Annual Report on the Activities of the Prague Centre for Jewish Studies 2012


The Prague Centre for Jewish Studies was established at the Charles University Faculty of Arts on 15 January 2012 and the opening ceremony took place on 29 April in the historic Carolinum 
building. The Centre came under the auspices of Ing. Jan Fischer and on 30 April a collaboration agreement was concluded between the Charles University Faculty of Arts in Prague and the Jewish Museum in Prague.

The Centre provides an inter-disciplinary platform for the study of topics relating to Jewish peoplein the  fields of history, literature, philosophy, language and culture. The Centre concentrates on the specifics  of the Central-Eastern European region with special regard to the cultural memory of the city of Prague. The Centre thus creates space for the integration of teaching and research actvities relating to Jewish Studies and can be seen as the culmination of continuous support for such 
activities on the part of the Faculty of Arts.

The Prague Centre for Jewish Studies aims to coordinate academic collaboration and exchange in the field of Jewish Studies at the Czech and international level. Besides strictly academic activities it also serves the broader public.

Promotion and web pages:To promote its activities PCJS makes use of printed materials and web pages in both Czech and English http://pcjs.ff.cunLcz/en/about. Centre activities can also be followed 
on Facebook:

PR and media:Last year information on PCJS activities appeared inter alia in the following media: CT24 (State TV); Czech Radio; FFAKT; Forum magazine; A2 fortnightly; Zidovske listy; Ros Hodes Maskil; Judaica Bohemiae; Foundation for Holocaust Victims -lnfoBulietin.

Fundraising: During the first year we succeeded in obtaining financial support from the Foundation for  Holocaust Victims and from Kolektory Praha, a. s.

Accreditations:This year the Institute of Czech History was awarded Master’s degree course accreditation  for the ‘Modern History of Jews in Central Europe’ module with continuing doctoral studies, which will be open in the 2013/2014 academic year. An independent accreditation process was also launched for a new Jewish Studies Master’s course in the historical studies programme. The cours guarantor is Professor Ph Dr. Jiri Holy, DrSc.

Lectures, workshops and conferences:

Last year PCJS offered students, specialists and the general public a number of lectures, workshops and conferences. These included an interntional conference: Interculturality and urbanity in 19th and 20th century Prague German literature, co-organized by the Charles University Faculty of Arts Institute of Germanic Studies.

Another international event was the workshop ‘The Representation of the Shoah in Literature, Theature and Film in Central Europe: 1970s and 1980s’, which the Centre co-organized with the ASCR Institute of Czech Literature. The output from this workshop is the anthology The Representation of the Shoah in Literature, Theatre and Film in Central Europe: 1970s and 1980s - Jiri Holy (ed.), which was brought out in collaboration with PCJS and the Centre for the Study of the Holocaust and Jewish Literature

The main event last year was the ‘Prague Centre for Jewish Studies first annual conference: Jewish Studies in the 21st century. Prague - Europe - the world’ which took place in the Clam-Gallas with high international participation. Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda took over patronage of the conference, which was co-organized by the Prague City Archive. A detailed programme can be found here:

During the winter semester the Centre offered a workshop on the subject of Richard Wagner: ‘Judaism in music’. This was immediately followed by a visit from Professor Jack Leociak from the Centrum Badań nad Zagladą Zydów, which is part of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Professor Leociak lectured on literature from the Warsaw Ghetto.

The Centre also welcomed Dr. Aleida Assmann and Dr. Jan Assmann from the Universitat Konstanz, who are inter alia the authors behind cultural memory theory. These lectures were co-organized by the Charles University Faculty of Arts Institute of Germanic Studies and the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic.

Another prominent lecturer was the current leading specialist on the Kabballah and Jewish mysticism, Professor Moshe Idel from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His Czech works include: Golem – zidovske magicke a mystické tradice o umelém cloveku (Golem - Jewish magical and mystical traditions on the Artificial Anthropoid) and Kabala: nové pohledy (Kabbalah: new perspectives). This lecture was made possible thanks to the generous permission of Charles University Hussite Theological Faculty, where Professor Idel was a guest.

The Centre’s invitation was also accepted by Mgr. Miriam Mouryc from the International School for Holocaust Studies, part of the Yad Vashem Memorial Centre. She presented the Yad Vashem Holocauts teaching methods.

We were also visited by Professor Susanna Heschel, who presented a lecture entitled ‘Islam as a Template for Modern Judaism: Theology, Scholarship, and Politics in the European Jewish Imagination, 1830s to 1930s’.

In collaboration with the Malach Centre for Visual History at the Charles University Faculty of Mathematics and Physics we have taken part in the organization of a lecture by Professor M. Luisa Juarez Hervas from the Philosophical Faculty at Universidad de Alcala v Madridu entitled ‘The Discourse  of European Identity in Current Spanish Life: An Analysis of Various Examples of Holocaust Remembrance and Representation’.

Events in 2012 culminated with a discussion in the Great Hall with Israeli Ambassador Yaakov Levy, preceding  a series of three workshops on the subject of ‘Perspectives on Israeli studies in the Czech Republic’, which will take place this year.

Even before the Prague Centre for Jewish Studies was opened, several lectures were given by visiting professors thanks to financial and personnel support from the Charles University Faculty of Arts International Office, e.g. Professor Rachel Greenblatt from Harvard University on the subject of 'History, memory and local tradition in early modern Jewish Prague’, and Professor Boaz Huss from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev on ‘Contemporary Kabbalah’.

During the summer semester of the 2012/2013 academic year, the Centre will arrange a conference with international participation: ‘David Gans (1541-1613) after four centuries: legacy of an early modern Jewish polymath’ together with Kurt and Ursula Schubert’s Centre for Jewish Studies at Palacký University in Olomouc with the assistance of the Jewish Museum in Prague. The Centre is also a partner of the ‘Otokar Fischer (1883-1938): At the boundaries/In Grenzgebieten’ symposium organized by the Institut for Study of Literature together with the Institute of Germanic Studies, and Institut für Deutsche und Niederlandische Philologie (Freie Universität Berlin).The most important event of the winter semester will clearly be the PCJS Second Annual Conference.

In May an exhibition entitled ‘Karaite Journey’ will open in collaboration with the Department of Central European Studies at the Charles University Faculty of Arts, using historical photographs to portray a hundred years of the Crimean Karaites’ lives in Poland.



In 2012 the Centre offered students and the broad public the following coursed nd seminars:

At LS 2011/2012

Jewish motifs and antisemitism in 19th and 20th century Czech literature II (Prof. Holý)

The Shoah in Central European literatures II (Prof. Holý)

Jews and ‘the others’ (Mgr. Weiss)

Jewish Prague - architecture, fine art and music (Dr. Zaruba-Pfeffermann)

Kurzprosa der Prager deutschen Literatur II - Das juedische Prag (Mgr. Hadwiger)

Kafka, Prag und das Judentum (Prof. Weinbergfdr. Zbytovsky)

At ZS 2012/2013

Jewish motifs and antisemitism in 19th and 20th century Czech literature I (Prof. Holý)

The Shoah in Central European literatures I (Prof. Holý)

Franz Werfel (Prof. Tvrdík)

The Hebrew Bible - reading (Dr. Lycka)

Hebrew I (Dr. Lycka)

Judaism I (Dr. Lycka)

Judaismus in traditional texts (Dr. Lycka)

Reflections of Jewish religious tradition in 20th century Polish literature (Mgr. Benešová)

Theorizing testimony - Holocaust literature (Mag. Knoll)


Foreign Collaboration:

In addition to the natural development of relations with foreign establishments during workshops and conferences with foreign participation and visiting professors, collaboation is also actively being fostered with particular institutions whose specialist renown in Jewish studies may be of significant benefit to the Prague Centre for Jewish Studies from a long-term perspective. To be specific, this includes Tel Aviv University, which is offering collaboration over the opening of a joint degree and cotutelle and an annual joint workshop reflecting progress in the field of Jewish studies. A personal visit will be made by TAU Vice-Chancellor Prof. R. Rein from 9.5.2013 to 12..5.2013. Contact has also been established with the Kantor Centre for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry TAU and the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, whose representative Mgr. Mouryc, following her lecture (mentioned above) at the Faculty of Arts, discussed further opportunities for academic exchanges with Prague Centre for Jewish Studies Council representatives. Discussions continue over student and academic stays at the University of Texas in Austin, which has expressed great interest in cooperation with PCJS. This university is home to the prestige Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies. An important offer of collaboration has also come from the Near and Middle Eastern Studies Department at Trinity College Dublin.


 Marcela Zoufala