Welcome to the Department of Hebrew, Biblical and Jewish Studies!

We offer a rich teaching and learning program from absolute beginners to PhD. Our four undergraduate majors are:

  • Biblical Studies: methods for understanding how the biblical texts communicated their message in their ancient historical contexts.
  • Classical Hebrew: the language of the Bible and other ancient sources like the Dead Sea Scrolls. This includes ancient Semitic languages of Aramaic and Syriac. We are the only department in Australia to offer a full program in Classical Hebrew.
  • Modern Hebrew: expands on Hebrew's various historical manifestations while facilitating and nurturing learning "language in use", and covering issues of contemporary Israeli society and culture.
  • Jewish Civilisation, Thought and Culture: an interdisciplinary program that provides insight into the rich cultural heritage of the Jewish people and their significant contributions to broader world culture in both the Christian and later Muslim worlds.

You can enhance your University studies with a semester abroad. Take part in an exchange in one of our partner universities in Israel, in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, including scholarship assistance at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

We have an outstanding graduate program with a significant number of doctoral students. The department is a partner in the Master of Museum and Heritage Studies, with specialist units on Holocaust and Australian Jewish Museums.

For students considering a future in teaching the Hebrew language, the Faculty of Education at the University of Sydney offers a program entitled 'Teaching Classical Hebrew & Judaism'. Also Modern Hebrew can be studied as part of LOTE at secondary level. Please see the teacher education program.

The teaching and learning programs offered through the department are sustained by a number of generous benefactors: The Malka Einhorn Lectureship in Modern Hebrew and support from the Roth Foundation.

History of the Hebrew Biblical and Jewish Studies department

The Department of Hebrew, Biblical and Jewish Studies was founded in 1945 as the Department of Semitic Studies, headed by Evan MacLaurin until he retired in 1978. During this period, the department taught programs in Classical Hebrew and Arabic along with other ancient Semitic languages such as Aramaic and Ugaritic. Both Modern and Mishnaic Hebrew were offered within the Classical Hebrew program.

When Professor MacLaurin retired, Professor Emeritus Rifaat Ebied served as Foundation Professor of Semitic Studies and was Department Head until the appointment of the late Professor Emeritus Alan Crown, who served as Head of Department as well as a personal chair until he retired in 1997.

In January 2003, the Department of Semitic Studies separated into Arabic Language and Cultures and Hebrew, Biblical and Jewish Studies. After a quarter of a century in the main quadrangle, the department moved into Brennan MacCallum in June 2004. In 2011, the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning offering Jewish Thought and Culture courses began operating through the department and CCE.