Heidelberg University for Jewish Studies

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University of Jewish Studies Heidelberg (HfJS)
founding 1979
Sponsorship Central Council of Jews in Germany
place Coat of arms Heidelberg.svg Heidelberg
state Baden-WürttembergBaden-Württemberg Baden-Württemberg
country GermanyGermany Germany
Rector Johannes Heil
Students Enrolled: 85

Students at Heidelberg University  : 150 to 170
As of: WiSe 2018/2019

Professors 11
Scientific staff: 10 As of: summer semester 2017
Website www.hfjs.eu
New main entrance

The Heidelberg University for Jewish Studies (HfJS) is a private, state-recognized university in Heidelberg founded in 1979 . It is supported by the Central Council of Jews in Germany and financed by the federal and state governments. It cooperates closely with the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität and is open to applicants of any denomination .


The University for Jewish Studies Heidelberg (HfJS) has existed since 1979. It is supported by the Central Council of Jews in Germany and financed by the federal and state governments. As early as 1971, the then Baden regional rabbi , Nathan Peter Levinson , had the idea of setting up a training center for rabbis , cantors and religion teachers. The institute should follow the tradition of the "Educational Institute for the Science of Judaism" in Berlin and re-establish Jewish scholarship in Germany.

A year later, the Upper Council of the Israelites of Baden issued a memorandum in which Heidelberg was proposed as the seat of the institution and at the same time a cooperation with the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität. The Central Council of Jews in Germany took up the idea, but decided to set up a scientific course that was open to all interested parties beyond the confessional orientation.

Finally, in 1979, following a decision by the Central Council of Jews in Germany, the Heidelberg University for Jewish Studies was founded, initially with 16 students. Conceived as an academic institution, its declared aim - then as now - is to its Jewish and non-Jewish students "to convey the complexity and fascination of Judaism and to set academic accents". Two years after it was founded, state recognition followed and in 1995 the university was granted the right to award doctorates. In addition, she has been a member of the University Rectors' Conference since 2007 and was institutionally accredited by the Science Council in 2009. During the establishment in the 1980s, professors from other universities taught. Today the Heidelberg University for Jewish Studies has eleven professorships and just as many assistant positions. State rabbi Levinson judged with great bitterness in his 1996 memoirs about the College for Jewish Studies that it had become a "rabbinical seminary for Christians" and that at no time had any serious orientation towards rabbi training been successful.

It is the European competence center in its field and serves as a contact for politics, the media, churches and schools. Jewish studies are taught today in Heidelberg in a large number of sub-disciplines. These not only cover the core area of ​​Jewish studies, but also include art, politics, literatures, linguistics, religious studies and Middle East studies.

The university also offers intensive language training in all levels of Hebrew and allied languages, which is unique in Europe . The HfJS maintains scientific relationships with foreign universities in Israel, Austria and Sweden. It organizes scientific conferences and publishes a scientific journal, Trumah.

Endowed chairs

Ignatz Bubis Endowed Chair for the History, Religion and Culture of European Jewry

This chair was established in 2001 and deals with all facets of European Judaism from antiquity to the present day, including the diaspora of European communities overseas.

The focus is on phases of political, social and cultural transformation as well as on the various spiritual and religious movements that are so characteristic of the eventful course of Jewish history in Europe. In addition to the regular courses, lectures, workshops, conferences and other events are held regularly as part of the endowed professorship. The chair is also responsible for coordinating study programs with the Philosophical Faculty of the Ruperto Carolina.

The chair was established in 2001 and is dedicated to the memory of the long-time chairman of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Ignatz Bubis (1927–1999). The current professor is Johannes Heil .

Ben Gurion Endowed Chair for Israel and Middle East Studies

The endowed chair, financed by the state of Baden-Württemberg, deals in research and teaching with the state of Israel as part of the Middle East region. As a bridging professorship between the Heidelberg University for Jewish Studies and the University of Heidelberg, the range of courses offered by the chair is generally aimed at all students at the Heidelberg university location.

Further chairs at the HfJS

  • Bible and Jewish Bible interpretation
  • Talmud, Codices and Rabbinical Literature
  • History of the Jewish People
  • Hebrew Linguistics
  • Jewish philosophy and intellectual history
  • Jewish literatures
  • Jewish art
  • Jewish religious teaching, education and didactics

University Rabbinate

At the HfJS there is a university rabbi and a beth midrash , which gives the opportunity to lead a comprehensive Jewish life.


  • Bachelor courses
    • BA “Jewish Studies”, 75%, 50% or 25% possible, in combination with a subject at Heidelberg University
    • BA "Jewish Religious Studies" (teacher training option) compatible with teaching training courses at Heidelberg University
    • BA “Practical Jewish Studies”, 100%, prepares students for work in Jewish communities and institutions
  • Masters courses
    • MA “Jewish Studies”, consecutive after at least 50% BA Jewish Studies
    • MA “Jewish Studies - History of Jewish Cultures” as a joint degree with the Karl-Franzens-University Graz , non-consecutive
    • MA “Jewish Civilizations” in cooperation with the Paideia Institute in Stockholm, not consecutive
    • MA “Jüdische Museologie / Jewish Museology” not consecutive
    • MA “Heidelberg Middle Ages Master”, interdisciplinary course in association with the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg , not consecutive
    • MA "Ernst Robert Curtius for General and Comparative Literature" in association with the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg, not consecutive



Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Students at universities. Technical series 11 series 4.1 - final results - winter semester 2018/2019. Federal Statistical Office, accessed on August 3, 2019 (p. 31).
  2. Nathan Peter Levinson : A place is who you are with - life stages of a rabbi. Edition Hentrich 1996, Berlin, ISBN 389468206X ; Pp. 245-252. (accessed on May 8, 2017)

Coordinates: 49 ° 24 '36.1 "  N , 8 ° 42' 5.3"  E