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Profil

What is the School’s mission?

Rabbi Walter Homolka, executive director

"Jewish theology should secure and demonstrate Judaism as a living religion within a pluralist German society where different faith groups form an integral part of public life and mutually contribute on many levels to the common good and general well-being of society."

Our Profile

The University of Potsdam houses the first and only Jewish Divinity School in Europe. The School of Jewish Theology was founded in the tradition of the Wissenschaft des Judentums in 2013.

When the Science of Judaism (Wissenschaft des Judentums) evolved at the beginning of the nineteenth century, its founders used theological and secular studies to show the importance of Jewish culture and civilization. Yet students had to wait until the 1960s to enrol to Judaic Studies in the public university system in Germany.

Judaic and Jewish Studies have since been established at a number of German universities and, in 2013, the School of Jewish Theology opened its doors at the University of Potsdam. 


The term ‘Jewish theology’ in the sense of an academic discipline, was first used in modern times by Abraham Geiger (1810-1874) who promoted the term programmatically. The background to his efforts was colored by the so-called Wissenschaft des Judentums movement, which itself was inspired by the earlier and more philosophical Haskala (Jewish Enlightenment).

What can or what must Jewish theology achieve today? Arthur Green (*1941), past president of Hebrew College Boston, tells us, ‘‘Each Jewish theology is a religious attempt to help the Jewish people understand the meaning of Jewish life and Jewish existence out of the store of texts, symbols, and historical experiences that are the shared inheritance of all Jews.’’

At the same time, Jewish theology, in all its heterogeneity, should reflect the plurality of positions and contexts that make up Judaism both today and throughout history.

With the founding of the School of Jewish Theology a vision became a reality. Using similar tools to different ends, both the religious and secular branches of the Science of Judaism, have become established parts of the German academic scene – the School of Jewish Theology at the University of Potsdam works closely with the university’s Institute of Jewish and Religious Studies.

What we offer

The School of Jewish Theology offers courses in the key areas of: Hebrew Bible and its Exegesis (biblical criticism and traditional Jewish exegesis); Rabbinical Literature (Mishnah, Talmud and Midrash); History; Liturgy; Philosophy and Halakha and also Hebrew (biblical and modern) and Aramaic, Religious Education, and Homiletics.

The School provides undergraduate and graduate studies to a wide variety of students: Jewish and non-Jewish; those seeking an academic career as well as those interested in working within or with the Jewish community in interreligious dialogue or with cultural projects; and of course, those interested in learning for its own sake.

Future progressive rabbis and cantors study with the School while simultaneously studying at the Abraham Geiger College, and future conservative rabbis study with us while being prepared for ordination at the Zacharias Frankel College.

Rabbi Walter Homolka, executive director

"Jewish theology should secure and demonstrate Judaism as a living religion within a pluralist German society where different faith groups form an integral part of public life and mutually contribute on many levels to the common good and general well-being of society."