On 16th February 1919, Franz Rosenzweig completed his book “The Star of Redemption.” In commemoration of this event, a large conference entitled “Back to Redemption: Franz Rosenzweig’s Star 1919-2019“ is taking place in Jerusalem from 17 – 20 February 2019. The Martin-Buber Chair for Jewish Thought and Philosophy at Goethe University in Frankfurt is one of the main organizers of the conference.
Franz Louis August Rosenzweig, born in Kassel in 1886, was the only child of a Jewish industrialist and city politician and his wife. He began studying medicine in 1905, before switching to a study of history and philosophy. His dissertation represents the first comprehensive critical analysis of Hegel’s political philosophy. In 1913, Rosenzweig grappled intensively with the question of whether to convert to Christianity, but decided against it in the end and dedicated himself to a concentrated study of Judaism. During World War I, he volunteered for medical service and was later with the artillery at the front in the Balkans – a formative experience. After the war, Rosenzweig turned his back on his historical studies and dedicated himself completely to establishing the House of Jewish Learning in Frankfurt am Main, whose goal was to demonstrate ways of Jewish life in the modern world. Rosenzweig’s book “Star of Redemption” was published in 1921. Already plagued by serious illness, Rosenzweig began a translation of the Jewish scriptures together with Martin Buber – a work whose expressive language remains fascinating to this day. Franz Rosenzweig died when he was only 43 years old in 1926.
“The Star of Redemption“ is considered a fundamental work of Jewish thinking in the 20th Century. The conference, organized by the Martin-Buber Chair for Jewish Thought and Philosophy along with the International Rosenzweig Society e.V. and the Franz Rosenzweig Minerva Research Center at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, will discuss “redemption” in light of Rosenzweig’s work. Approximately 100 researchers in history, philosophy and political science from Europe, Asia, North and Latin America will meet in Jerusalem to discuss the “Star”’s central concept of redemption and its significance for understand Judaism as well as its general relevance today. In addition to the historical, theological and historical-philosophical aspects, the interreligious dimension of the question of redemption in Judaism, Christianity and Islam will play a central role.
The lectures will not only concern themselves with the reconstruction and interpretation of Rosenzweig’s concepts, but also with the question of how Rosenzweig’s ideas have affected other philosophies and theologies, the relationship between messianism and politics, individual and collective redemption, and also with aesthetic aspects – for example in music. “What makes this conference unique is that world’s need for redemption, which in addition to the Jewish perspective is relevant for Christian, Muslim and secular viewpoints, can be reflected in all its diversity in the mirror of Rosenzweig’s thought,” says Christian Wiese, who currently holds the Martin Buber Chair for Jewish Thought and Religion, and is deputy chair of the International Rosenzweig Society.
The conference continues a longstanding, fruitful collaboration between the Martin Buber Chair and Franz Rosenzweig Minerva Research Center, a collaboration that is of great importance within the humanities. “The importance of the heritage of the early 20th Century German-Jewish culture as embodied by Rosenzweig being publically remembered in today’s Israel as a product close German-Israeli cooperation can hardly be exaggerated,” says Wiese. Equally significant is the symbolic importance of Jerusalem as event location. More than anyone else in the pre-Nazi era, Rosenzweig reflected on the relationship between German and Jewish culture, between Judaism and Christianity, and the tensions of a Jewish identity caught between exile and nation. To discuss the impulses of his thought in Jerusalem today is decisive with regard to the current Christian-Jewish and German-Israel dialogue.
The strong interest from a younger generation of researchers makes clear that Rosenzweig’s thinking is still relevant: a workshop for early-career researchers in Jewish religious philosophy financed by the Minerva Foundation is incorporated in the conference, and the speakers also largely belong to the younger international generation in this field of research, including several doctoral candidates and postdocs from Goethe University. Never have so many doctoral candidates and young postdocs actively taken part in a Rosenzweig congress: in total, 18 doctoral candidates and at least 22 postdocs will present research results in Jerusalem.
The conference is also part of a more extensive research strategy focusing on Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig. The Martin Buber Chair and Franz Rosenzweig Minerva Center will also organize a joint conference on Buber’s political thought to commemorate the 30-year anniversary of the Buber Chair.
The programme can be found at this link.