The Institute of Jewish Studies is dedicated to interdisciplinary, internationally embedded research on Judaism. To achieve this mission, the Institute is active in the fields of academic research, university teaching and educational services for a general public.
Regular items on the agenda are the annual series of twenty public lectures by experts in various aspects of Jewish studies, language courses Yiddish and modern Hebrew (Ivrit) and the Yiddish reading group. The Institute of Jewish Studies also offers courses in Jewish literature, which are embedded in the curriculum of Arts and Philosophy at the University of Antwerp, but are also accessible for free students.
The Institute of Jewish Studies wants to provide an inspiring environment for emergent researchers who either write their dissertation within the context of the Institute during a period of four years, or who are invited as visiting scholars from another (foreign) institution. The annual international conferences provide a forum for meeting the most distinguished international scholars in Jewish studies. The Institute maintains numerous partnerships with international centers for Jewish Studies. The Institute specifically commits itself to keeping these scientific meetings free of charge and accessible to all those interested in the subjects. Congress contributions are afterwards assembled for publication in scientific publications, such as special issues of academic journals or independent publications.
The Institute also houses a collection of widely accessible and specialized source material, primary and secondary literature. Both researchers and occasional visitors can consult this library.
The Institute aims at openness and diversity in its different approaches and in its day-to-day activities. It considers itself to be a forum for interaction between the different academic disciplines in interdisciplinary research, between academics and students from Flanders and their foreign counterparts, between the university and heterogeneous communities in society. Co-workers and visitors of the Institute of Jewish Studies share attention to and respect for the particular, historically evolved form of life and culture of Judaism. They also choose to develop this interest within the context of academia.
This mission statement of the Institute is institutionally confirmed by means of a five-year management agreement between the University of Antwerp and the Flemish Community as concerning the Institute of Jewish Studies. The fourth management agreement started on January 1, 2017.
In its set-up and functioning, the Institute of Jewish Studies is unique in the Flemish academic world.