Reconnecting to a Rich Legacy

In the 19th century, Berlin had become the cradle of Haskalah, or Jewish Enlightenment. Connected with this was the birth of the Reform movement and of Liberal Judaism, with spokesmen like Abraham Geiger, Ludwig Philippson and Leo Baeck, to name but a few. The Abraham Geiger College at University of Potsdam, founded in 1999, stands in the tradition of the Berlin Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums (the Higher Institute for the Scientific Study of Judaism), which was closed down by the Nazis in 1942. It relates the great German tradition of Wissenschaft to current global Jewish life.

In doing so, the College pursues Geiger’s motto: “Through investigation of the particular to perception of the universal; through acquaintance with the past to understanding of the present; through reason to faith.”

It was with the encouragement of personalities like Rabbi Walter Jacob that we began to reestablish the broken link of German Jewry.

My ancestors for 16 generations were rabbis in Germany and Central Europe. I am glad that there will be new generations of rabbis.

Rabbi Walter Jacob, President, Abraham Geiger College