TAU, German university to open joint interfaith studies center

The center will conduct research on the history of religious diversity and conflict in pluralistic societies, as well as  current issues within these societies.

(Left to right): Prof. Menachem Fisch, Prof. Milette Shamir, Prof. Ariel Porat, Susanne Wasum-Rainer & Prof. Youval Rotman (photo credit: COURTESY/TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY)
(Left to right): Prof. Menachem Fisch, Prof. Milette Shamir, Prof. Ariel Porat, Susanne Wasum-Rainer & Prof. Youval Rotman
(photo credit: COURTESY/TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY)

Tel Aviv University (TAU) and Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany, plan to open a joint interfaith studies center with an emphasis on research regarding religion, specifically monotheistic religions.

A signing of the agreement between the two universities was held at TAU, in attendance was TAU President Prof. Ariel Porat, Goethe University President Prof. Enrico Schleiff and German Ambassador to Israel Susanne Wasum-Rainer.

Schleiff was enthusiastic about the initiative, saying, "What we are agreeing upon today is, as far as I am aware, unprecedented – at least in the humanities in Germany. It is not merely formal cooperation between a German and an Israeli university, but rather the development of a highly visible, joint institutionalized international research center."

The center will conduct research on the history of religious diversity and conflict in pluralistic societies, as well as current issues within these societies, a subject of mutual interest for Germans and Israelis, Schleiff added.

TAU's Prof. Menachem Fisch, who leads the project at the Israeli university, called it a "worthy initiative" and said it will increase academic cooperation between Germany and Israel.

Tel Aviv University Students celebrate International German Week (credit: COURTESY/TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY)Tel Aviv University Students celebrate International German Week (credit: COURTESY/TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY)

German Ambassador to Israel Susanne Wasum-Rainer also expressed excitement about the initiative: "Academic exchange and cooperation is not only a constitutive pillar of German-Israeli relations," she said.

"It is also a contribution to strengthening research and scientific progress as a global endeavor, in science as well as in the humanities. By declaring their will to establish a joint Center for the Study of Religious and Interreligious Dynamics, the Goethe University Frankfurt am Main and the Tel Aviv University address one of the urgent questions of our time, the role of religious communities in a changing and conflictual world."

The announcement coincides with TAU's Germany Week, the first in a series of international events TAU is hosting promoting international cooperation and cultural diversity on campus.

Special events this week included a tour of German Jews at the ANU Museum of the Jewish People, a screening of German-born director Ernest Lubitsch's film The Oyster Princess and discussions about German literature, including poetry by Friedrich Rückert. The university also opened a Christmas market with the help of the German embassy.