About Interdepartmental Centre of Jewish Studies

The University of Pisa has supported the creation of the Centro Interdipartimentale di Studi Ebraici (CISE) The Interdepartmental Centre of Jewish Studies. The centre, the first of its kind in Italy, brings together researchers from six departments, engaged in studying various aspects of Jewish culture and history, from antiquity until today. At the present time departments belonging to three different faculties belong to the Centre (Humanities, Languages and Political Science): Philosophy, History (Medieval, Modern and Contemporary), Ancient History, Classics, Linguistics and Political Science. In addition there are Professors from the Faculties of Agrarian Science, Law, Engineerig and medicine in the Centre.

The centre, operative since November 25th, 2003, is innovative and original in Italian academic and cultural life. It proposes itself as a point of reference on a national and international level for researchers who, increasingly, turn their interests towards the rich heritage of Jewish sources and documents that are conserved in Italy.

The objective of the CISE is to promote a sector of studies, generally known as “Jewish studies,” which in Italy until now has not received academic recognition. It proposes to coordinate research oriented towards deepening, in different fields of specialization, knowledge of the Jewish contribution to contemporary culture and civilization. There is much research underway on these themes and many projects are currently being worked on which concern different disciplines.

The promotion of ancient and modern Hebrew is especially important for philology and linguists. Particular attention will be given, in the context of Medieval, Modern and Contemporary History, to research regarding the knowledge of antisemitism and the process of the integration of Jews in Italian Social life. In 2003, in a display of the increasing interest on the part of the University for research into contemporary Jewish life, the department of Modern and Contemporary History has signed an agreement to collaborate with Yad Vashem and in particular with the Institute for Holocaust Research. The aim of the agreement is to favour cultural exchange between researchers of different backgrounds, thus enriching research linked to antisemitism and the Shoah. Similar collaboration on an international level can extend itself, through the Centre, to other foreign entities and institutions. Such collaboration could avail itself of the documentary wealth contained in archival sources and libraries in our country.
Interdisciplinary researches that aim to recognize the importance of the artistic and written heritage of medieval and modern Judaism are underway. Among these the transcription and the restoration of the tombstones of Pisa’s Jewish cemetery and the cataloguing –still underway—of Judaica, contained in both books and documents, in the University of Pisa’s libraries. Given access to the adequate sources such an initiative could extend itself to Tuscan Public and University libraries.

Other initiatives and conferences, which will take place between 2004 and 2006, are currently under study by the Director and the centre’s collaborators.
The intense program of activities that the Centre intends to organize and promote requires many resources, both human and material. We would ask then that all interested individuals, entities and associations, both directly or indirectly in the History of Judaism and in the promotion of Jewish studies, offer, in the limits of their possibilities, concrete support to the activities of the Centre.

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