(JTA) — A Russian university has established a department for Jewish culture.
St. Petersburg University’s Academic Commission voted unanimously July 12 to establish a Department of Jewish Culture as part of the university’s faculty of philosophy. The department was formerly a center for biblical and Jewish studies with limited academic capacity.
St. Petersburg intellectuals and academics have made many attempts to establish a Jewish studies department since the university was established in 1724 by Peter the Great.
The university has plans to create a large Judaica library, expand academic Jewish research opportunities and accept incoming undergraduate students to the department.
St. Petersburg universities, museums and libraries all reportedly have vast Judaica collections dating from pre-Revolution times.
The Avi Chai Foundation, Rothschild, Genesis, the Jewish Dutch Humanitarian Fund and others are providing support for the department, which will be headed by St. Petersburg scholar Igor Tantlevskij.