Program Information and Logistics
Program Venue and Size
Twenty-five college and university faculty members or current full-time graduate students in the humanities will be selected to participate in the program. Each participant will receive a $3,900 stipend to help defray expenses. The program will be conducted at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies (OCHJS). Located on its own campus in Yarnton, four miles from the center of Oxford, OCHJS is a recognized independent centre of the University of Oxford, offering a masters degree in Jewish Studies. (For OCHJS web site, see (http://www.ochjs.ac.uk.) Its campus offers a modern library with more than 110,000 volumes, common rooms, and housing. Since the academic year at OCHJS will already have ended, institute participants will share the OCHJS campus only with its permanent and visiting fellows.
Institute participants will have the status of visiting faculty members, enabling them to obtain privileges at Oxford's Bodleian library and related university libraries. Library hours during the summer months, when the university is not in session, are generally shortened. The Leopold Muller Memorial Library at OCHJS is open Monday-Friday from 10:00 A.M. until 5:00 P.M., although institute participants will be able to check out books to their rooms to assist their research. During the summer months, the university Bodleian library is open Monday-Friday from 9:00 A.M. until 7:00 P.M., and from 9:00 A.M. until 4:00 P.M. on Saturdays, with the exception of the August Bank Holiday Weekend. Individual college libraries are closed or maintain irregular hours outside the academic term. Participants who wish to examine materials in college libraries are advised to make an appointment with the college librarian. Successful candidates who wish access to Oxford University libraries should complete the application for a reader’s card. If you do not require access to manuscripts and special collections, complete form A at http://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/65848/7106-Form-A-admissions-form_V2.pdf; complete Admissions forms A and B (Form B is at http://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/65849/admissions-form-B.pdf) if you do require access to manuscripts and special collections. Return the application form(s) to Irven M. Resnick by 1 June 2014. Include two passport sized photos with the application.
Lecture-discussions and seminars will meet Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Wednesdays are reserved for optional meetings, trips, and group discussion with visiting faculty, or may be designated for private research and reading in the University libraries. On typical Monday and Friday mornings, presentations will be scheduled from 9:30-10:15, followed by a short break, with discussion continuing from 10:30 to noon. Tuesday and Thursday meetings will be held from 9:30-11:30 and 1:00-3:00.Please note that our program calendar does not overlap with sessions scheduled at the International Medieval Congress in Leeds, which meets from 7-10 July 2014 (see http://www.leeds.ac.uk/ims/imc/imc2014_call.html).
Ricardo House, the graduate student residence at OCHJS, has been reserved for participants. It contains sixteen private rooms arranged in four suites. Each suite consists of four comfortable private bedrooms around a shared kitchen and bath. These rooms are fairly large (about 15’X20’), fully furnished with bed, wardrobe, chest of drawers, desk and desk chair, an easy chair, and bathroom sink. For photos of Ricardo House rooms, click here. The rooms also have a telephone. Internal calls are free; local calls outside OCHJS cost 6 pence/minute (this is standard; even private homes pay a per minute telephone charge).
Each cluster of 4 bedrooms in Ricardo House shares a kitchen equipped with a microwave, full-sized electric range with oven, and a refrigerator with freezer. They also share a bath, equipped with toilet, tub and hand-held shower. On each floor there is a large common room with a dining table and chairs, easy chairs, and a television with DVD player (although cable TV is not available in Yarnton). Sheets and towels will be exchanged weekly, and maid service will be provided each week All pots, pans, utensils, plates, etc. are provided for cooking. Rooms will be made available to participants at a reduced rate of £1225 for the entire five-week period. Transportation is available to and from Oxford, either on the Centre's shuttle bus or using public transportation. For the dollar conversion, you may consult http://www.xe.com/ucc. Laundry facilities are available on site.
In addition to Ricardo House, OCHJS has available two or three-bedroom historic cottages with private bedrooms that participants may share. (for photos click here) There may also be a small number of furnished flats available for couples or small families. In sum, we should be able to accommodate all institute participants on site. We strongly encourage all participants to reside at OCHJS in order to create an intellectual community. We have made arrangements to pay for housing at OCHJS simply by deducting the cost from your stipend. This will save individual participants both the bother and the considerable expense of purchasing a money order in pounds (£).
Successful applicants must notify Irven M. Resnick no later than 1 May, 2014 that they would like to reside at OCHJS (which we strongly recommend). This gives you approximately one month to explore other options, should you choose to do so.
Check-in will be on 12 July between 9:00 A.M and 12:30 P.M. and 2:00 and 5:00 P.M. at the OCHJS reception office in the manor house. If you would like to arrive in Oxford or Yarnton before 12 July, please contact the institute director. If you would like to spend a night (or more) in London before or after our program, you may inquire about housing for academics at Goodenough Club (at the London Goodenough Trust). Consult the trust’s web site at http://www.club.goodenough.ac.uk , or write the club directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Participants, whenever possible, are strongly encouraged to remain on the OCHJS campus. Although the program directors can offer some assistance in locating off-campus housing, participants who plan to bring family members may wish to make their own arrangements. Please consult the classified ads in the university’s Oxford Gazette at http://www.ox.ac.uk/gazette (Click on “Weekly Issues,” select a week, and then click on “Advertisements: Houses—or flats—to Let”). You’ll also find some links for short term rentals at http://www.oxfordcity.co.uk/oxford/home_accommodation_apartments_self_catering.html. Please be advised, however, that summer rentals in Oxford can be very expensive. If you require family housing, or would prefer to live away from the OCHJS campus, you may also wish to consult one of the many rental agents in the Oxford area. You may also want to check classified ads in Oxford newspapers; you can access property listings and obtain other information by exploring http://www.thisisoxfordshire.co.uk. Finally, you will find a number of listings of flats or houses to rent at http://www.dailyinfo.co.uk.
Just as housing in Oxford can be very expensive so too restaurants will be more expensive than in the U.S. Grocery items, however, are more attractively priced. A typical weekly grocery bill should be about what you would pay in the US. Cooking your meals in your OCHJS kitchen will be your most affordable option.
It is recommended that institute participants bring laptop computers or tablets. Individual rooms do not have ethernet wall jacks, but OCHJS provides a wireless network with internet access. Participants should be able to access the internet or web-based e-mail from anywhere on campus, apart from weather related disruptions. Participants without a laptop will have access to computers in the library at OCHJS. However, participants should understand that computer facilities on-site likely do not equal those at their home institutions.
Most US laptops (except the most ancient!) can be plugged in at a wall outlet in the UK, requiring only a 3 prong plug adaptor that can be purchased in the US at most office supply stores, or in the UK at most book stores and other outlets (cost in the UK: about £3-4). To be sure that you can plug in your laptop without a voltage converter, look on the back of the power supply/AC adapter. If it indicates that the laptop will operate on voltage ranging from 110-240v—voltage in the UK is 230v—you’ll be fine. Similarly, many of our personal appliances, e.g. hairdryers and CD players, are dual voltage appliances. Check the voltage requirements to be sure that you can plug in with just a plug adapter. See below for an illustration of the UK 3 prong plug (and adapter, on the left).
Participants must have a passport, valid for at least six months beyond the end date of our program. Each participant will arrange travel to England independently. The nearest airports are London’s Heathrow and Gatwick. It is also possible to fly to Birmingham International Airport, which offers direct rail service to Oxford. Travel time from the Birmingham airport to Oxford is about 75 minutes. Alternatively, it is possible to fly to Manchester or London’s Stansted airport, although the ground travel time to Oxford will be longer. For ground transportation from Stansted Airport,see http://www.stanstedairport.com/transport-and-directions. Note that there is no direct coach or rail service from Stansted to Oxford. Travellers will have to connect in London. Expect the journey to take 4 hours or more.
For directions to Yarnton from London airports, click below for directions from Heathrow; click here for directions from Gatwick North or here for Gatwick South. Oxford Bus Company express buses leave every 20 minutes from Heathrow Airport, 24 hours each day, and every hour from Gatwick Airport. Note that it is considerably less expensive to purchase a return (i.e. round trip) ticket to Oxford on the airport bus. For airport bus information for Oxford or from central London, see the Oxford Bus Company. For bus service between Oxford and central London, see the Oxford Tube for times and fares. The trip requires about 1 hour and 45 minutes each way, depending on traffic. It is also possible to rent a car at the airport. Follow driving directions below from Heathrow and Gatwick:
If you take the bus to Oxford, upon first arrival at Oxford’s Gloucester Green bus terminal, we recommend that participants take a taxi to OCHJS in Yarnton. Tell the taxi driver to drop you at Yarnton Manor, on Church Lane in Yarnton (a distance of 4-5 miles). The fare will be about £14. The Oxford train station is about 6 blocks beyond the Gloucester Green bus station. Taxi fare from the train station is about £17. The S3 Stagecoach bus travels from the train station to Yarnton.
While travel back and forth from Yarnton to Oxford is not much of a problem during the day, after 5 PM public bus transportation is more limited. Local bus service is provided by the Stagecoach Line. For timetable click here. Service to Yarnton is provided by bus S3 about every 30 minutes. The local stop is Yarnton Village, the Paddocks, about 1/3 mile from OCHJS. After 7:30 PM until 11:58 PM the bus stops each hour at Yarnton. Please note that the last bus on Sunday drops off at 8:09 PM. Bus and minibus schedules are even more limited on weekends. If you plan to be out late (past midnight on weekdays and Saturday), a taxi from Oxford will be your only means of transportation.
If you like to bicycle, it is possible to rent a bicycle by the week. The cost is
For general travel information from Oxford by rail or by bus, click on travel and transport at http://www.visitoxfordandoxfordshire.com/travel-information.
For rail passes, schedules and charges, see http://www.raileurope.com/us/rail/passes/uk_index.htm
For low cost bus service from Oxford to London or Cambridge, see Megabus, at http://www.attitudetravel.com/uk/lowcostbuses/megabus2.html
For information on travel within London via the Tube (subway) or by bus, see http://www.tfl.gov.uk/modalpages/2625.aspx
OCHJS also runs a shuttle bus service from its campus to stops in Oxford; participants may elect to use this service at a nominal charge. For the summer shuttle timetable, click here. Even with bus and shuttle service, however, participants should be prepared regularly to walk distances of 1/2 mile or more daily.
Car Rental and Rail Passes
If you plan to rent a car in England, let me advise you to make arrangements before you leave the States—you’ll usually find a better rate. You might check http://www.europcar.com for competitive rates. If you are planning weekend touring during your stay in England, you can find information about rail passes and other travel information at http://www.raileurope.com/us/index.htm.
For a short stay, it does not make sense to open a local bank account (the process can take weeks). Instead, we recommend using a debit card to obtain cash from an ATM machine. These machines are ubiquitous. In England, banks typically do not charge a fee when you use a debit card from another bank; your home banking institution may do so, however, and it may impose a surcharge of 2-3% on overseas withdrawals. You should check with your bank to determine the amount of the fee as well as your daily withdrawal limit. Also, make certain that your card can be used at overseas locations. Typically, exchange rates when using an ATM card are quite favorable.
Another option is to purchase Travellers Checks in £. A bank will cash them, as will currency exchange windows. Some retail outlets will not accept them, however, making them less useful than the debit card. Even those outlets that do accept these checks will require proof(s) of identification.
Although OCHJS is located outside the city of Oxford, a fifteen minute bus ride delivers the visitor to the city's center. Even during summer break, Oxford is a busy, vibrant city with many entertainment opportunities. For a quick look at Oxford's offerings, see the Oxford Visitor's Guide at http://www.oxfordcity.co.uk. For an interesting virtual tour of Oxford and environs, see http://www.chem.ox.ac.uk/oxfordtour.
In addition, we plan various gatherings for institute participants on the OCHJS campus. Although there are no athletic facilities on the campus, there are extensive gardens, as well as paths for walking and biking.
Useful Telephone Numbers
The telephone number for the administrative offices at OCHJS is (01865) 377946; FAX (01865) 375079. When calling from the U.S., you must first dial the international code (011), then the country code, (44), then the city code (1865), followed by the local number 377946. Note that when calling from the U.S., one omits the “0” in the Oxford city code (01865). When calling within the UK, the “0” is required.
Cell phones from the U.S. will not operate in the UK (or Europe) unless your provider can install an international SIM card. Few domestic cell phone companies offer this. Check with your cell phone provider to determine whether it can offer service in the UK.
I have planned a welcome gathering for all participants on Sunday, 13 July at 6:00 PM at the Manor House in Yarnton. There, you’ll meet the other participants. You’ll also learn more about our schedule and program at that time. Other social events are also being considered—e.g. a bus tour of Oxford, wine and cheese evenings, picnics, pub tours, etc. Also we plan to have a walking tour of medieval Jewish Oxford. If you have any particular requests or suggestions for such events, please let me know.
The average Oxford temperature during July and August is 16° Celsius, or about 66° F. This is an average of daytime and overnight temperatures. Most days will be between 65° F-75° F; most nights temperatures will fall to 55° F-60° F. But be advised that England does occasionally suffer a heat wave (temperatures in the 80s or even 90s), and most Oxford buildings are not air conditioned, including those at OCHJS. For local weather, you may consult http://www.accuweather.com/en/gb/oxford/ox1-1/weather-forecast/330217.
Participants should make certain that they have adequate medical insurance coverage for travel to England. Many HMO plans provide coverage only for emergency room treatment. However, several insurers provide special riders or medical plans for travelers.
Additional travel instructions, as well as specific information on the program syllabus, will be provided on this site in the next few months. In the interim, please direct questions to Professor Irven M. Resnick via e-mail (Irven-Resnick@UTC.EDU) or phone (423) 425-4446; FAX (423) 425-4153.