In 2018 and 2019, major research projects were started or continued in the fields of epi­graphy and digital humanities, both crucial domains for our Institute.

Supported by the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community (BMI) and in particular by the European Union’s LEADER programme focusing on innovative projects in rural areas, several large cemeteries in Franconia (Bavaria) are current objects of investigation of the STI.

A result of the expulsion of Jews from medieval cities and towns was an increase of Jewish communities settling in rural areas. Particularly in Franconia an astounding number of small rural communities developed, being of import­ance for the entire surrounding area in the early modern period. These communities included the market towns of Schnaittach near Nuremberg, Schopfloch and Wallerstein, whose community cemeteries served the smallish kehillot of an entire region as burial places, now being painstakingly documented.

A widely appreciated example of the Institute’s expertise in digital humanities is the epigraphic database “epidat”, developed to edit the results of the documentation online. Since 2006, epidat has been steadily growing: inventory, documentation, edition, translation etc. 211 digital editions with over 36,000 gravestones from the mid-11th century to the present day and more than twice as many image files are now available online. With currently 194 holdings, the focus is on Germany (including 120 cemeteries in North Rhine-Westphalia), plus holdings from Latvia, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic. Epidat guarantees reliable, fast, worldwide access to all corpora and enables full text retrieval in both Hebrew and German.

The diversity of the Institute’s work is evident when one looks at recent issues of the Institute’s journal “Kalonymos. Beiträge zur deutsch-jüdischen Geschichte” In addition to research reports and articles on current controversies, it contains biographical essays, family histories spanning continents, insights into historical Jewish welfare institutions or studies of the eventful history of the Rabbinical House next to the “Alte Synagoge” of Essen, where the Institute has been housed since 2011.