Research Unit Law

Studies on the Material and Intellectual Heritage of the »Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums«

This research project centers around the Hochschule’s scholars and students. Main characteristics of the school are its liberal constitution and reform outlook, its function as a center of the Wissenschaft des Judentums (science of judaism) and its desire to understand Jewish tradition beyond the meaning of revelation. The school incorporated critical-historical methods prevalent in German 19th Century intellectual life and united a large number of exceptional scholars from various disciplines: From the founders of Völkerpsychologie (Moritz Lazarus, Heymann Steinthal), to historians (David Neumark, Selma Stern, Eugen Täubler), social scientists (Franz Oppenheimer, Paul Eppstein) and notable philosophers of religion (Ismar Elbogen, Leo Baeck, Max Wiener, Emil Fackenheim). Special consideration will be given to the end and to the legacy of the institution: Is it fair to assume the continuing existence of the spirit of the school, even after its protracted forced closure 1933-1942? Can we assume a unified character or a habitual mode of thought for this institution? The aim is to reconstruct the displacement of the intellect through the sensual-material reality and from archival sources. In a larger perspective, the history of the Hochschule coincides with the growth and subsequent decay of German Wissenschaft.