The Institute of Jewish Studies was the first Polish university to offer (from the academic year of 2012/2013) a BA and MA in Jewish Studies (Judaistyka). Students may also continue their education by taking a PhD delivered formally by the Faculty of History; however, supervision over the doctoral theses and practical work is exercised by the academic staff of the Institute of Jewish Studies.
The BA covers the history of Jews from ancient times until the 20th century, Jewish religion, philosophy and literature, Jewish material culture and Jewish folklore. Thanks to the language courses delivered from elementary to intermediate levels, students have the opportunity to study both Yiddish and Hebrew.
The knowledge and skills gained during these studies prepare students for professional work in various institutions which focus on Jewish history, culture, and heritage. These include, most importantly, museums, archives, libraries, institutions of education and culture, publishing houses, tourist agencies, public administration bodies, foundations and associations. Language skills open career opportunities for graduates in business and diplomacy.
The MA in Jewish Studies is addressed to graduates of BA degree in Jewish Studies as well as other persons interested in the subject, holding at least a BA. The MA syllabus covers Jewish history and culture, including the history of anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. Students also learn about the role of Jews in 20th century Polish cultural life, the development of contemporary trends in Judaism, and elements of Jewish culture. A separate module is devoted to the teaching of Jewish languages (Yiddish and Hebrew) at two levels – elementary and intermediate.
Graduates of the MA have extensive knowledge and qualifications in the field which enable them, for instance, to undertake research work or PhD studies. A graduate is well-prepared to work in museum and archive institutions, as well as in libraries featuring Jewish collections, at publishing houses, as well as at cultural and educational institutions, dealing with Jewish issues. Graduates have the requisite skills that are valued on the labor market, including business and institutions engaged in international cooperation.
Since the beginning of the teaching program, the Institute of Jewish Studies has had over one thousand students. Today, they work in various places in Poland and abroad. Many hold prominent positions in institutions promoting the history and culture of Jews or teach at universities.
Since 2018, as part of a program of the Faculty of History for promoting quality, the most outstanding students of the Institute of Jewish Studies take part in study visits to Israel. During these visits students not only have the opportunity to see the country, but – most importantly – to become acquainted with the archives and libraries in Israel, to meet Israeli researchers in person, and to use the Hebrew language learned during their studies in practice.
The Institute awards the annual Schenker Prize for the best BA and MA theses dealing with the heritage of Polish Jews defended at the Jagiellonian University.
The Institute of Jewish Studies has sustained a years-long cooperation with the Jagiellonian University of the Third Age, offering over 150 seniors the chance to broaden their knowledge in the field of Jewish history and culture.
The Students’ Scholarly Association of the Institute of Jewish Studies was established in 2001 (as the Students’ Scholarly Association of the Chair in Jewish Studies). It engages in promoting Jewish culture and history among students, enhancing their knowledge on the subject. To date, the Students’ Scholarly Association of the Institute of Jewish Studies has organized numerous study and research trips, both in Poland and abroad. Students have visited, among others, Germany, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, and Belarus. Moreover, the Students’ Scholarly Association of the Institute of Jewish Studies has organized numerous meetings with scholars and witnesses to history, as well as with groups of foreign students and international visitors. The Students’ Scholarly Association of the Institute of Jewish Studies was the organizer of Krakow Jewish Studies Conferences (2012, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2022) featuring the research of young academics – mainly from Poland – specializing in Jewish Studies, and a co-organizer of other events aimed at integrating young researchers.
Since its beginnings, the Students’ Scholarly Association of the Institute of Jewish Studies has published a periodical entitled Ha-Zamir/Słowik, featuring students’ papers, essays, reports and reviews, as well as the proceedings of the conferences organized and co-organized by the Association. In 2008, the first volume of a series entitled Biblioteka Słowika [Słowik’s Library] was published, containing materials from the students’ academic conference Sephardic Aspects of the Jewish World. Currently, the student journal is published under the new title of Judaista.
The Institute of Jewish Studies hosts a Hanukkah/Christmas meeting every year which is organized by the Students’ Scholarly Association of the Institute of Jewish Studies. It is not only attended by the students themselves, but also academic and administration staff, and representatives of Krakow’s Jewish religious community.
From its inception, the activities of the Students’ Scholarly Association of the Institute of Jewish Studies were supervised by Prof. Stefan Gąsiorowski, it is now coordinated by Dr Ewa Węgrzyn.