Lehrhaus Judaica is a non-denominational Jewish studies adult school offering courses to the general public. Its faculty is made up of local university professors, advanced Ph.D. students, rabbis, and other experienced educators, as well as visiting scholars from major universities in the U.S. and abroad. Its course offerings include seminars and lecture courses throughout the Bay Area on Jewish history, philosophy, sociology, theology, literature, Hebrew and Yiddish, and the arts. Lehrhaus Judaica also offers national and international study tours exploring the Jewish worlds of New York, Israel, Europe, the Caribbean, and more, and maintains a 5,000-volume academic Jewish studies library at its Berkeley center’s Reading Room.
Founded in 1974 with historian Fred Rosenbaum as its first director, Lehrhaus took its name (meaning “house of learning”) and inspiration from a school for Jewish studies founded by philosopher Franz Rosenzweig in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1920. Attracting scholars such as Martin Buber, S.Y. Agnon, A.J. Heschel, Gershom Scholem, and Erich Fromm, the original Lehrhaus — until its closure by the Nazis — was the focal point of a Jewish intellectual revival between the wars. Dialogue between the student and teacher was the primary method of learning, which, according to Rosenzweig and Buber, “could restore something genuinely Jewish to the Western intellectual.”