St. Petersburg State University, one of the most prestigious institutions of higher learning in the former Soviet Union, has established a Department for Jewish Culture.
The new department, part of the university’s faculty of philosophy, is the successor to the school’s 11-year-old Center for Biblical and Jewish Studies, which was founded in cooperation with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. It will train specialists in Jewish history, culture, religion, philosophy and other areas of academic Jewish study.
The university, according to the London Jewish Chronicle, “has plans to create a large Judaica library, expand academic Jewish research opportunities and accept incoming undergraduate students. St. Petersburg universities, museums and libraries all reportedly have vast Judaica collections dating from pre-Revolution times.”
The department, which will receive financial support from the Avi Chai Foundation, the Jewish Dutch Humanitarian Fund and other foundations, will be headed by St. Petersburg scholar Igor Tantlevskij.
“As part of the expansion of Jewish life in the former Soviet Union, the department’s creation will play a key role both in academic circles as well as in the development of Jewish study and life,” Tantlenskij said.