Third EAJS Congress, Berlin, 26th-31st July 1987
The Interpretation of Scripture in Judaism
Around one hundred and fifty participants from eleven countries gathered in Berlin between 26th and 31st July for the Third Congress of the EAJS. This, the largest and longest Congress of the Association to date, was organized by Professor Peter Schäfer of Berlin, ably assisted by Dr. Margarete Schulter. Professor Arnold Goldberg of Frankfurt presided.
The structure of the congress followed the pattern of the earlier congresses, and offered a series of plenary sessions interspersed with short papers running in parallel sections. The plenary papers, delivered by G. Vermes (Oxford), I. Marcus (New York), A. van der Heide (Leiden), A. Saenz-Badillos (Barcelona), M. Brocke (Duisberg) and M. Hengel (Tübingen), all centred on the broad theme of the interpretation of Scripture in Judaism – a theme which reflected the major interest of Professor Goldberg whose presidential address was entitled Die Schrift der rabbinischen Schriftausleger. In all, just over one hundred papers were read over the six days. The participants were welcomed to Berlin by representatives of the municipality, of the Freie Universität and of the local Jewish community. Extra-curricular activities included a tour of the city and an evening concert of baroque music. Most participants used the free time to visit the museums and art galleries, and to see the sights, some even venturing on day trips into East Berlin.
The Third Congress was more than a successful conference where scholars in the field of Jewish studies met in pleasant surroundings to exchange ideas and to report on their research. It is hard not to see it in retrospect as a symbolic event. The venue was Schloss Glienicke, in the Wannsee suburb of Berlin, hard up against the Wall and right beside the Glienicke Bridge where Scharansky and others have crossed from the East to the West.
It was almost certainly the first major Jewish international conference on Jewish Studies to be held in Germany for fifty years. Each will doubtless read his or her own meaning into the symbolism. Once thing is clear: the venue, the size of the conference, and the efficiency of its organization were a tribute to the re-emergence of Jewish Studies in Germany in the post-Holocaust era.