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The Centre for Hebrew Language and Jewish Culture at Brusov State University

Published November 02, 2020 by Ani Avetisyan

At Yerevan State University's Faculty of Oriental Studies, Hebrew language has been taught since 1996, initially as an optional second language before becoming an essential part of the teaching curriculum for BA and MA students of the Arabic Studies Department. Each year almost 20 students sign up for Hebrew language, expressing their interest in receiving background knowledge, enhancing their language skills and professional prospects.

In 2019, the Centre for Hebrew Language and Jewish Culture was established at Brusov State University. Taking into consideration the huge interest of students, the importance of improving the Hebrew language teaching programme, as well as the potential of developing Jewish Studies in Armenia, we saw the possibility of creating a Hebrew Language and Culture Centre at BSU. This Centre will be an educational resource with interactive programmes on Hebrew language and culture through a cultural, academic and social framework in collaboration with other universities and partners. In its initial years, the programme will be a modest though ambitious one and will include mainly courses in Hebrew language. Classroom learning will be amply supplemented by a stimulating programme of extra-curricular lectures and cultural events including the presentation of academic papers on Jewish history and culture, poetry readings, art exhibits and films all sponsored by the Centre for Hebrew Language and Jewish Culture. This will provide our students with basic familiarity with the key periods and themes in Jewish history, with the central texts in Jewish tradition and history, understanding of the nature and development of Judaism as a religion, the complex relations between Jews, Judaism and the non-Jewish world, the challenges and possibilities facing Jews and Judaism throughout history and awareness of Jewish diversity throughout the ages. Students will encounter and grapple with classic texts and traditions of Judaism, while exploring their relevance to today's most pressing issues. In addition, people interested in spending their semester abroad in Israel can enrol in one of the approved programmes at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Ben-Gurion University in Be'er Sheva and Haifa University. This summer, the Centre has already had its first student successfully complete her Hebrew language online course at Haifa University. Each year more and more students will be encouraged to attend Hebrew courses at Israeli universities.

The Centre hopes to cooperate with other academic institutions both in Armenia and particularly in Israel, as well as with organisations whose activities are pertinent to the furthering of Jewish and Israeli Studies.

Ani Avetisyan is a PhD Scholar at St John's College, Cambridge and an Honorary PhD Scholar at the Woolf Institute. Her research focuses on two Judaeo-Arabic medical manuscripts from the Matenadaran Museum (The Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts).

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