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CENTER OF JEWISH STUDIES
AT THE HUNGARIAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCES

Introduction

The Center of Jewish Studies at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences was established by the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture (New York) in 1987 as a teaching and scholarly research institution, with Prof. Géza Komoróczy as its head. At the time, the main goal of the Center was to pursue researches in Jewish culture, history (with a special respect to the history of Jews in Hungary) and tradition (including Bible and rabbinics). On the one hand, we wanted to establish Jewish Studies on an academic (university) level, as a university major, which had not existed in Hungary ever before, and on the other hand, to combine university teaching with research.

Masters in Jewish Studies

In a joint program with the Department of Cuneiform (Assyriology) and Hebrew, the Center introduced a Jewish Studies major at the Philosophical faculty of the Eötvös Loránd University of Budapest in 1989. The Jewish Studies major, fitting into the current university system of Hungary, is - for the time being - designed for 10 semesters, resulting in an MA degree. The ten semesters consist of three major phases: Bible studies, Rabbinical studies and specialization, for which students can chose either Bible Studies or Jewish Studies.

In course of their studies, all students acquire strong language skills. They are required to study Classical (Biblical) Hebrew (Hebraicum magnum), Rabbinical Hebrew, Modern (Israeli) Hebrew, Aramaic and - depending on their specialization - they are to chose further one or more relevant language, like Yiddish, Judeo-Arabic, Classical Greek, Latin, Akkadian, Ugaritic, Syriac, etc.

Besides the language classes, there are mandatory text reading courses (in Bible, Mishna, Talmud, Rashi, Maimonides, responsa literature, sources of Jewish history, literature, etc.), classes on Hungarian and world Jewish history (ancient, medieval and modern alike), Yidishkeit (customs, ritual, folklore, etc.), Holocaust, etc.

By the time of receiving MA degree, students have to prove their knowledge of the whole Tanakh in the original, of chapters from the Mishna, Talmud, Tosephta, Rashi, Maimonides, etc., of Jewish tradition and history, and have to pass a Modern Hebrew exam on level gimel (at least) according to the Hebrew University (Jerusalem) Ulpan grading system.

During the last more than fifteen years, since the degree program for Jewish Studies was established, we have had about 10 to 25 students enrolled yearly. So far, we have issued over 40 MA degrees, which means that approximately 2-4 students finish each year. The rest of the students choose to attend only some of the classes, or are studying part-time. Several students of ours have held or currently hold research scholarships abroad.

All the MA theses submitted to our department have been based on, or have made extensive use of Hebrew texts.

* A full list of theses submitted to the department, or submitted by our students to other departments and universities, is available here.

PhD in Jewish Studies

Since the fall semester of 2003/2004 the Department of Assyriology and Hebrew offers also PhD degree programs, currently there are three students enrolled.

Research and Publications

Parallel to the teaching, the Center of Jewish Studies at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences wanted to pursue serious research in Jewish history, focusing on aspects of Hungarian Jewish history, especially those that have been neglected until now or those that require an institutional background.

As a result of research done at our Center, with the support of our Center or by colleagues of our Center, we have two series of publications: a book series, called * Hungaria Judaica, with 17 volumes so far, and * an offprint journal (pamphlet series) with 15 titles to date. In both series there are further titles under preparation.

Among the most important items in these series are a directory to the Jewish holdings in Hungarian archives (2 volumes); a bibliography of Hungarian Jewish newspapers and journals in Hungary; a bibliography of Hebrew grammars and teaching aids published in Hungary (1635-1995); Jewish Budapest (a two-volume study on the history, culture, customs of Jews in Budapest from the Middle ages until the 1990s, with two editions in Hungarian and an edition in English); the conscription of Jewish communities in Hungary in April, 1944 (containing the data from a census organized by the Central Council of Hungarian Jews on the order of German authorities); memoirs of Lajos Szabolcsi (the editor of the Egyenlőség, a Jewish weekly, 1882-1938); Orthodox rabbis in Hungary perished in the Holocaust (short biographies with titles of their books, etc.) (in German); Hebrew sources relating to the history of Hungary and Hungarian Jewry in the Middle Ages (from the beginnings until 1686, an edition of ca. 400 texts and excerpts in Hebrew and Yiddish, with Hungarian translations, introductions, commentary, indices, etc., including a résumé in Hebrew and English; a study on Béla Bartók's Jewish connections; a study on the yeshivot in Hungary in the 19th-20th century; collected papers on the history of Jewish music by Bence Szabolcsi (1899-1973); Hungarian translation of the Pirkei avot / "Sayings of the Fathers" by Simon Péchi from the year 1620; a study on the Jewish schools in Hungary, 1780-1850, based on Hebrew sources.

* For a full bibliography of the Hungaria Judaica series, click here.
* For a full bibliography of the pamphlet series Értesítő, click here.

To find out whether a certain item is still available, and for information on how to order an item, please contact Ms. Éva Szili.

Faculty and Staff

As far as full-time faculty and staff, the Center of Jewish Studies at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences is a rather small institution. Its director is appointed by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. It has five further full-time employees, and has contracts with further people for certain specific projects.

The teaching (courses, classes, exams, thesis-supervision) is done under the auspices of the Eötvös Loránd University, and the degrees are issued by the University, too. The actual teaching is undertaken by the faculty and staff of the Center of Jewish Studies and of the Department of Assyriology and Hebrew at the Eötvös Loránd University, and also by part-time or visiting lecturers and teachers invited by the Center.

Funding

Both research and teaching at the Center of Jewish Studies is maintained from the budgetary means of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Research Institute of Ethnic and National Minorities. Overhead expenses are covered by the Eötvös Loránd University.

During the years 1988-2005 the Center of Jewish Studies received substantial special grants for research and publication from the following institutions:

Memorial Foundation for Jewish Civilization (New York) (1987-1995)
Soros Foundation (New-York - Budapest) (1989-1997)
Hanadiv Foundation, Academic Jewish Studies in Europe Grant Programme (London) (2004/05)
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American Joint Distribution Committee, Budapest Office(1993)
Bankartis Alapítvány (Kereskedelmi Bank Rt.) (Budapest) (1994)
Budapest, VII. kerület (Erzsébetváros), Polgármesteri Hivatal (1994)
Humanitas Civitatis Alapítvány, Fővárosi Közgyűlés Kisebbségi, emberi jogi és vallásügyi bizottsága (Budapest) (1994)
Institute for the Memory of the Hungarian Jewry (Bnei-Brak, Israel) (1998)
Inter-Európa Bank Rt. (Budapest) (1994)
Magyar Hitel Bank Rt. (Budapest) (1994)
Magyar Könyv Alapítvány (Budapest) (1992)
Magyarországi Zsidó Hitközségek Szövetsége (Budapest) (1993)
Magyarországi Zsidó Örökség Közalapítvány (Budapest) (1998)
MTA Akadémiai Kutatási Pályázat (Budapest) (1998-1999)
Művelődési és Közoktatási Minisztérium: Felsőoktatási Kutatási és Fejlesztési Pályázat (1997) (Budapest)
Nemzeti Kulturális Örökség Minisztériuma (Budapest) (1999)
Országos Kiemelésű Társadalomtudományi Kutatások (OKTK) Közalapítvány (1998-1999) (Budapest)
Országos Takarékpénztár és Kereskedelmi Bank Rt. (Budapest) (1994)
Országos Takarékpénztár, Fáy András Alapítvány (Budapest) (1994)
Országos Tudományos Kutatási Alap (OTKA) (Budapest) (1991-1994, 1999)
Österreichisches Kulturinstitut (Budapest) (1993)
Pro Renovanda Cultura Hungariae Alapítvány (Budapest) (1998)
Rosenfeld Foundation (Cleveland, Ohio) (1992)
Rosenfeld Project on the History of Hungarian and Habsburg Jewry at the Hebrew University (Jerusalem) (1993)
Szerencsejáték Rt. (Budapest) (1993)
The Carl and Helen Klein Chair for the History of the Rabbinate in Europe during the Modern Period (Ramat-Gan, Israel) (1998)
The Committee for the Advancement of Research of Bar-Ilan University (Ramat-Gan, Israel) (1998-2002)
Verein KulturKontakt des Bundesministeriums für Unterricht und Kunst (Wien) (1993)

Library

The library is a research and study library owned and run by the Center of Jewish Studies in close cooperation with the Department of Cuneiform (Assyriology) and Hebrew (Jewish Studies) at the Eötvös Loránd University. It is accommodated in rooms joined to the offices and classroom(s) of the above.

Currently there are above 16,000 items in the collection of the library. The main areas of interest covered are Jewish Studies from ancient times to the present (history, philology, culture), Bible Studies (philology, commentaries, history), Ancient Near Eastern Studies, Yiddish Studies.

It is a read-in only library. Faculty and advanced students can access the library unrestricted, otherwise students and readers at large can use the library during the library hours under supervision.

* The books are available on free shelves, the shelf register can be downloaded here. (762 KB).

* The library catalogue can be accessed here