TAU, Goethe University launch first joint interfaith studies center

A year after the original announcement, the collaboration is finally getting underway.

 Prof. Ariel Porat, President of Tel Aviv University and Prof. Enrico Schleiff, the President of Goethe University. (photo credit: TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY)
Prof. Ariel Porat, President of Tel Aviv University and Prof. Enrico Schleiff, the President of Goethe University.
(photo credit: TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY)

The first joint center for the Study of interreligious dynamics by Tel Aviv University and Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany, will launch a year after the original agreement between the institutions was signed.

The agreement will be officially inaugurated during an upcoming international conference at TAU entitled “Thinking Interreligiously”. At the conference, six leading scholars in the emerging field of interreligious dynamics will present papers showcasing their specific approach to the subject.

The conference concludes with a round-table discussion about how to envisage the impact of interreligious studies on the study of religion more generally.

Growing academic collaboration

"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," said Prof. 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."

 TAU Prof. Menachem Fisch and Goethe University Frankfurt Prof. Christian Wiese. (credit: COURTESY TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY) TAU Prof. Menachem Fisch and Goethe University Frankfurt Prof. Christian Wiese. (credit: COURTESY TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY)

An example of growing academic collaboration between Israel and Germany, the center will promote research on religion, in particular the monotheistic faiths – a field in which both institutions specialize – 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.

"Tel Aviv University has a wide network of collaboration with German universities, more than with any other country in Europe," said Prof. 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,"

The plan was signed a year ago

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

“Our joint center is more than a scientific institution. In times of rising nationalism and antisemitism," said Prof. Schleiff. "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."

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