As current news demonstrate daily, understanding the world of religion is as relevant as ever: from ISIS to the values of the United States Republican Party; from Haredi political parties and religious Zionism to the Japanese PM taking the heads of the G7 states to visit the Grand Shrine at Ise, in face of grand protest from the Chinese government; from Mecca to Jerusalem and to the Ganges river that flows through the holy Indian city Varanasi: Religions, the feelings they evoke and the thought structures they produce continue to motivate the world. In spite of progress and the pronouncement that God is dead, most human beings still believe in one religion or another and religions are fundamental to culture all over the globe. In a very real sense, religions are a window into the inner workings of the human psyche.
The Department of Comparative Religion at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem is one of the best places in the world to delve into such matters. It is also the only department in the world where the subject may be learned in Hebrew (it is the only department in Israel to teach a BA in the field). The department is one of the oldest in the University, and yet has a young and up to-date staff and offers a rich, innovative and versatile study program.
Our program has two main emphases, which enhance each other: The first is a rich introduction to the central religious traditions of the world and to formative theoretical concerns of the discipline of religious studies. This connects to an in-depth a focus on a specific religious tradition, depending on the student's choice. The second is an experiential curriculum, in which we drive our students to contemplate the great existential questions that religions have dealt with since the dawn of humanity. In this emphasis we may also mention also tours, courses on religion in Jerusalem, and travelling courses.