Page 85 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

Basic HTML Version

Given the circumstances described above, it was not surprising
that the first initiative for Judaic studies came from outside the
Federal Republic. The first academic teacher of Judaic studies
within a university setting was Prof. Kurt Schubert in Vienna. At
first he represented the new discipline while still a member of the
Institute for Oriental Studies at Vienna. He succeeded in making
Judaic studies a fully acknowledged discipline with its own insti­
tute and library not only in Austria, but also in Frankfurt/Main,
Berlin (the Free University) and Cologne. In Berlin, Prof. Jacob
Taubes began his tenure in 1963. Since he only spent every sec­
ond semester there in the initial years, and divided his time
between Judaic studies and the departm en t o f philosophy,
Judaic studies suffered a double handicap. Health problems
forced him to retire in 1983 and he was replaced by Peter Schafer
from Cologne. In 1966, the Martin Buber Institut fur Judaistik at
the University of Cologne was established. Frankfurt was the last
of the three institutions to introduce Judaic studies because a per­
manent professor was unavailable until 1970 when Arnold M.
Goldberg was appointed.
A good deal o f unease and uncertainty surrounded the estab­
lishment of these programs. It was not clear how to build up
either an appropriate library or a staff. Initially, German univer­
sities had no curricula and no formal definitions of their disci­
plines. Judaic studies required defining by their new representa­
tives. For Cologne a
(curriculum regulation) was
formally adopted by the responsible ministry of the state of
Nordrhein Westfalen. Concurrently in January 1966, an article
about the new discipline appeared in the newsletter of the Ger­
man Coordinating Committee of the Society for Christian-Jewish
Cooperation. Reactions to the proposed program ranged from
critical to skeptical. Some theologians believed that teaching and
doing research about Judaism up to modern times was unneces­
sary. Those who supported the new Christian dialog thought that
the philological conditions were too strict and that the theological
applicability was too undefined.
O thers hoped that such a p rogram ’s achievements would
quickly benefit the public image of a new, philo-Semitic
Germany. Obviously, these expectations met with disappoint­
ment. Founding an institute meant, first of all, building up a