4 5

The Prague Jewish Studies program aims to develop and highlight the contribution of the Jewish culture and education, which has been always an integral part of the local intellectual and academic environment. 

City of Prague - "City and a Mother in Israel"

In the 16th and 17th century, Prague belonged to the most famous Jewish intellectual centers of Europe. The fame of the city in the Jewish world was expressed by its epithetic title "ir va'em be'yisrael - עיר ואם בישראל" - literally, a city and a mother in Israel. Prague became the ideal capital for the Ashkenazi Diaspora.

However, Prague became the center of Jewish learning since the 12th century with its remarkable school of tosafists represented by renowned Talmudists Abraham ben Azriel and Isaac ben Moshe. Great rabbinic scholars such as Maharal, David Gans and Yom-Tov Lipmann Heller could follow up with this impressive knowledge background, as also many other Talmudists did.

The Jewish thought has a long tradition on the Prague University as well. The Hebrew philology and rabbinic literature has been established as a separate discipline in 1849. In 1876 was founded the university Association of Czech-Jewish academics, Czech-speaking Jewish students, who argued with Zionism in a spirit of the motto "My Zion is Prague”.

And it was in an important Prague Zionist student club Bar Kochba, where one of the most influential modern Jewish philosophers Martin Buber gave for the first time, in 1909, his “Three Speeches on Judaism”. Among the Buber’s listeners were other Prague prominent intellectuals such as Franz Kafka, Max Brod and Samuel Hugo Bergmann who later became the chancellor of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.