The Hochschule für Jüdische Studien Heidelberg (HfJS) was founded in 1979. It is supported by the Central Council 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 and the society at large. In its public lecture series "Heidelberger Hochschulreden" 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 and its book series "Schriften der Hochschule für Jüdische Studien". An electronic newsletter is also published regularly that offers news and information about the HfJS.