The Institute Today
Columbia has long been a leader in Jewish studies. The Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies embodies that proud tradition, as well as our ongoing commitment to excellence in the field. It is home to many preeminent scholars in Jewish history, culture, religion, philosophy, languages, and literature, whose interdisciplinary perspectives illuminate our understanding of Israel and Judaism in both the historical and modern global context.
—President Lee Bollinger
Preserving and enhancing the institute’s academic mission to serve as a hub of scholarship and teaching is of primary importance, and requires the continued preeminence of our faculty. Designation as an institute ensures that, more than ever, the finest scholars in the world are drawn to Columbia's program. The upgrade also offers a structural advantage: unlike a center, an institute can participate in joint appointments with departments, allowing it to address more effectively its instructional responsibilities. While students and faculty continue to benefit from the inclusion of Jewish studies in departments across the University, the establishment of a central location where Israel and Jewish studies are examined and amplified furthers our impact.
For example, the new professorship of Israel and Jewish studies is grounded primarily in the institute, with a joint appointment in the appropriate disciplinary department of its incumbent, and the professorships in Hebrew literature are held jointly in the institute and in the Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures.
Impact on Campus and in the World
The institute provides a vibrant and stimulating environment for discussion on campus among students, faculty, alumni, and others. Lively intellectual discourse occurs not only within classroom settings, but in other venues as well. The institute interacts with other institutes and organizations on campus to engage as many individuals as possible on topics of importance to Israel and Jewish studies.
Lastly, the institute serves as both a national and an international forum on pressing issues. While engaging with the world beyond Columbia's gates, it ensures that a multiplicity of viewpoints and topics are brought to our students, our graduates, and interested individuals. In addition, the institute improves public awareness of activities related to Israel and Jewish studies, highlighting Columbia's distinguished past, flourishing present, and even more promising future in the field.