Page 84 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

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studies, defining and organizing the field proved difficult. Fur­
ther, some feared that Judaic studies might be used for political
or religious purposes. Finally, the extremely difficult question of
how to attract experts in the field remained. Most thought that it
would be possible to find Jewish academics to head such depart­
ments, and indeed the first three chairs established for Jewish
studies at Frankfurt, Berlin, and Cologne were offered to Jewish
The task of these Jewish professors would have been, in the
first place, to serve as representatives o f “Judaistik” (Judaic stud­
ies), not of Judaism. However, such an abstraction — that is, such
a split between someone’s personal Jewish affiliation and their
scholarly function — was almost impossible after all that had hap­
pened in Germany, not to mention the religious emphasis of the
organizations encouraging the establishment of Judaic studies.
Some Jewish scholars tu rned down the pro ffered positions
because they were unwilling to be seen primarily as representa­
tives of Judaism and only secondarily as regular members of a
Other issues were also involved. Constitutionally, the religious
or ethnic affiliation of academic candidates could play no role in
their hiring. Nevertheless, many people were (and are) inclined
to concede this point in order to appoint only Jewish scholars as
professors of Jewish studies. Others believe that the violation of
constitutionally guaranteed rights can only cause more damage
in the long run. Up to 70% of the population — among Jews this
figure may be higher — would prefer Jewish professors in any
Finally, another issue was involved: the need for a clear distinc­
tion between the academic discipline of “Judaistik” (Judaic stud­
ies) and that of
Wissenschaft desJudentums,
or “Jewish studies” for
Jewish purposes. The demand for a special institution in postwar
Germany to represent the latter trend was finally met by the
establishment of the Hochschule fiir jiidische Studien (College
for Jewish Studies) in Heidelberg in 1979. Thus, a dual system
was set up: Judaic studies in three universities and Jewish studies
at the “Hochschule” of Heidelberg, an institution of the “Zen-
tralrat der Juden in Deutschland,” connected with the university
by special agreement.