UCL Hebrew & Jewish Studies


Our history

Pioneering Jewish Studies since 1826. 

UCL, founded in 1826, was the first university in England to admit Jews, alongside students of all race and religion. Hebrew language and Jewish Studies have been taught at UCL since its inception.

The original Department of Hebrew was re-established as the Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies in 1967.  It builds on a long-established, distinguished scholarly tradition, and is the only university department in the UK dedicated to Hebrew and Jewish Studies. 

antique etching of Hyman Hyrwitz
Hyman Hurwitz (b. Poznan 1770 – d. London, 1844) was the first professor of the Hebrew language at University College London (then the ‘University of London’), and the first Jew to hold a university position in England. He was appointed to this position in 1828, when teaching began at UCL. He authored a number of pioneering works in English, including Hebrew Tales Selected and Translated from the Writings of the Ancient Hebrew Sages (London 1826), and a number of books on the Hebrew language and its etymology, syntax, and grammar.

Old portrait photos of Solomon Schechter
Solomon Schechter (b. Focşani 1847 – d. New York 1915) was professor of Hebrew at UCL in 1899 – 1902. It is in this period that he published his most important findings from the Cairo Genizah, including the Wisdom of Ben Sira and Saadyana.

Black and white portrait photo of Hermann Gollancz
Hermann Gollancz (b. Bremen 1852 – d. London 1930) was the first Jew to earn a doctorate from the University of London, and Goldsmid Professor of Hebrew at UCL from 1902 to 1924.

Chimen Abramsky in an office surrounded by books
Chimen Abramsky (b. Minsk 1916 – d. London 2010) was Professor of Modern Jewish History at UCL from 1966 to 1983, and expert in eastern European modern Jewish history.

Sepia portrait of Raphael Loewe
Raphael Loewe (b. Calcutta 1919 – d. London 2011) was Goldsmid Professor of Hebrew at UCL from 1975 to 1984, and expert in medieval Hebrew poetry.

black and white portrait of John Klier
John Doyle Klier (b. Bellefonte, PA 1944 – d. London 2007) was Professor of Modern Jewish History at UCL from 1990 to 2007. He contributed ground-breaking research on Russian Jewish history.