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"... and meditate on it day and night" - (Joshua 1:8): this sentence originally applied to the "Book of the Torah". In the 19th century, the science of Judaism applied it to the entirety of Jewish religion and culture. However, their universities in Breslau and Berlin remained isolated in the academic landscape; they were destroyed during the National Socialist era. The Heidelberg University of Jewish Studies, founded in 1979 by the Central Council of Jews in Germany, has chosen the Joshua sentence as its motto and pursues it in all its meanings. In doing so, it cultivates the heritage of Jewish scholarship and develops its approaches further as a dynamic part of the surrounding academic landscape.

The Heidelberg University of Jewish Studies is a place of lively academic debate on all facets of Jewish religion, history, cultures and societies. The proximity to the historical heritage of the Ashkenazi landscape provides impulses for the academic and religious work at the university. However, its interest is always directed towards the whole of Jewish cultures across geographical and temporal spaces: in the past and present, as a self-conscious Judaism, as a diaspora and also in the Land of Israel.

The Heidelberg University of Jewish Studies is open to all students and academics, regardless of origin or religious affiliation. It has a unique dual focus, which is also reflected spatially; the Albert Einstein academic library, with the seminar rooms in between, corresponds to the teaching house, the Beth Midrash; this is the place for religious learning of the basic texts of Judaism with the university rabbi and members of the academic teaching staff. The kosher canteen caters for members of the university; it also offers space for relaxation and socializing.

In the interplay of internal and external perspectives, the university sharpens the view of religion, history, culture and society. Teachers and graduates alike continue to write Jewish history and theology. As a unique European center of excellence, it thus enables a variety of individual destinations and future perspectives within and outside the Jewish communities of Europe.

As a laboratory of a rapidly changing society, it builds bridges

  • as the largest European location for Jewish Studies in conjunction with the humanities and social sciences in Heidelberg and other cooperation partners

  • as an academic place of teaching and learning for Jewish and non-Jewish students

  • between academia and society

  • between academia and community life in the training of community personnel

  • as a place of dialog between Jews, Christians and Muslims.

Alessandra Arcidiacono (Doktorandin, Romanistik)

There is a positive atmosphere in Heidelberg in every respect: personally thanks to the open-minded and hospitable colleagues and professionally thanks to the nature of the city itself, which allows you to constantly compare yourself with other points of view.

Alessandra A., PhD student Bible glossaries