The Hebrew and Jewish studies programs are housed within the School of Languages and Linguistics. Subjects cover a range of interests and are drawn from programs in history, art history, cinema studies, classics and archaeology. Although language study is not a formal component of the major in Jewish studies, students are encouraged to complete a Hebrew studies major concurrently.
Hebrew was first taught at the University of Melbourne in 1946 and continues to be a significant influence on scholarly thought and the teaching of Hebrew in Jewish schools and communities throughout Australia. It is the only program in Australia that teaches Hebrew language from beginners to advanced levels and places great emphasis on it as the language of the Bible and the language of modern Israel. Students are able to explore a variety of topics that draw on some of the most comprehensive Hebrew and Jewish archival resources available in Australia.
Study of the language is complemented by subjects that explore Jewish culture, literature and society. Through the study of modern authors and poets, these subjects aim to provide students with knowledge of the language in contemporary contexts and to equip them with skills to undertake critical literary analysis in both Hebrew and English. The Centre for Jewish History and Culture maintains formal international arrangements with universities that provide students with the opportunity to complete some of their studies overseas. The program leads to an articulated structure of higher degree study and provides graduates with highly valued and transferable skills in their vocational pursuits.
The Jewish studies program offers an unparalleled opportunity to study the development of Jewish civilization from its origins to the contemporary world. Jewish studies investigates the history, literature, archaeology, philosophy, enthnography and social theory of Jewish society and culture. Students are encouraged to engage in contemporary debates about ethnicity and identity, assimilation, exile and Diaspora cultures. Students benefit from the interdisciplinary breadth and the opportunity to combine this with options in Hebrew language study. Jewish studies is conducted in a dynamic environment by dedicated teaching staff who are able to draw on the resources of one of the country's leading history programs. Special seminar and public lecture programs are conducted to promote discussion of issues relevant to the Jewish community in Melbourne and Australia today.