The Hochschule für Jüdische Studien (HfJS), Heidelberg was founded in 1979. It is supported by the Central Consistory of the Jews in Germany (Zentralrat der Juden in Deutschland), financed through the local and federal government and is a fully recognized and accredited institution of higher learning. Nowhere else in Europe can Jewish studies be pursued in comparable breadth and depth. This allows the HfJS to impart to its students, both Jewish and non-Jewish, the richness and diversity of Jewish religion, history and culture within an academic context.
With 10 professors and as many Assistants the HfJS is today the leading center for Jewish studies in Europe. Due to the recognition the HfJS has attained, it has become a main source of information for politicians, the media, churches and other educational institutions, as well as being since 2007 a member of the College Rectors’ Conference (Hochschulrektorenkonferenz).
The HfJS views itself as a part of a community wherein it can serve as a catalyst for understanding and dialogue. Its task is not merely the advancement of academic research and knowledge, but also to serve as a bridge between the Jewish community in Germany (the third largest in Europe) and the society at large. The youth outreach program, Likrat, has received awards for its achievements in developing understanding between religions and its work fighting anti-Semitic resentment. The project thrives on the interaction of young Jews and non-Jews. In its public lecture series such noteworthy luminaries have spoken as Chancellor Angela Merkel, Marcel Reich-Ranicki and Joschka Fischer. The HfJS has also been able to involve a wide array of academics, students and others with an interest in Jewish religion and culture through its various publications: Trumah, the academic journal of the HfJS; its book series, Schriften der Hochschule für Jüdische Studien; and its magazine, Mussaf. An electronic newsletter is also published regularly that offers news and information about the HfJS.
The HfJS maintains a close connection to the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg. A collaborative agreement allows students dual entrance into both the University of Heidelberg and the HfJS.
Centrum für Jüdische Studien (CJS) of the Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz
Since the winter semester 2007/2008 a mutual agreement has been established between the HfJS and the CJS to offer a joint M.A. program in Jewish Studies – History of Jewish Cultures.
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
A collaborative agreement with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has been established in order to correlate the teaching and research of the HfJS with that of the corresponding faculties of the Hebrew University.
SRH Hochschule, Heidelberg
With the introduction of the degree in Jewish community work a collaboration has developed between the Fachhochschule Heidelberg (FH) and the HfJS. The agreement allows students of the HfJS to take courses at the FH.
Pädagogischen Hochschule Heidelberg
Those training to be cantors are now able to profit from the collaboration between the HfJS and the Pädagogischen Hochschule Heidelberg.
Orthodoxen Rabbinerkonferenz Deutschland (ORD)
In the area of Rabbinic education and ordination a relationship exists between the HfJS and the Orthodoxen Rabbinerkonferenz Deutschland (ORD). The ORD has taken over the collateral religious education of the B.A. and M.A. programs from the HfJS.
The Zentralarchiv is also sponsored by the Central Consistory of the Jews in Germany. The archive comprises, among other things, a photo collection of gravestones from Jewish graveyards in Baden-Württemberg, a project that the HfJS is honored to have initiated.