A protagonist of research into Jewish-Islamic relations

The inaugural conference of the new German-Israeli research center Frankfurt-Tel Aviv Center for Interreligious Studies was held in Frankfurt almost two years ago to the day; six months later, in Israel, the two university presidents officially signed the cooperation agreement between Goethe University Frankfurt and Tel Aviv University. Now the interdisciplinary Frankfurt-Tel Aviv Center in Frankfurt is holding the first Josef Horovitz Lecture, which is to take place annually from now on.

“The choice of name is anything but coincidental,” explains Christian Wiese, Martin Buber Professor of Jewish Philosophy of Religion at Goethe University, who founded and heads the Frankfurt-Tel Aviv Center together with Prof. Menachem Fisch from Tel Aviv University. Josef Horovitz (1874-1931), a Jewish Professor of Oriental Studies who grew up in Frankfurt, was considered to be the non-Islamic world’s foremost expert on the Qur’an at the time. He was also the founder of Oriental Studies in Frankfurt and a member of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s founding board of trustees. “Josef Horovitz was an outstanding protagonist of research into Jewish-Islamic relations and a committed advocate of international understanding in the spirit of enlightenment and mutual respect between religions,” says Wiese. “He thus embodies one of the central goals of our center’s interreligious research approach.” July 26, 2024, marks the 150th anniversary of Horovitz’s birth.  

The first “Annual Josef Horovitz Lecture for the Study of Interreligious Dynamics” entitled “Qohelet Illuminated: A New Reading and a New Seeing” will take place on Tuesday, July 2, 2024 at 6:15 p.m. in Goethe University Frankfurt’s Lecture Hall Center 10 (HZ 10), Westend Campus.

The lecture will be held by American artist Debra Band and renowned Tel Aviv philosopher Prof. Menachem Fisch, who will present their joint book Qohelet: Searching for a Life Worth Living (2023). Prof. Christian Wiese and Prof. Milette Shamir, Vice President of Tel Aviv University, will give welcoming addresses.

While Menachem Fisch’s lecture is entitled “Rationality Time Bound: Qohelet’s Pre-Revelatory Religious Philosophy”, Debra Band will discuss the visual design of the Book of Qohelet in her lecture “Approaching Qohelet: Developing the Modern Visual Midrash”. Both lectures will address the medieval tradition of illustration as well as postmodern theories on questions of life.

Menachem Fisch is Joseph and Ceil Mazer Professor Emeritus for the History and Philosophy of Science and Director of the Center for Religious and Interreligious Studies at Tel Aviv University as well as Senior Fellow of Goethe University Frankfurt’s Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften – Institute for Advanced Studies. His research focuses, among others, on the philosophy of Talmudic legal thought and the significance of Talmudic discourses for question of religious plurality and difference.

Debra Band’s work on Hebrew illuminated manuscripts stems from her enthusiasm for Hebrew manuscript art and biblical studies. A historian and political scientist by training, Debra Band’s artistic work is not only characterized by intellectual and spiritual depth as well as visual beauty, it includes illuminated and silhouetted books and manuscript pieces that have been featured in exhibitions throughout the English-speaking world.

The Josef Horovitz Lecture is organized by the Frankfurt Tel Aviv Center, the Buber-Rosenzweig Institute for Jewish Intellectual and Cultural History at Goethe University’s Faculty of Protestant Theology, and the “Dynamics of Religion” research network.

The lectures will be in English. More

Registration (at kramberger@em.uni-frankfurt.de) is desired but not a prerequisite for attendance. Participants should be prepared for security measures such as bag checks.

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