First joint Israel-German Israel studies program launched

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and the Heidelberg College for Jewish Studies in Germany have launched the first joint Israel-Germany academic program in Israel studies, with a specialization in modern Jewish life and culture.

“In 2014, we will mark 50 years since the resumption of diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany,” said Dr. Paula Kabalo, director of BGU’s Ben-Gurion Research Institute for the Study of Israel and Zionism and the Israel Studies International Program. “There is a lot of symbolism in the fact that the university that bears David Ben-Gurion’s name is establishing the first bilateral degree program between Israel and Germany.”

The program, open to Israeli and German students, will be conducted at both Heidelberg and BGU’s Sde Boker campus, which is home to the Ben-Gurion Research Institute for the Study of Israel and Zionism. The Institute is devoted to the study, documentation and research of the Zionist movement and the history of Israel. Established in 1982 under a special agreement between BGU and the Ben-Gurion Heritage Institute, the Institute has broad research horizons and a strong interdisciplinary nature.

Heidelberg College for Jewish Studies (Hochschule fur Judische Studien-HfJS) offers a wide range of Jewish study courses and has become the leading center of Jewish scholarship in Germany. In addition to the classic Judaic texts, such as the Bible and Talmud, students can study Jewish history, art, literature, and philosophy, as well as languages such as Hebrew, Aramaic and Yiddish.

The HfJS views itself as the successor of the great institutions of Jewish scholarship that existed in Germany in the years before the Second World War, in particular, the College of the Science of Judaism in Berlin. Since their instructors all emigrated or perished in the Holocaust, this renewal of Jewish learning was made possible by importing scholars from America, Israel and other regions.

“This is not just another degree program, but a groundbreaking agreement between two institutions that are dedicated to the research and understanding of Israel — past, present and future,” explained Doron Krakow, executive vice president, American Associates, Ben Gurion University of the Negev. The Hochschule für Jüdische Studien (HfJS), Heidelberg was founded in 1979. It is supported by the Central Consistory of the Jews in Germany and is financed through the local and federal government.

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (AABGU) has some 20,000 students on campuses in Beersheva, Sde Boker and Eilat in Israel’s southern desert. It is headquartered in Manhattan and has nine regional offices throughout the United States.

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