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Jewish Culture: The Synagogue. Focus of Jewish Life and Learning


Admission requirements

Introduction to Judaism and Cultural History of the Jews.


This series of lectures forms the first course to be offered by participants of the newly founded Jewish Studies Network, a cooperative program of Leiden University, Potsdam University, New York University and Bar Ilan University. The topic is the syngaogue, an institution that often described as the focus of Jewish life. However this has not always been the case and may not be so in the future or even the present. The lecturers will treat both the function and the aesthetics of the synagogue over a period of two thousand years, from the hellenistic and rabbinic periods to present-day reforms and architecture.

Course objectives

The students will gain insight in Jewish history over a period of two millenia by way of a study of one of the major institutions, i.e. the synagogue. They will become aware of Judaism’s unique characteristics as well the influence of other cultures on its forms of worship and learning, both physically in art and architecture as well as spiritually.


The classes will commence in the week of October 17th. See time table.

Mode of instruction

Nine weekly lectures by professors from four international institutions.

Assessment method

Students will write a paper on a subject related to one or more of the lectures of this series.


The course schedule, names of the lecturers, titles of their lectures and assigned readings will be available on blackboard.

Reading list

Assigned readings will be posted per week on Blackboard. Relevant books will be placed on the reserved reading shelf (collegeplank) in the theological reading room (studiezaal) in the university library.


Via uSis
In addition to the registration in uSis, students are also expected to self-enroll in blackboard a few weeks before the course starts.

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Contact information

Prof.dr. Judith Frishman, course coordinator, may be consulted by email: Prof.dr. J.Frishman.


This series is open to both BA and MA students, particularly those majoring in Religious Studies, (esp. Biblical or Jewish Studies), History and Art History.