TAU and Goethe U. Establish Joint Interfaith Studies Center

New initiative inaugurated by Ambassador, bolsters German-Israeli academic cooperation
20 December 2021
TAU President Prof. Ariel Porat (left) and the German Ambassador to Israel Dr. Susanne Wasum-Rainer (Photo: TAU)

Tel Aviv University and Goethe University Frankfurt (GUF) signed an agreement on Thursday to establish a joint center for interfaith studies, the first of its kind in the world.  


The Center for the Study of Religious and Interreligious Dynamics will focus on monotheistic faiths, a field of expertise of both Universities, and will provide a framework for joint research, academic conferences and a dual-degree MA program in this field. 


The agreement is another step in the expansion of TAU’s prolific network of partnerships with German universities, making Germany the 2nd largest country in the world after the United States in the amount of academic collaborations.   


“The new Center will expand our collaboration in an important new direction and tighten our existing partnership with Goethe University Frankfurt, one of the leading universities in Germany. We hope that in near future GUF and TAU will expand cooperation to several other areas of common strength,” said Prof. Milette Shamir, TAU’s VP International. 


The Center will focus on the study of religious and interreligious dynamics in three monotheistic faiths—Judaism, Christianity and Islam—and their mutual development. It will also focus on modern problems of religious diversity, interreligious dialogue and conflict in pluralistic societies. 


 "Academic exchange and cooperation is not only a constitutive pillar of German-Israeli relations, but a contribution to strengthening research and scientific progress as a global endeavor, in science as well as in the humanities,” said German Ambassador to Israel Dr. Susanne Wasum-Rainer, speaking at the event. She added that the new Center will “address one of the urgent questions of our time: examining the role of religious communities in today’s changing and conflicted world.” 


President of the German Friends Association of TAU, Uwe Becker, attending via Zoom, added that “the agreement marks a new milestone in the special relationship between the two universities and serves as another bridge of understanding between Frankfurt and Tel Aviv. The new Center will contribute to better inter-religious dialogue from different angles and perspectives.”  


TAU’s academic cooperation with Germany began in the 1980’s, and currently includes more than 50 active agreements with German institutions. An average of 200 German students study at TAU annually, while another 100 participate in exchange programs.  


The signing was attended by TAU President Prof. Ariel Porat and Prof. Menachem Fisch, Director of TAU’s Center for Religious and Interreligious Studies, among others. GUF President Prof. Enrico Schleiff and Prof. Christian Wiese, Director of GUF’s Buber-Rosenzweig Institute, attended via Zoom.  


Thursday’s agreement was signed during Germany Week at TAU, which consisted of a series of academic and social events on campus, celebrating the country’s culture and scholarly heritage. 



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