Page 86 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

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74
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
library. For this task, it was necessary to convince governmental
authorities that Jews were (and are) the people of the book — and
that this notion went well beyond the Bible, Maimonides,
Mendelssohn and Buber. In order to ensure the future o f the dis­
cipline, it was argued, a considerable financial outlay and at least
ten years of preliminary work would be necessary. It was even
more difficult to convince people that immediate publicity would
not be to the advantage of the new field, but that quiet, steady
work towards having the field accepted in the academic commu­
nity would be far more useful. In short, education and scholarly
training required time, even generations. In the end, however,
they would be a more effective means of generating a new atti­
tude toward Judaism than any short term spectacular activities or
propagandistic meetings. In fact, if the new field was not prop­
erly introduced, and if it was seen as a kind of apology, it would be
irreparably harmed during its critical intitial stage in the aca­
demic community.
ACCEPTABLE APPROACH
The approach that was finally adopted involved a compromise
between the ideal model, as was then represented by Jewish stud­
ies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and the requirements
of central European university systems. In Europe students had
to study three disciplines, one as their main subject and two oth­
ers as secondary subjects. In contrast to Jerusalem, where Jewish
studies included a group o f d ifferen t disciplines, European
Judaic studies (Judaistik) had to be defined so as to be studies in
the threefold combination referred to above. Thus, the curricu­
lum provided that every student who chose to study Jewish his­
tory had to take general history as an obligatory secondary disci­
pline; students who chose a philological track (Hebraic or Ara­
maic studies) would combine that with a program in Oriental
studies. The same applied to Jewish philosophy or the history of
Judaism, which required an obligatory secondary discipline in
philosophy or the history of religions. After a two-year basic cur­
riculum (
Grundstudium
) with an emphasis on philological studies
each student could choose a specific era or field of Judaic studies
in which to specialize.
The main problem for the Martin Buber Institu te was to
organize the necessary courses with but one professor, who also