The research interests of the Institute, founded in 1992, center on the history, religion and culture of Jews and Judaism in the countries of Europe from the early modern period to the present day, with a focus on the history and present of Jews in German-speaking countries, on specifically German-Jewish aspects of the history of Israel, and also on research into Antisemitism and right-wing extremism.

The institute offers an extensive public library. The dissemination and transfer of knowledge of Jewish history to the broader public by also employing methods of digital humanities are central components of the institute's work.

The MMZ is funded by the Ministry of Science, Research and Culture (MWFK). It is organized as a registered public association and members of ist board of trustees are: MWFK (State Secretary Tobias Dünow), University of Potsdam (Chair of the Board of Trustees: University President Prof. Oliver Günther, PhD), head of the Jewish Studies Department at the University of Potsdam (Prof. Dr. Johann Evangelist Hafner), Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy (Prof. Dr. Hans-Georg Wolf) and four members of the association (RA Benno Bleiberg, Rabbi Prof. Dr. Andreas Nachama).