The Hochschule für Jüdische Studien Heidelberg
“…and thou shalt meditate therein day and night” (Joshua, 1:8): Originally, this excerpt has been thought to refer to the “Book of the Torah”. But in the 19th century, the "Wissenschaft des Judentums" applied this phrase to the whole of Jewish religion and culture. Nevertheless, the movement’s institutions of Jewish higher education in Breslau and Berlin remained isolated from the scientific landscape, having been ultimately dismantled during the National Socialist Regime. Later founded by the Central Council for Jews in Germany in 1979, the Hochschule für Jüdische Studien Heidelberg chose this phrase from Joshua as its guiding principle to be followed in accordance with its manifold meanings. In doing so, the HfJS fosters the legacy of the "Wissenschaft des Judentums" by further developing its approaches into a dynamic part of the surrounding scholarly terrain.
The Hochschule für Jüdische Studien Heidelberg is a point of dynamic scholarly discussion that incorporates all facets of Jewish religion, history, cultures and societies. While the proximity to the historical heritage of Ashkenaz provides decisive impetus for both academic and religious work at the HfJS, its interest invariably extends beyond to all areas of geography and chronology as to consider Jewish cultures at large: in the past and present; within a self-reliant Judaism; within the Diaspora; and likewise within the land of Israel.
The Hochschule für Jüdische Studien Heidelberg opens its doors to all students and scholars—regardless of their respective origins and creeds. It also undertakes a dual track, which is demonstrated by the mere layout of the HfJS itself: The scientific Albert Einstein Library is situated, albeit with seminar rooms between them, in juxtaposition to the corresponding house of learning, the Beth Midrash. Here within the same institution, the learning of religious foundational texts of Judaism with the campus Rabbi meets the study and scientific discourse among members and academic staff. Equipped with a kosher cafeteria, the HfJS furthermore caters to the needs of its members for nourishment and a relaxing social atmosphere.
The interplay between internal and external perspectives allows the Hochschule für Jüdische Studien Heidelberg to hone its view on religion, history, culture and society. It is, after all, the teachers and graduates who will refine our knowledge of Jewish history and theology. As a center of excellence unique in its field to Europe, the HfJS distinctly enables diverse resources and future prospects both within and outside of the Jewish communities of Europe.
As a laboratory for a society in rapid flux, the HfJS builds bridges
- As the biggest European site of Jewish Studies in association with the humanities and social sciences in Heidelberg, as well as with other cooperative partners
- As an academic institute for teaching and studying among both Jewish and non-Jewish students
- Between academia and society
- Between academia and community life during the training of community leaders
- As a place of dialogue between Jews, Christians and Muslims
The HfJS provides strong language training at all levels (in Biblical, Rabbinical and Modern Hebrew, as well as Hebrew-scripted languages, such as Yiddish and Judeo-Arabic). It offers degrees in accredited B.A. and M.A. programs taught in German, as well as an international M.A. partnership program in “Jewish Civilizations” taught in English together with Paideia—The European Institute for Jewish Studies in Sweden. Finally, the HfJS also provides a Ph.D in Jewish Studies (Dr. phil.) in cooperation with the University of Heidelberg.