Academic Colloquium Kicks Off Sincere Family Program Linking Wisconsin and Tel Aviv

Chicago philanthropists inaugurate unique joint program in Middle Eastern and Jewish studies
17 November 2014
Prof. Uzi Rabi (far left), Mr. Richard Sincere (fourth from left), Prof. Simone Schweber, Director of the Mosse/Weinstein Center (fifth from left) and members of the Tel Aviv and Wisconsin delegations

With the participation of academic delegations from both institutions, the inaugural colloquium of an innovative new program joining the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University (TAU) and the Mosse/Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison (CJS) was held on the TAU campus on November 10, 2014.


The five-year collaborative program is the brainchild of TAU Board of Governors member Richard Sincere and his wife, Debra. Sincere is an alumnus of both institutions and Secretary of the Board of Directors of American Friends of Tel Aviv University (AFTAU).


The program is designed to support academic cooperation, joint conferences and publications, and scholarly exchange programs in the fields of Jewish, Israel and Middle East studies. The specific research focus of the collaborative work will be “The Role of Religion in the Public Sphere – the Contemporary Middle East.” The colloquium’s first round of presentations on the subject by both groups included talks on women in the Arab Spring revolution and the Internet as a platform for public expression.


At the inauguration, Sincere (pictured below) said that he and Debra believe in investing in projects that can “make a difference. We established this program out of a belief that pooling the resources of both institutions could result in innovative research and projects than can help change the world.”  


The TAU component of the project, recently inaugurated as the Debra and Richard Sincere Tel Aviv University Project in Middle Eastern Studies, will award generous funding towards scholarships for TAU PhD students. 



Forging a partnership path

“The Sinceres’ program is a wonderful model for American Friends who have ‘twin passions’ in their lives,” said Gail Reiss, President & CEO of AFTAU. “It’s a way to enthusiastically support TAU in conjunction with a U.S. alma mater they also care deeply about — and strengthen both institutions at the same time. I hope we’ll see many more exciting occasions like this one.”


In his remarks, Prof. Uzi Rabi, Director of the Dayan Center said, “this robust multi-year program wouldn’t have been possible without the vision and generosity of Debra and Richard Sincere. It represents a major vote of confidence in the Dayan Center and reinforces the standing of TAU as a major global center of expertise in the field of Middle East studies.” 


Prof. Simone Schweber, Director of the Mosse/Weinstein Center and head of the Wisconsin delegation, said, “This is the beginning of a wonderful partnership and we are looking forward to having more faculty and students visiting here. Richard believes in offbeat projects that can get great results and this program embodies the hope, optimism and joy of working together despite the great differences in our academic makeup and geographic locations.”


TAU Vice President of Resource and Development Amos Elad emphasized that TAU is proud of its international connections with many top universities, and that the Dayan Center-Wisconsin program promises to produce excellent results.


Dayan Center master’s student Ben Mendales thanked the Sinceres for providing “us students with a tremendous opportunity to hear cutting edge scholarship in our fields and for helping us find our own personal directions as we embark on academic careers.”


As originally reported by AFTAU. 



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