collaborator Professor Robert Gildea. Chapter: “Transnational Perspectives on Jews in the Resistance.” Robert Gildea and Ismee Tames (eds), Fighters across Frontiers. Transnational Resistance in Europe 1936-1948. Manchester University Press, pp. 109-131. 2020

5. Professor Daniel Statman and Dr Ayman Agbaria. Article: ‘From the Wells’: Teaching Openness in Judaism and Islam Towards a Shared Society in Israel.’ British Journal of Religious Education.  January 2021

6. Professor Irad Malkin. Article: “Oracles and Networks: Sharing Divine and Human knowledge.” In Transmission and Organization of Knowledge in the Ancient Mediterranean World. Phoibos Verlag Wien. Forthcoming 2021

7. Professor Tovi Bibring. Monograph with Legenda: Modern Humanities Research Association (University of Oxford, Humanities Division): The Patient, the Impostor and the Seducer: Medieval European Literature in Hebrew. Forthcoming 2021

8. Professor Tovi Bibring. Article: “Blood Matters, Matters of Blood – Fable 81 by Berechiah ha-Naqdan, Study and Critical Translation.” In “And Wisdom Shall Flow from the Wise”: Wisdom and Morals in Medieval Literature. Jerusalem: Misgav Yerushalayim. Forthcoming February 2022.

9. Professor Tovi Bibring. Article: “Absolving Eve: Medieval Women Writers Remodelling the Creation and the Fall.” In Gender, Creation Myths and their Reception in Western Civilisation: Prometheus, Pandora, Adam and Eve. Bloomsbury Press. Forthcoming February 2022.