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Berlin-Brandenburg Center for Jewish Studies Officially Opened

Cooperation Partners Hoping for Rapid Transfer of Research Results to Society

№ 140/2012 from May 30, 2012

The German Federal Minister for Education and Research, Prof. Dr. Annette Schavan, was present at the official opening of the Berlin-Brandenburg Center for Jewish Studies, a joint project of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Freie Universität Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin, Universität Potsdam, the Abraham Geiger Kolleg, and the Moses Mendelssohn Center for European-Jewish Studies. During the next five years it will receive 6.9 million euros from the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) earmarked for the promotion of young scholars and research in all fields of Jewish studies. The main office is located at Humboldt-Universität in Berlin-Mitte, Sophienstraße 22a, near Hackescher Markt.

The Berlin-Brandenburg Center for Jewish Studies facilitates the development of networks in transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches to history, philosophy, Jewish studies, theology, literature and music, art history, and ancient history; and it supports the training of young scholars in the field of Jewish studies, Judeo-Christian and Muslim-Jewish-Christian exchange, and museums and memorial sites. The Center will also be involved in the academic training of rabbis and cantors.

The Center clusters academic activities in studying and teaching Jewish studies and establishes relevant networks. The Center was established to meet recommendations made by the German Council of Science and Humanities in 2010 with regard to the further development of theology and scholarly studies on themes related to religion at German universities.

"The areas of research being developed include the history of the emergence of Jewish studies, Berlin as a location of Jewish emancipation, the trialogue between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – the so-called monotheistic triangle – as well as memory cultures, especially the testimony and memorial culture on the Shoah," said Christina von Braun, a cultural theorist from Humboldt-Universität and the academic director of the Center.

Among the various partners in the Berlin/Potsdam region, there are excellent prerequisites for successful interdisciplinary collaborations and dialogue between cultures and religions. All the concerned areas are represented, from specific theological and historical fields of research in Judaic and Christian theologies (Humboldt-Universität and Freie Universität Berlin), to the cultures of Islam (Technische Universität Berlin and Freie Universität Berlin), anthropological and cultural research (Humboldt-Universität and Freie Universität Berlin), and scholarly religious studies as well as Jewish theology included in academic rabbi training (Universität Potsdam).

The Center will focus on providing support for the next generation of scholars during the doctoral and postdoctoral phases. Three new positions for junior professors are being set up (one each at Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität, and Universität Potsdam) as well as five postdoctoral positions and nine for doctoral researchers. International exchange and cooperation with researchers and scholars from abroad will be facilitated by inviting visiting professors and fellows, particularly from the United States, Israel, Great Britain, France, and the CIS countries. The establishment of a common interdisciplinary graduate school concluding with a doctoral degree is being planned.

The rabbinical training currently provided jointly by Universität Potsdam and the Abraham Geiger Kolleg will be augmented by a professor of Jewish biblical exegesis. Additional support will come from The Liszt School of Music Weimar in the form of a professor of Jewish music with an emphasis on synagogal music and cantor education.

According to Christina von Braun, “With these latest efforts the scholars involved in the Berlin-Brandenburg Center for Jewish Studies are in sync with current global trends in which religion is studied from a denominational point of view while also being viewed as one cultural form among others. The Center aims to link an external academic view of religious studies with self-reflection from within the fields of religious studies and theological education.”

Further Information

Prof. Dr. Christina von Braun, Berlin-Brandenburg Center for Jewish Studies, Sophienstraße 22a, 10178 Berlin, Fax: +49 (0)30 2093-66325, Email: zentrum-juedische-studien@hu-berlin.de, www.zentrum-juedische-studien.de