Nature and Aims

The Center for Religious and Interreligious Studies at Tel Aviv University is founded on the idea that due to their revelational and theological entanglement, the three so-called Abrahamic faiths have developed since the inception of Christianity in fertile and fervid interaction. So much so that it is impossible to properly understand any significant moment in the life of any one of the three, without taking into serious account the real and imagined, conscious and unconscious give and take between the community under study and the other two. The Center is dedicated, therefore, to studying and teaching the three faiths interreligiously, rather than merely comparatively, as the developing outcomes of an intense, dynamic and complex process of interreligious interaction on all levels of religious life: exegetical, social, practical, liturgical, institutional, artistic, and theological.

The three religions are hence studied and taught at the Center side by side by experts in each of the main facets of each faith tradition, collaborating closely with one another both within their religions of expertise, and across the three interreligious divides. Such an undertaking requires an integrated effort involving the full range of the human and social sciences. And given its sheer scope and complexity, no university can hope to accomplish it alone.

The Center aims, therefore, at forging and promoting firm academic collaborations with like-minded research institutions world-wide. The first agreement of this kind was signed in 2010 with the University of Cambridge, where the Cambridge University Project for Religion in the Humanities (CUPRiH) was established for this purpose. CRIS and CUPRiH have since collaborated closely in organizing several workshops, symposia and full-fledged conferences at Tel Aviv and Cambridge devoted to the interreligious study of the three religions. A similar joining of forces is in the making with a group of senior researchers at the Goethe University, Frankfurt.

It is our sincere hope that in redirecting the study of religion from the well-honed methods of comparative religion toward a more dynamic and dialogical approach, we shall be achieving more than a viable and timely academic objective. For to study and teach the three religions interreligiously, is to direct constant attention to the formative role each of them played in the lives of the other two. This bears the promise, not only of dispelling  their all too often degrading and demonizing misrepresentations of one another, but, more significantly, of conveying a deep sense of their religious interdependence and value to one another; of how very differently they might have developed lacking the constant challenge they posed each other.

The Center comprises three main components that mirror its three main objectives: 

  • An adequately staffed and funded research institute dedicated to promoting cutting-edge research in groups of senior and junior researchers collaborating in all areas of interreligious studies, theoretical and historical. For details of the Center’s seminars, international workshops, colloquia, and bi-annual international conferences past and present, click here. It is our intention to join forces with our partners abroad in founding both a journal and monograph series devoted the dialogical approach to interreligious dynamics.
  • A graduate study program that will offer an elite research-track MA in interreligious studies, a related teacher-training programs, and a variety of course offerings. A percentage of the Center’s courses will be taught in English to encourage students from abroad.
  • A unit for interreligious dialogue and understanding devoted to hosting religious leaders, educators and clerics of the three Abrahamic religions at the Center, and allowing them the opportunity to study and deliberate with its faculty and with each other on religiously significant topics of timely interest and urgency in the spirit of the Center’s dialogical approach. To this end, the Center will seek to cooperate with similar centers and forums of interreligious of learning, such as the Shalom Hartman Theology Conference, and various forums of Scriptural Reasoning.
Tel Aviv University הפקולטה למדעי הרוח