The collaboration between the late Ian Karten, MBE, and the Woolf Institute can be traced back to his own personal support for our formation and our Founder, Dr Ed Kessler MBE, in the planning and establishment of what was first conceived as the Centre for Jewish-Christian Relations. From their first meeting, Ian strongly encouraged the organisation’s efforts to increase understanding between people of different beliefs, through education, research and outreach.
Throughout this time, the Woolf Institute has been privileged to receive funding for postgraduate students from the Ian Karten Trust. The Ian Karten Scholarships have supported up to five students a year from the University of Cambridge, who are undertaking their work on aspects of interfaith relations at the Institute. The gifts have also encouraged other donors to give in support of scholars at the Woolf Institute, further enhancing their impact.
The 2012 cohort of Ian Karten Scholars were the first to have part of their course taught virtually, a pioneering initiative at the time, which has stood the Institute in good stead as more and more of its resources and teaching have been delivered online. Over the years, Ian Karten Scholarships have been awarded to people from a wide range of backgrounds wishing to enhance their understanding of interfaith relations and its effect on the world around us, including rabbis, priests, county community cohesion officers and charity workers. Here is a selection of just four Woolf Institute students whom the Ian Karten Charitable Trust has supported:
Madeleine Ary considers that the guidance and recommendations she received during her scholarship helped to start her working life: ‘I am exactly where I had hoped to be in my career, and much of it is due to the experiences I gained from this Master’s course.’ After completion of the course, Madeleine’s first role was at the White House and she later became Director of Programmes for Tracks for Peace.
Elisheva Malkiel-Rosen is running a programme designed to empower and aid Ethiopian Jewish women to reach their academic potential. In this role, she is passing on what she learnt during her Masters at the Woolf Institute and, as she says, thus able to, ‘provide these women with the tools to fulfil their potential and grow confident in themselves as intelligent, capable and creative women’.
Mohammad Shomali’s MPhil in Muslim-Jewish Relations was part-funded by his Karten Scholarship. ‘This MPhil course has been a highlight in my life,’ which is possibly why he completed it with top grades, resulting in him being awarded a highly competitive Gates Cambridge Scholarship to complete a PhD at the University of Cambridge.
Dr Austin Tiffany was the first Ian Karten PhD scholar at the Woolf Institute to complete his doctoral dissertation (those before had all been Masters students). He is now the Executive Manager of the International Community of the Holy Sepulchre, an organisation that seeks to support Christians and their Churches in Israel, the Palestinian Territories and Jordan, through advocacy, raising awareness and action.
With the support of the Ian Karten Charitable Trust these students, and many more, have earned distinguished honours and positions, which they use to improve relations between people of different faiths and society.
When the Woolf Institute held an appeal to fund the construction of its own purpose-built premises, the Ian Karten Charitable Trust generously supported it with an additional gift. The Institute’s long association with Ian and his Trust through the Ian Karten Trust Scholarships is recorded in the naming of The Ian Karten Trust Meeting Room directly opposite the Woolf Institute’s main entrance. We are most grateful for Ian Karten’s life and his support for the Woolf Institute’s work. We continue his legacy with pride.