The Program in Jewish Culture and Society


Unknown. 'Prophet Ezekiel' First quarter of the 18th century, Russian icon
Unknown. Prophet Ezekiel
First quarter of the 18th
century, Russian icon

Hebrew and Jewish studies have been part of the fabric of teaching at The University of Melbourne since 1946. It began with the endowment of the Lazarus and Abraham Sicree Chair of Semitic Studies and the appointment of the foundation professor, Maurice Goldman. Since then, Hebrew and Jewish studies have earned both national visibility and international recognition, and have acquired a place of honour for scholarly excellence, educational initiatives and cultural outreach.

Over the last 60 years, the level and range of courses in Hebrew and Jewish studies at The University of Melbourne has grown and continues to expand to this day. We strive to make available to scholars, students and the public the riches and beauty of the Hebrew language and the Jewish tradition, in all its phases. To that end, we offer Hebrew language courses at three levels, from beginners to advanced.

Our teaching program is varied and broad. At an undergraduate level, we offer students an opportunity to explore aspects of the Hebrew language and literature, Jewish history, film, culture, religion, literature, thought, society and politics. At the graduate level, the Program enables students can undertake Masters and PhD studies.

In building on our proud tradition of excellence, The program in Jewish Culture and Society has become an exciting and rewarding hub of Hebrew and Jewish studies as well as an ambitious, vibrant home of learning. We are committed to continuing the long standing cross-cultural study and intellectual exchange with other programs, an exchange that has created new insights and has brought fresh perspectives from other fields. Hence, students can undertake subjects through the History and Politics disciplines that are counted towards a major in Hebrew and Jewish Studies.

A major goal of the program is to continue to act as a gateway, a natural bridge for scholarly and educational initiatives that enable the public to gain a deeper understanding of the diversity of Judaism's intellectual, cultural and religious history. Our ambition is to provide an open and stimulating learning environment and to meet the intellectual, educational and cultural needs of students and instructors in Hebrew and Jewish studies.

The Jews started it all - and by 'it' I mean so many of the things we care about, the underlying values that make all of us, Jew and Gentile, believer and aethiest, tick. Without the Jews, we would see the world through different eyes, hear with different ears, even feel with different feelings... we would think with a different mind, interpret all our experience differently, draw different conclusions from the things that befall us. Thomas Cahill The Gifts of the Jews