|Kollegium Jüdische Studien –
Jewish Studies at Humboldt UniversityGerman Version
Kollegium Juedische Studien [Jewish Studies Program] is a network of scholars interested in Jewish life in Germany and the interdependence of Jewish and non-Jewish culture. Berlin and Prussia are the focal point of study as a center of the Jewish enlightenment/haskalah since the late 18th century; the investigations of KJS shall also include the current situation in Berlin and Germany. Names like Moses Mendelssohn, David Friedlaender and Eduard Gans and their demands for equal rights and civil liberties were the starting point for a new Jewish identity culminating academically in "Wissenschaft des Judentums" which reached far beyond the borders of Germany. Jewish women such as Rahel Levin-Varnhagen, Fanny Lewald and Hedwig Dohm contributed to the development of a new emancipated women's identity in Germany. Berlin was the German center of a new intellectual, political and academic culture which manifested itself, for example, in the Mosse and Ullstein publishing houses as in the works of Walter Rathenau, Walter Benjamin, Albert Einstein, Magnus Hirschfeld and Georg Simmel or Lise Meitner, Alice Salomon, Jenny Hirsch, Rosa Luxemburg, Else Lasker-Schueler, Mascha Kaleko and Gertrud Kolmar.
The question, what role Jews played in the social and cultural life of Berlin since the 19th century, is of growing interest. Kollegium Juedische Studien has the objective to study the time when Christian-German and Jewish-German traditions confronted each other, inter-acted and came to mutual fruition. The shoah will not and cannot be excluded, but the Kollegium Juedische Studien wants to focus on what kept the German-Jewish context going: the contradictory cultural experiences and reciprocal competing appropriation and approximation of urban and regional cultures. The influx of Jews from the Eastern parts of Germany and Eastern Europe and their influence on the process of modernization is, for example, a topic that deserves further scrutiny and investigation. During the 19th and early 20th century, Berlin and Prussia were important places of these encounters, and the same is true again today. Berlin is therefore the proper place for such an examination.
The Kollegium Juedische Studien (KJS) was founded in 2009, organized across disciplines and connected to the Institute for Cultural Studies. It is headed by Professor Dr. Christina von Braun and Professor Dr. Julius H. Schoeps. As a research institute KJS is devoted to scholarly study of topics in Jewish culture, philosophy and history in Germany with focus on the documentation of history and culture of Berlin Jewry. It is also aiming at networking scholars and academic institutions in the Berlin-Brandenburg region that are involved in the study of Jews in Berlin and Prussia. In addition, KJS offers courses, lecture series, conferences as well as graduate studies in a structured and cross-disciplined way in order to give more academic emphasis to this field of inquiry.