In 1942, the Nazis closed down the Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums (Higher Institute for Jewish Studies) in Berlin - the end of an era, which had begun with Abraham Geiger. In 1836, Geiger had called for the founding of a Jewish theological university department in order to devote himself to Jewish tradition with the spirit of academic freedom. The Abraham Geiger College at Potsdam University is the first rabbinic seminary founded in Central Europe after the Shoah. Established in 1999, the College is supported by the Federal German Government, the Federal State of Brandenburg and the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Laender in the Federal Republic of Germany, the Central Council of Jews in Germany and the Leo Baeck Foundation. It offers an academic rabbinic education within the scope of a state university. Its mission is the understanding of Judaism within a pluralistic context.
Since 2007, the Abraham Geiger College also trains cantors. Education at the Abraham Geiger College at Potsdam University is based on three pillars:
- high academic standards with a broad selection of courses in Potsdam and Berlin, leading to a M.A. in Jewish Studies at Potsdam University
- support of the students during their practical training by expert psychosocial monitoring
- guidance of the students in their pastoral practice through mentorship
Rabbinic studies are integrated into the extensive curriculum of the college for Jewish Studies at Potsdam University and are embedded in the broader university context. This fosters the understanding of Judaism in a pluralistic setting. The Abraham Geiger College is a member of the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) and is accredited by the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR).