Koret Foundation’s $10 million grant establishes Koret Center for Jewish Civilization at TAU

Left to right: Professor Youval Rotman, Professor Rachel Cinamon Gali, Dan Tadmor, Irina Nevzlin, Professor Ariel Porat, and Anita Friedman. Photo: Chen Galili.

Center founded in partnership with ANU - Museum of the Jewish People

Support Tel Aviv University

On May 15, The Koret Foundation announced a $10 million grant to establish the Koret Center for Jewish Civilization, a partnership between the foundation, Tel Aviv University (TAU), and ANU – Museum of the Jewish People (ANU). The center will employ a unique educational and cross-disciplinary approach to the challenges of contemporary Jewish thought, social engagement, and identity, as well as build dialogue and understanding between Jewish Israelis and those in the diaspora through an innovative approach to teaching about Judaism as an international community.

The Koret Center at TAU, Israel’s largest research university, will work to bridge divides and improve relationships between Jewish communities worldwide by centering on the common bonds that have united the Jewish people for millennia. Through an enhanced understanding of Jewish peoplehood from a global and historical perspective, this partnership seeks to strengthen the identity and education of Jews in Israel, the U.S., and globally.

Over the course of the five-year grant, the Koret Center will house and develop joint activities on contemporary Jewish thought, social engagement, and identity. It will reach academics, the general public, and Israeli school teachers through research, academic training and exchange, public events, and educational programming. TAU and ANU share a campus, a common vision, and now an integrated partnership.

“As a Jewish People, we’ve never before faced the types of 21st Century challenges we now face,” says Anita Friedman, President of the Koret Foundation. “But we are more hopeful than ever about the future. We know we are on the right path when we see a global Jewish philanthropy, Israel’s largest university, the world’s Museum of the Jewish People, and the Israel government all coming together in cooperation with many other Jewish organizations in common cause.”

“Along with deepening TAU’s dedication to fostering diversified and pluralistic Jewish Studies curricula, this new collaboration aligns with TAU’s mission to expand joint programs with leading academic and cultural institutions around the globe,” says TAU President Professor Ariel Porat. “Through the Koret Center for Jewish Civilization, we look forward to fueling valuable new perspectives for understanding the Jewish experience along with our campus partner, ANU, the largest and most comprehensive Jewish museum in the world. We are honored to have the Koret Foundation’s support for this initiative that will bring the latest academic knowledge on Jewish peoplehood to many groups in Israel and around the world.” 

This collaboration is the first of its kind in which a global academic institution, TAU’s Chaim Rosenberg School of Jewish Studies and Archaeology, has partnered with a world-class museum and education center, ANU – Museum of the Jewish People and ANU’s Koret International School for Jewish Peoplehood (named with a $10 million Koret grant in 2016). This partnership will take a multifaceted, innovative, and coordinated approach to use the individual strengths of each institution and leverage the exponential power of the collective. This groundbreaking structure of collaboration embodies the deep commitment by TAU, ANU, and Koret to lay a foundation that strengthens Jewish connections for generations to come.

The Koret Center’s shared programs will produce five online courses on Jewish civilization, provide internships at ANU for 100 TAU students, and establish two Biennial International Conferences of the Koret Center for Jewish Civilization, held at the end of the second and fourth years, with up to 300 live participants, and broadcast worldwide. The Israeli government, acutely aware of the growing disconnect between Israel and global Jewry, will lend critical support to the project. Collaborating with Israeli schools, the Koret Center will provide teachers across Israel with innovative programs and resources to enhance their students’ understanding of Jewish peoplehood.

“While many top universities house research institutes for Jewish Studies, the Koret Center will draw on TAU’s interdisciplinary strengths to fill the void when it comes to the study and teaching of Jewish Civilization and its historical significance,” says Professor Youval Rotman, Chair of the Chaim Rosenberg School of Jewish Studies and Archaeology. “By creating a new paradigm for the perception of Judaism’s place in history, today and in the future, the Koret Center also aims to enhance Jewish connectivity worldwide. We are delighted to work with ANU to propagate these new ideas and activities to expand the understanding of Judaism as a diverse, innovative, inclusive and dynamic civilization.”

Leveraging its strong track record and unique take on Jewish Studies, TAU will develop a new international graduate program in Jewish studies, collaborating with two major academic centers abroad in Europe and the U.S., and also offer 325 BA, MA, and PhD scholarships for pedagogy, teacher and leadership training. TAU will establish a Koret International Society of Fellows for 25 postdoctoral students, who will participate in a yearlong research seminar.

ANU will expand its Jewish peoplehood education for Israeli public-school educators and young people, supporting instruction for 50,000 Israeli teachers and leadership training for 40,000 professionals and lay leaders. It will establish a J-Hub accelerator to support 60 to 80 Jewish peoplehood projects, capitalizing on ANU visitors to test apps and initiatives developed, and will create an honors program for 240 Israeli high school students. It will also serve as the educational and cultural training center for initiatives such as Birthright Israel.

"We are honored to have the Koret Foundation’s support for this initiative that will bring the latest academic knowledge on Jewish peoplehood to many groups in Israel and around the world.”