The Institute of Jewish Studies at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow is currently one of Europe’s leading academic centers for Jewish studies. Established in 1986, it is the oldest institution of its kind in post-war Poland and has welcomed over one thousand students since its inception.
The Institute of Jewish Studies is divided into three units:
- Department of Jewish Culture [Zakład Kultury Żydów] managed by Dr hab. Leszek Hońdo
- Department of Jewish History [Zakład Historii Żydów] managed by Prof. dr hab. Adam Kaźmierczyk
- Department of History of Judaism and Jewish Literatures [Zakład Historii Judaizmu i Literatur Żydowskich] managed by Dr hab. Michał Galas, Prof. UJ
Other entities comprising the Institute include:
- Centre for the Study on the History and Culture of Krakow's Jews, functioning within the Faculty of History, managed by Dr Alicja Maślak-Maciejewska
- The Marcell and Maria Roth Center for the Research on the History and Culture of Polish Jewry and Polish-Jewish Relations, established in 2014 and managed by Dr hab. Michał Galas, Prof. UJ
- The Herzl-Thon Center for Israel Studies and Polish-Israeli Relations in Krakow, established in 2018 and managed by Dr Ewa Węgrzyn.
The Institute of Jewish Studies is located in the heart of the old Jewish quarter of Kazimierz, today one of the most vibrant districts in Krakow. Thanks to this unique location, the students and employees of the Institute are not only in close proximity to the monuments and buildings which comprise Krakow’s Jewish cultural legacy, but they can also take part in the revival of Jewish life in Kazimierz.
The Institute now offers a complete program of BA and MA degrees covering Jewish history, culture, and religion from ancient to modern times as well as the tuition of Jewish languages at different levels.
The Institute’s faculty members conduct a tremendous variety of scholarly projects, ranging from the history of ancient Palestine, studies in Jewish self-government in Poland, Jewish epigraphy, medicine and folklore, Yiddish and Hebrew literature, history of Jews in Galicia and Krakow, history of Judaism, Karaite studies, to Holocaust studies and post-war history.
The Institute of Jewish Studies not only cooperates with numerous universities and research centers but also cultural and educational institutions, both locally and abroad. Among the Polish institutions which are particularly important for the Institute’s educational and academic activities are the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences (Polska Akademia Umiejętności), the Polish Academy of Sciences (Polska Akademia Nauk), the Jewish Historical Institute (Żydowski Instytut Historyczny), Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, the Museum of Kraków, the Galicia Jewish Museum, the Jewish Religious Community of Kraków, the Jewish Community Center (JCC Krakow), the Krakow Association of Christians and Jews, the Jewish Culture Festival in Kraków, and Austeria Publishing House.
In July 2018, together with the European Association for Jewish Studies, the Institute for Jewish Studies organized the former’s 11th international congress in Krakow. Entitled “Searching for Roots of Jewish Tradition”, it was attended by over two thousand researchers from all over the world.
As part of its international cooperation projects, the Institute of Jewish Studies maintains academic relations with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Tel Aviv University, University College London, the University of Potsdam, the Leiden University and the Vilnius University, as well as with diplomatic centers and compatriot associations, including the Embassy of Israel in Warsaw, the US Consulate General in Kraków, and the Association of Cracovians in Israel. Moreover, the Institute of Jewish Studies is a partner in numerous bilateral international cooperation agreements, also under the Erasmus+ (former Erasmus Socrates) and Erasmus+ Partnership Countries programmes. Within the project, students and academic staff have the opportunity to expand their skills and knowledge at various universities in Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, the Czech Republic, France, Lithuania, and Israel.
In 2018 the annual Chone Shmeruk and Józef A. Gierowski Prize for the best scientific book in the field of the history and culture of Jews in Poland was established, as part of an initiative by the academic circles related to the Institute of Jewish Studies at the Jagiellonian University and the Maria Curie-Sklodowska University in Lublin. The Prize is financially supported by the Marcell and Maria Roth Center for the Research on the History and Culture of Polish Jewry and Polish-Jewish Relations.