TAU and Goethe University establish joint Center for the Study of Religious and Interreligious Dynamics

First-of-its-kind academic collaboration between Israel and Germany

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A full agreement establishing a joint Center for the Study of Interreligious Dynamics at Tel Aviv University (TAU) in Israel and Goethe University (GUF) in Frankfurt, Germany, will be signed during an inaugurating two-day international conference at TAU this month entitled “Thinking Interreligiously.” The center will promote research on religion, in particular the monotheistic faiths, with special attention to their mutual interactions at all levels of religious life. The two universities will conduct joint research, hold academic conferences, and train students and researchers in this area.

The agreement for launching the new center was signed in December 2021 in the course of Germany Week at TAU. The signing was attended by the German Ambassador to Israel Susanne Wasum-Rainer, TAU President Professor Ariel Porat, and President of Goethe University Professor Enrico Schleiff.

The “Thinking Interreligiously” conference comprises six working sessions in which six leading scholars in the emerging field of interreligious dynamics will present papers outlining their specific approach to the subject. Each paper will be responded to by two pre-assigned expert commentators, and then opened to an additional hour-long discussion. Professor Simon Goldhill of Cambridge University, a world-renowned classicist and long time partner to the interreligious studies initiative, will deliver a keynote lecture on “The Christian Invention of Time.” The conference concludes with a forward-looking round-table discussion of the impact of interreligious studies on the study of religion more generally.

“TAU has a wide network of collaboration with German universities, more than with any other country in Europe,” says Professor Milette Shamir, TAU’s VP in charge of international academic collaboration. “This collaboration includes hundreds of joint research projects, as well as hundreds of German students who come to our campus each year. The joint center expands this collaboration in an important new direction and tightens our existing partnership with Goethe University Frankfurt, one of the leading universities in Germany. We hope that in the near future GUF and TAU will expand collaboration to several other areas of common strength.”

“I am thrilled to be part of the establishment of a unique, first-of-its-kind center for the interreligious study of the monotheistic faiths and their mutual development,” continues Professor Menachem Fisch, who leads the initiative at TAU. “This is a worthy initiative, and one more building block in the academic collaboration between the two countries.”

“There is no better way to inaugurate a joint German-Israeli research center than with an intensive public discussion of its underlying theoretical objectives,” Professor Christian Wiese, who leads the initiative at Goethe University, says. “This conference marks the beginning of an exciting joint scientific and science policy journey in which we place great hope.”

“Our joint center is more than a scientific institution,” Professor Schleiff says. “In times of rising nationalism and anti-Semitism, this center’s opening is also an important sign of friendship and cooperation that we are sending out into the world. The academic topic we are jointly focusing on is highly relevant to both Germany and Israel: the history and current challenges of religious diversity, differences and conflict in pluralistic societies. Both our universities were already well positioned on this topic. Now they are combining their strengths to form a joint center that marks the start of an even more intensive cooperation, a development I am very pleased about. I would like to thank our partners in Tel Aviv and especially Professor Wiese for their tireless efforts to establish this groundbreaking institution.”


"This is a worthy initiative, and one more building block in the academic collaboration between the two countries."