For hundreds of years, Galicia and Bukovina constituted one of the oldest and most important cultural centres in Europe. The destruction of this cultural centre through the course of two world wars and the Holocaust has resulted not only in the disruption of the uniquely creative Torah tradition of that region, but also in the detachment of this tradition from modern Jewish awareness, both in academic and traditional communities.
'Ad Hena' is a learning and research institute dedicated to the study of the Torah creations of Galician and Bukovinian Jewry, from the 16th century to the present day.
The centre seeks to create a broad academic foundation which will bring together Torah expertise, scholarship, modern research methods and historical thinking. It aims to achieve this by integrating budding Haredi researchers into scientific research endeavours.
The Institute’s fellows groups consists of researchers from the Haredi world with broad knowledge and proven talent, whose acquaintance with rabbinic works and intellectual heritage is exhaustive and thorough. They are currently undergoing a process of learning and skills acquisition in the aforementioned fields; benefiting from direct academic supervision; and receiving guidance and group feedback on their research topics according to their progress within their approved research programmes. The output of the research is presented for publication in peer-reviewed journals in Israel and the world, and correspondingly published in Haredi journals. Some of the findings make their way also into the Haredi press.
Guiding the activities of the Institute is the recognition of the value intellectual reasoning holds in the Haredi learning space. This value can contribute substantially to broadening the areas of interest among the research community and Israeli society and deepening their understanding. The Haredi world stands to gain in equal measure. It is our belief that, through the acquisition of rigorous methods (philological, historical and intellectual) and the development of originality, critical thinking and research skills, the Haredi learning space is likely to generate an original and productive contribution to the research community and Israeli society, and bring these worlds into contact with unrealised cultural possibilities.
Similarly, the Institute believes that projects such as these commensurately enrich the Haredi world and its self-understanding, as they illuminate afresh – and with new depth, richness and precision – the great spiritual figures and compositions that are at the centre of its culture.
This concept, actualised here in the innovative research into Galician and Bukovinian Jewry, is seen by the Institute as an initial model on which basis wider investigation may occur, as per the reasoning described above, in various knowledge areas and literary spheres.
Through its activities, the 'Ad Hena' Institute seeks to spur academic interest in the distinct qualities of the Galician Torah tradition, delineate its creative disciplines and characterise them, and place them at the forefront of research and public interest. At the same time, the Institute strives to arouse a similar interest in the cultural treasures of Galicia and Bukovina within the intellectual and learning tradition of the Jewish religious community; to enrich the routine, familiar teaching methods and learning areas with an important cultural layer which has been somewhat neglected; and to deepen and sharpen the traditional scholarly understanding of the features of this unique Torah legacy. The institute is an initiative of the non-profit Jewish Galicia and Bukovina.