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In Jewish Studies we explore and teach the 3000-year history of Judaism, past and present. This study encompasses the diverse religious, cultural, economic and social interrelations and the developments of Jews throughout history.
Given this breadth and variety, Jewish Studies are pluri- and interdisciplinary studies. Scholars from history, religious studies, philosophy, literary- and cultural studies draw from their research and teaching on the methods of their respective academic discipline. All are united, however, by their common subject matter: Judaism.
Jewish Studies as an academic subject are thus at one methodically with the great tradition of learning and knowledge in the Judaism of the 19th and 20th century, which for the first time dedicated itself to the critical, unbiased, religiously and ideologically neutral research not only of the Jewish religion, but of the entire history and everyday world of Jews.
This orientation to the history, languages, cultures and life worlds of Jews -- both this side of and beyond religion -- distinguishes the approach and perspective Jewish Studies from Jewish theology, oriented as it is on rabbinic and cantor education and thus focused on rabbinic traditions, teachings and religious texts. This orientation also distinguishes Jewish Studies from certain approaches in Judaic studies that consider the research of Judaism primarily to mean the philology of rabbinic, Hebrew or Aramaic texts, or the religious history of rabbinic Judaism.
Twenty years ago, in the winter semester of 1994/95, the University of Potsdam established at the Faculty of Philosophy the interdisciplinary course of study “Jüdische Studien/Jewish Studies”. Since then, Jewish Studies have developed in their research and teaching into a nationally and internationally renowned and high-profile section of the university where professors and guest professors from Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, Switzerland and the USA attend and teach.
Students can complete their Jewish Studies in Potsdam with a BA or MA degree, or with a doctorate.
With about 40 courses each semester, Jewish Studies offer many different courses on history, religion, politics, philosophy, music, art, forms of life, culture and literatures of Judaism. This variety of courses and the some 150 students, Potsdam is one of the biggest university institutions of Jewish studies in the European Union.
Go to the jubilee workshop Jüdische Studien für das 21. Jahrhundert (“Jewish Studies for the 21th Century”) in Oct. 2014.