Beyond Ashkenaz: Sephardim and other Jews

In the academic and public sphere, Jewish Studies are often dominated by Ashkenazic Studies. Our lecture series focuses on ”Sephardim and other Jews.” On the one hand, we discuss the past and present of Jews whose ancestors had been forcibly converted or expelled from the Iberian Peninsula between 1492 and 1498. On the other hand, we offer glimpses into the histories and cultures of Jews in Ethiopia, Iran, Morocco, Tunisia, Yemen, etc. with neither Ashkenazic nor Iberian ancestries. The lecture series is organized in cooperation with the Selma Stern Center for Jewish Studies.

The event will be held online on Zoom. Please contact infoselma-stern-zentrumde for meeting ID and password.

For further information, please visit the webpages of Selma Stern Zentrum für Jüdische Studien.


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Opening of the Summer Semester

Dear students, dear lecturers,

the School of Jewish Theology and the Institute of Jewish Studies and Religous Science cordially invite you to the opening of the semester on 28 April at 6 PM.
The opening lecture entitled "A Proto-Biblical Book Has Come to Light: What Does It All Mean?" will be given by Prof. Idan Dershowitz.

The event will be held online on Zoom. Please contact Dr. Ulrike Schneider ( for meeting ID and password.

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Informationen zur Lehre im Sommersemester 2021

Liebe Studierende der Jüdischen Studien und der Religionswissenschaft,

wir hoffen, dass Sie trotz der großen Herausforderungen, auch im privaten Bereich, das Wintersemester gut bewältigen konnten.

Aufgrund der aktuellen Situation wird es leider auch im anstehenden Sommersemester Einschränkungen im Lehrbetrieb sowie bei der Nutzung der Bibliotheken und weiterer universitärer Einrichtungen geben.

Die Raumkapazitäten an der Universität und die zu beachtenden Abstandsregelungen lassen leider nur einen kleinen Teil der Lehrveranstaltungen als Präsenzveranstaltungen zu. Der größere Teil der Lehrveranstaltungen, sowohl der Vorlesungen als auch der Seminare, wird wie auch im Wintersemester digital angeboten. Dabei werden in den Lehrveranstaltungen die vielfältigen technischen Möglichkeiten, wie Moodle, Videokonferenzen via Zoom, Diskussionsforen, intensiv genutzt, um über die Seminarinhalte mit Ihnen ins Gespräch zu kommen, aber auch eine Diskussion unter den Studierenden zu ermöglichen.

Das Vorlesungsverzeichnis für das Sommersemester ist seit dem 15. März über PULS zugänglich. Dort finden Sie auch Hinweise, wie die Veranstaltungen abgehalten werden.

Die Einschreibung für die Veranstaltungen ist bei PULS vom 6. April bis zum 9. Mai möglich, am 8. April erfolgt die erste Zulassung seitens der Dozent:innen. Die Vorlesungszeit beginnt am 12. April und endet am 23. Juli.

Wenn Sie Fragen zu den Lehrveranstaltungen und deren Ablauf haben, können Sie sich jederzeit gern auch vorab an die Dozentinnen und Dozenten per Mail wenden. Die Kontaktdaten finden Sie hier:

Die LehrveranstaltungsplanerInnen geben Ihnen ebenfalls gern Auskunft, für die Religionswissenschaft Dr. Stefan Gatzhammer; für die Jüdischen Studien Dr. Ulrike Schneider.

Weitere aktuelle Informationen zum Studium sind hier zusammengestellt:

Berücksichtigen Sie bitte auch die Anmelde-, Belegungs- und Rücktrittszeitraum für die Lehrveranstaltungen:

Wir freuen uns trotz der weiterhin ungewöhnlichen Ausgangsbedingungen auf das gemeinsame Semester mit Ihnen.

Mit herzlichen Grüßen und guten Wünschen zum Semesterstart

Die Dozentinnen und Dozenten des Instituts

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"Moses war nicht Nathan"

Prof. Schulte in talk with Jüdische Allgemeine on the German Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn.

(in German)

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Leschon ha-Kodesch
Source: private

"Leshon Haqodesh" - Hebrew as Jewish Holy Language

In the course of her habilitation, Dr. Dorothea Salzer gave a lecture on the topic "Leshon Haqodesh: The Emergence and Formation of Conceptions of Hebrew as Jewish Holy Language in Antiquity."

Starting with a remark of Gershom Scholem, who considered Hebrew "words which are filled to the breaking point with specific meaning", Dr. Salzer described the beginning of that process from different points of view: From the Late Antiquity, in Judaism Hebrew was regarded as means of Creation, as a proto- and as a revealed language. The results of this sanctification can be shown in the liturgy and poetry and negotiations of individual and group identities in various eras.

The following discussion focused on the relationship of Leshon Haqodesh and secular manifestations of Hebrew. The lecture ended with a Sektempfang on the stairs of the Communes at the Neues Palais in Potsdam.


Leschon ha-Kodesch
Source: private

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Wir stören

Professor Christoph Schulte on Jewish Study's historical and contemporary positions and contextualisations in times of racism and antisemitism; from Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, July 1 2020 (in German).

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Bild: Illustration aus der Handschrift Hagadah shel Pesah im perush Yad Yosef u-perush al pi ha-sod, SUB Hamburg Cod. Levy 22, den Link zum Digitalisat finden Sie im Judaica-Portal.
Image: Illustration from SUB Hamburg, Cod. Levy 22 (detail)
Photo: Illustration from the manuscript of Hagadah shel Pesah im perush Yad Yosef u-perush al pi ha-sod, Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Hamburg Carl von Ossietzky (SUB), Cod. Levy 22 (detail). You will find the link to the digitized version in the Judaica Portal.

New Release: Judaica Portal Berlin-Brandenburg goes beyond boundaries of the science region


The Judaica Portal Berlin-Brandenburg which was launched in 2017, is growing beyond its regional borders. With the new release, the holdings of the Institute for the History of German Jews, the Library of Jewish Scepticism - Library of the Maimonides Centre for Advanced Studies at the University of Hamburg, the Library of the Jewish Community Hamburg and the Judaica holdings of the State and University Library (SUB) Hamburg are listed together in the portal. They can also be accessed directly via facets in the portal interface.

When it was launched in 2017, the specialist holdings of 11 Berlin and Brandenburg libraries as well as the article index for Jewish Studies, RAMBI, of the National Library of Israel, became  searchable in the portal . Another novelty was the integration of a virtual Hebrew keyboard with the possibility to switch the direction of writing, which enables searching in the original script.

The portal has been continuously expanded since then. In 2018, the Digital Judaica Collection of the University Library Johann Christian Senckenberg in Frankfurt am Main was integrated, opening access to almost 50,000 digital copies. Since 2019, the Judaica holdings of the German Archaeological Institute, the Film University Babelsberg Konrad Wolf and the Joseph Wulf Mediothek (Haus der Wannsee-Konferenz) can also be searched via the portal.

The success of the portal is primarily due to the close cooperation between the Fachverbund Judaica (Berlin-Brandenburg), the Selma Stern Center for Jewish Studies Berlin-Brandenburg and the Cooperative Library Network Berlin-Brandenburg (KOBV). The Discovery Service ALBERT - Library Search Engine which was developed by the KOBV, meets the sometimes very specific requirements of Judaica subject collections, such as transliterated title information as well as the readability of original scripts and right-reading fonts. The technical solutions provided by the KOBV were also used for the fundamental advancement of the ALBERT system. The Judaica Portal is the first ALBERT instance to deduplicate data sets from heterogeneous sources and to use additional mechanisms for data preprocessing - parallel to the KOBV portal. Other specialized collections with particular requirements in terms of fonts and reading direction will also benefit from this further development.

By adding the Hamburg Judaica holdings, the portal is crossing its previous regional boundaries of listed library holdings. Apart from facilitating access in general, it gives scientists and all interested parties the possibility to gain insight into the Judaica holdings of the scientific landscape of Berlin-Brandenburg and Hamburg. The participation of further libraries with Judaica collections from German-speaking countries is planned and desired.


Text: Dr. Andreas Kennecke & Dr. Monika Schärtl

Translation: Bastian Wiesemann

Bild: Illustration aus der Handschrift Hagadah shel Pesah im perush Yad Yosef u-perush al pi ha-sod, SUB Hamburg Cod. Levy 22, den Link zum Digitalisat finden Sie im Judaica-Portal.
Image: Illustration from SUB Hamburg, Cod. Levy 22 (detail)
Photo: Illustration from the manuscript of Hagadah shel Pesah im perush Yad Yosef u-perush al pi ha-sod, Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Hamburg Carl von Ossietzky (SUB), Cod. Levy 22 (detail). You will find the link to the digitized version in the Judaica Portal.
Hörsaal (negativ)
Source: N. N.

Dear students,

Hard times ahead: the University administration are planning to increase the teaching workload for lecturers and readers on permanent posts by more than 100% from (now) 8 to (then) 18 teaching hours per week (THW). This is not only a massive imposition for the colleagues in question but will also affect your studies at our institute. For the projected increase would violate the minimal standards of academic teaching and is prone to reduce our – and  your – study programmes to some ‘light versions’ of their former selves.

University teaching at an adequate level of state-of-the-art conceptual quality requires intense research in the planning phase and extensive preparation and continuous reflection and evaluation during the teaching period. It is not for nothing that most of Germany’s federal states (incl. Berlin, Saxony and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern) restrict the teaching load for readers and lecturers to 8-10 THW, with 12 THW as the maximum in exceptional cases. Similarly, in their manual for university teachers the University of Vienna stipulates for every 90 minutes of seminar teaching load 4,5 hours of preparation and follow-up processing.

A teaching load of 18 THW would allow only for starkly schematic, didactically streamlined and thematically/conceptually superficial courses and for a high rerun frequency of the same seminars all over again, in effect leading to a set course curriculum that would disenable choice and specialization. Nor would such a teaching load leave adequate room for the individual supervision of seminar assignments or term papers, let alone BA or MA theses.

Should the administration plans fully materialize, due to that excessive number of teaching hours, colleagues would be forced to offer low-standard courses of poor or no academic stature whatsoever. Our institute would then cease to be an academic teaching institution at university level.

The Faculty Council of the UP’s Faculty of Arts has unanimously voted to defy the administration’s imposition and to refuse to advertise teaching posts with a workload of 18 THW. Moreover, in an open letter addressed to the government of the federal state of Brandenburg and to the university administration, the Faculty of Arts protests against the impending de-academisation of this university.

The Department of Jewish Studies and Religious Studies


What this means for you:

  • Standardised courses on endless repeat
  • No research-based teaching
  • No supervision for your papers & your BA and MA theses
  • No office hours, no individual consultations, no e-mail replies
  • A devaluation of your education!


Here you find the link to the petition „Bildung ist keine Massenware“ (Education is no mass merchandise)

Open Letter to the President of Potsdam University and the Ministry of Science, Research and Cultural Affairs of the Federal State of Brandenburg (MWFK)


Hörsaal (negativ)
Source: N. N.

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