The Avraham Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry, a division of the Faculty of Humanities at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, was founded in 1959 by Moshe Davis, z"l (1916-1996). Prof. Davis, an authority on contemporary Jewish life and the history of American Judaism, headed the Institute from its foundation until 1973.
The Institute provides a wide-ranging curriculum mainly intended for M.A. and Ph.D. students, although it also offers two sets of courses (surveying issues in contemporary Jewry, Zionist history and the history of the Holocaust) that are designed for undergraduates. The general courses offered by the Institute cover themes relating to contemporary Jewish communities; antisemitism; the Holocaust; Zionism; and socio-demographic processes and trends in the worldwide Jewish community. Other courses focus on issues relating to specific Jewish communities (e.g., those of the U.S., Russia, and Latin America). Particular attention is paid to the study of Jewish identity, Jewish education, assimilation and intermarriage, and the interrelationship between various Diaspora communities and Israel.
The Institute is characterized by a multidisciplinary approach to research and teaching. Among its faculty are historians, demographers, political scientists, sociologists, and scholars specializing in Jewish literature, culture, art, and education. This multiplicity of perspectives allows for a deeper understanding of the problems under investigation and prompts the emergence of new and interesting research questions.
The scholarly publications of the Institute reach far beyond the academic milieu to include Jewish community leaders, policy-makers, educators, and journalists, both in Israel and abroad. Throughout the academic year, the Institute maintains an intensive program of events that includes lectures, seminars, workshops, and conferences.
The Institute of Contemporary Jewry comprises four archival and documentation centers: the Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive; the Documentation Center on Jewish Demography and Statistics; the Oral History Archive; and the Center for Computerized Research Services with its database on Contemporary Jewry. Two autonomous research centers are also associated with the Institute: the Cherrick Center for the Study of Zionism, the Yishuv, and the State of Israel; and the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism (SICSA).
The Institute is named after Avraham Harman, z"l (1915-1992), Israel's ambassador to the United States (1959-1968), president of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1968-1983), and its chancellor until his passing.
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