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Hungarian Hebrew Studies Conference

Schweitzer Lectures 2018


The conference of the Hungarian Hebrew Studies Society

ELTE, Budapest, 8 February 2018


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József Schweitzer

József Schweitzer (1922–2015)

Prof. dr. József Schweitzer was born in 1922, in the town of Veszprém. Following the early death of his mother, he grew up in the house of his maternal grandfather, Ármin Hoffer, the chief rabbi of Veszprém at that time. After his graduation in the Jewish Grammar School in Budapest, he began his studies in the Rabbinical Seminary. He obtained his doctorate in 1946 at the Faculty of Humanities of the Pázmány Péter (now, Eötvös Loránd) University, and his rabbinical ordination in 1947. Subsequently, he served as rabbi in the town of Pécs, and from 1981, in Budapest. He had been a lecturer at the Rabbinical Seminary since 1964, and he was appointed as its director in 1985, after the death of Alexander Scheiber. He remained the director of the Rabbinical Seminary until 1997, while he was also Chief Rabbi of Hungary from 1994 to 2000.

When the Hungarian Hebrew Studies Society was established in 2002, he became its founding president. His scientific work covers several subfields in Hebrew studies, from Biblical studies to Hungarian Jewish history. An active participant of interdenominational dialogues, probably the most memorable example of it was his joint TV lecture in 2003 with Cardinal Péter Erdő about Easter and Passover. He also contributed to the training of a new generation of Hebrew studies scholars in Hungary, as a teacher and lecturer at several state-run and church-run institutions of higher education in Hungary.

He passed away on the 5 February 2015. The Federation of the Hungarian Jewish Congregations (MAZSIHISZ), as well as four universities (the Rabbinical Seminary, ELTE, KRE and PPKE) jointly organised a memorial conference in the main hall of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences the next year, on the 27 January 2016. A year later, on the 14 February 2017, the first Schweitzer-lectures took place at the Faculty of Theology of the Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church, under the auspices of the Hungarian Hebrew Studies Society. Then, the József Schweitzer Memorial Prize, established by the Schweitzer family and awarded once in two years, was also handed out for the first time. Our conference this year continues this tradition.


József Schweitzer Memorial Conference, 27 January 2016.
Schweitzer-lectures, 14 February 2017.