Page 83 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

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MAIER /JUDAIC STUDIES IN THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF GERMANY
71
an understand ing and in terp re ta tion o f German literature
should be left to Germans (or “Aryans”).
Some Jewish groups also resisted the introduction of Judaic
studies in the universities, as did certain church groups and oth­
ers. Together, they all acted as obstacles to the introduction of
Judaic studies until well after World War II.
After the war, it was clear that there was a lack of academic
expertise regarding Judaism, but there were no practical solu­
tions. The Nazis had destroyed all of the institutions of Jewish
learning. The surviving representatives of these institutions lived
dispersed throughout the world, unwilling to return to postwar
Germany. Only reluctantly, some individuals agreed to accept
invitations for single lectures or for short official stays. This hap­
pened first at the University of Frankfurt.
Authorities of the Federal Republic, too, felt themselves to be
in a precarious position. They were clear on two goals. First, they
hoped to gain greater knowledge about Jews and Judaism as an
antidote to Nazi ideology. Second, they hoped to create a more
positive image of the new Germany and its relationship to Jews
and Judaism. To most officials, it seemed more effective and effi­
cient to organize public lectures by prominent Jewish guests from
abroad than to introduce an entirely new academic discipline into
the universities. The latter would take years of planning, the set­
ting up of libraries, and a great deal of patience until the first stu­
dents in the field graduated.
CHRISTIAN CONCERNS
From the start, the attempt by Christian scholars to reform and
reevaluate traditional Christian theological attitudes towards
Judaism influenced the formation of Judaic studies. The new
“Christian-Jewish dialog” needed not only information
about
Judaism, but a new and positive confrontation
with
Judaism.
What was missing were the Jewish partners able to represent
Judaism and to respond to Christian positions, both traditional
and modern. This religious orientation led to a revival of a theo­
logical monopoly over Judaic studies. Thus, the “Societies for
Christian-Jewish Cooperation” did not help the cause of inde­
pendent academic Judaic studies programs.
Academics remained ambivalent toward Jewish studies.
Although they wanted competent institutions to deal with Jewish