On June 15, 1920, a small group of American scholars in Judaic studies met in New York City to found the American Academy for Jewish Research (AAJR). Led by scholars from the Jewish Theological Seminary and the Hebrew Union College, AAJR set out to organize periodic meetings for the presentation of learned papers; the publication of scholarly work in Judaica; and the promotion of fellowship and cooperation between scholars and learned societies in America and other countries.
The first public meeting was held on December 27, 1928 in New York City and in 1930, AAJR began publishing Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research. The publication of papers presented at the annual meetings appeared between 1930 and 2001.
AAJR expanded it’s mission as the world changed: with the rise of Nazism, the AAJR provided fellowships for German-Jewish scholars to work in America. In 1970s, as the field of Jewish studies rapidly expanded in the American academy, the work of AAJR changed. Starting in 1995, led by president, Robert Chazan (New York University), AAJR refocused its priorities to keep pace with the rapid changes that had occurred in the field. The organization expanded it’s number of Fellows (especially women Fellows), ceased publication of the Proceedings in 2001, and introduced a variety of new programs, many of which are intended to cultivate the next generation of scholars.
AAJR looks to the next century of work with the same energy and willingness to innovate while honoring the legacy of the pioneering scholars that first founded this institution.