Participants traced the dialectical process of the “iterations of the book,” and the articulation of this fascinating process in the world in general and in the Jewish world, in particular. Speakers discussed the drive to give written expression to human knowledge and thought that has accompanied the iterations of the book from letters chiseled into stone and wood to those being typed into the virtual “cloud”. The dialogue between humankind and books was discussed in depth, how it has constantly shifted forms in accordance with ever-changing circumstances and technologies, as well as the marvelous process that takes place when an individual expresses thoughts in a book, which then has the power to shape society and influence the lives of others.
Chairperson: Prof. Menahem Ben-Sasson
Speakers: Prof. Haim Cedar, Chancellor Arnold Eisen, Prof. Rachel Elior, Mr. Michael Handelzalts, Prof. David Stern.
“Literature is the human spirit's primary defense, it is therefore of the utmost importance to renew the National Library.”
- Prof. Rachel Elior
“Work with educators, curriculum designers to make the Jewish book part of Jewish education from middle school through the university level and adult education. The Jewish book is the most underutilized resource in Jewish education.”
- Prof. David Stern
Honorary Global Forum Chairman Mr. Shimon Peres, Ninth President of the State of Israel, examines treasures from the NLI collections.
Photo Credit: Hanan Cohen, The National Library of Israel
The discussion focused on the phenomenon whereby amid the wide range of written works, certain books have acquired a status above all others either because of the holiness attributed to them or because of their recognition as the most important, influential works in the shaping of cultures.
The participants discussed how these books are chosen, who grants them their authority, who is appointed to interpret them, the implications of this phenomenon, what issues it entails, and whether it will continue in the age of new media. In the Jewish context, the speakers discussed the impact of secularization and the establishment of a sovereign Jewish state on the status of the texts, as well as whether a diminished prominence of these texts might weaken the connection among people with a shared culture
Chairperson: Prof. Margalit Finkelberg
Opening remarks: Prof. Moshe Halbertal
Speakers: Prof. Robert Alter, Prof. Eva Illouz, Prof. Daniel Kahneman, Prof. Jonathan Lear.
"Maimonides warns against man's tendency to believe that all that which is written is also true. The status of the book is problematic if it is not accompanied by discussion. Therefore, a library also needs a place of study alongside it — a place where critical discussion of books, their contents, and of the library itself may take place.”
- Prof. Moshe Halbertal
NLI Islam and Middle East Collection Curator Dr. Raquel Ukeles welcomes Global Forum attendees with blessings from an ancient Islamic manuscript.
Photo Credit: Hanan Cohen, The National Library of Israel
Participants discussed the main impetuses behind the establishment of the first ancient libraries: the desire to preserve sacred written documents, the drive to deepen human knowledge, and of course, the desire of rulers to enhance their stature. Discussion centered around the preservation of books and libraries as subject to religious preference, ideological controversy, and destructive forces such as fire - both intentional and accidental. The manner in which ibraries operated throughout the ages and how they influenced the shaping of human knowledge was also discussed. The ways in which libraries enabled or limited accessibility to their collections were examined, as were the possible mpacts of digitization and new media on the function of modern libraries: Are we approaching an era in which the principles of "Open Access" will render the whole of human knowledge available to all, or will copyright and digital rights limitations present barriers to the democratization of knowledge? The session speakers also addressed questions related to how the National Library of Israel should function and which concrete steps it should take in order to most comprehensively fulfill its mission.
Chairperson: Ms. Annette Hochstein
Speakers: Prof. Peter Baldwin, Prof. Yochai Benkler, Prof. Peter N. Miller, Mr. Oren Weinberg.
“The Library, a center of learning, knowledge and humanity, will encourage and nurture the best parts of Israel’s democratic society. It will provide a fertile seedbed to help grow many more generations of great thinkers.” - Lord Rothschild
“Imagine the National Library of Israel became the most important digital resource in the Middle East, not just for Israel and its multifarious citizens, not just for Jews around the world, but for the entire region.” - Prof. Peter Baldwin
“The library is the laboratory of the humanist. We build enormous and expensive structures for the natural and physical sciences. The library is the equivalent for humanists.” - Prof. Peter N. Miller
An exchange of gifts at the President’s Residence. Left to right: Lord Alliance, Lord Rothschild, President Reuven Rivlin, NLI Board Chairman David Blumberg.
Photo Credit: Hanan Cohen, The National Library of Israel
The Jewish state's emergence from a history marked by slavery, destruction, exile, and the Holocaust, served as the background for this complex discussion. Speakers related to the dilemmas that have arisen as a result of the remarkable rebirth and establishment of the State of Israel and the return of the Jewish people to the international community of nations and the global geopolitical arena. The speakers addressed the question of how, in the face of the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict, the challenge is even greater to reconcile the prophetic teachings and values of the People of the Book with realpolitik driven by dispassionate interests. The nature of the moral compass and principles which must guide Israel in its relations with other nations was examined, as was the question of whether Israel must adhere to moral-ethical foreign and security policies, and how to reconcile the values of the People of the Book with the exigence to exercise force.
Chairperson: Prof. Ruth Arnon
Speakers: Elliot Abrams, Prof. Shlomo Avineri, Prof. Ruth Gavison, Prof, Daniel C. Kurtzer.
“How does a leader know what values should inform the exercise of the state's power? One of my favorite quotations from Psalms is: 'Selfless acts of kindness and truth met together, righteousness and peace kissed each other' (Psalms 85:11). The psalmist is not simply listing four ethical values, but apparently responding to a practical political problem.
- Prof. Daniel C. Kurtzer
“The National Library, like the Parliament, must be a shared space that gives citizens the feeling that there is indeed solidarity and representation."
Adv. Ali Haider
Prof. Daniel C. Kurtzer, who has served as U.S. ambassador to both Israel and Egypt, draws on ancient texts in discussing contemporary moral dilemmas.
Photo Credit: Hadrien Daudet
Renowned scholar of Jewish mysticism and legendary National Library librarian Gershom Scholem described the relationship between the book and the People of the Book as follows: “The Jewish People, whose existence did not merit any more attention than other ancient Near Eastern peoples who have long since ceased to exist, appeared in the historical arena accompanied with their Book. The people were inexorably intertwined with their Book in their own and in the world’s perception”. As "the Book" is, in its deepest sense, the central foundation of Jewish identity and continuity, speakers examined whether prevailing trends show that this will remain the case, and how the wisdom and values embodied in "the Book" should influence the contemporary reality of the People of the Book.
Chairperson: Prof. Anita Shapira
Opening remarks: Mr. Leon Wieseltier
Speakers: Prof. Meir Buzaglo, Prof, Fania Oz-Salzberger, Mr. Meir Shalev.
“The survival of Jewish civilization will not be secured by merely material means. Physical institutions are vulnerable to physical force… A book can be burned, but a word cannot be burned and neither can a concept.”
- Mr. Leon Wieseltier
Mr. Leon Wieseltier provides opening remarks at the fifth and final session.
Photo Credit: Hadrien Daudet
Various creative thinkers and leaders discussed their love of books and the place of books in their lives as writers and as readers.
Brig. Gen. (Res.) Yair Cohen spoke with former President Shimon Peres about his love of books and his thoughts about the “People of the Book.”
Other participants included poet Agi Mishol, Prof. Moshe Halbertal, Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, and musician Yoni Rechter.
“I am hopeful that the convening in Jerusalem of the Global Forum of the National Library of Israel will become a regular event in the life of our nation. The shared contemplation of books and their connection to the pressing issues of our day is critical to our identity and to our common future.”
- Mr. Shimon Peres, the Ninth President of the State of Israel
“At our house we almost never asked each other, 'How are you?', we asked, 'What are you reading now?' And we didn't ask, 'What are you doing tomorrow?', we asked, 'What will you read tomorrow?' My sweetest childhood memories involve books.”
- Ms. Zeruya Shalev
“Writing is the most twisted road to be loved.”
- Read by Ms. Agi Mishol from her poem "Lichtov"
Dance performance at the closing event, “In Praise of the Book”
Photo Credit: Hadrien Daudet
The National Library of Israel must strive to become a vibrant meeting place and center of activity for broad and diverse publics in Israel and throughout the world, including:
The Jewish community in Israel and internationally; all citizens of Israel, Jews and Arabs, members of all religious and ethnic groups, speakers of all languages; men, women, youth and adults.
The National Library of Israel must be a key and active partner in all things related to the world of the book, thus ontributing to the formulation of a Jewish identity with the book at its core.
The National Library of Israel must consider establishing centers for learning and research and actively support them:
A center for the Jewish book; a national center for the Humanities; an educational framework that will enable students and creative non-academics to study and work in the Library, bringing its contents to life and making them accessible and relevant in new and creative ways.
A cultural center facilitating encounters among lovers of literature and culture.
A framework for the discussion of new books.
The National Library of Israel must act to foster reading among the public.
The National Library of Israel must actively advocate for the democratization of knowledge and the advancement of public discourse.
The National Library of Israel must become a leader in promoting these recommendations in the world of new media,
digital books, and digital content.
Ruth Arnon is the Paul Ehrlich Professor of Immunology at the Weizmann Institute of Science where she also served as the vice-president (1988-1997). She is a member and presently serves as the President of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities and was previously chair of the sciences division. She holds positions on many international scientific bodies and in the past served as science advisor to the president of Israel. She has been a visiting scientist at numerous prestigious international institutions. She has made significant contributions to the fields of vaccine development, cancer research and to the study of parasitic diseases and has received many prizes for her work, including the Wolf Prize in Medicine (1999), for her joint work in developing Copaxone®, a drug for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, and the Israel Prize in Medical Research (2001).
Robert Alter is emeritus professor of Hebrew and comparative literature in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He is, in addition, founding director of Berkeley’s Center for Jewish Studies. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Philosophical Society, among others. He has held numerous visiting appointments at institutions worldwide. Awarded an honorary doctorate from Yale University (2010), he is the recipient of many prizes and distinctions including the Robert Kirsch Award from the Los Angeles Times for lifetime contribution to American letters (2009) and the Charles Homer Haskins Prize for career achievement from the American Council of Learned Societies (2013). Many of his books have been translated into various languages and he is most recently noted for his translations of sections of the Bible.
David Agus is a professor of medicine and engineering at the University of Southern California where he is the director of both the Westside Cancer Center and the Center for Applied Molecular Medicine. One of the world’s leading cancer doctors and pioneering biomedical researchers, he is known for his innovations in medicine and contributions to new technologies. In addition to co-founding two revolutionary genomic and proteomic companies, Navigenics and Applied Proteomics, he is also the author of two books which have received wide international acclaim, The End of Illness (2012) and A Short Guide to a Long Life (2014).
Shlomo Avineri is a professor of political science at the Hebrew University and member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. In addition to many visiting appointments at various prominent universities, he is also a former director general of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He is the recipient of many prestigious prizes including the Israel Prize for political science (2006) and an honorary doctorate from the Weizmann Institute (2010) and the EMET Prize 2013. His numerous books on Hegel, Marx and Zionist thought have been translated into various languages. Most recently, he has published an intellectual biography Herzl: Theodor Herzl and the Foundation of the Jewish State (2013).
Faisal Azaiza is a professor at the University of Haifa where he heads the School of Social Work, specializing in Jewish-Arab relations and the welfare, education and health of minority populations. He is also a member of the board of the International Association of Schools of Social Work IASSW. Among his many public positions, he is chair of the Committee for Promoting Accessibility of Higher Education for the Arab Population, having previously served as head of the Haifa University’s Jewish-Arab Center and mayor of the municipality of Daburiyya. He has been extremely active in the establishment and management of welfare projects in the Arab sector and also founded Sikkuy, the Association for the Advancement of Civic Equality.
Judit Liwerant is Full Professor at the Faculty of Political and Social Sciences, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She has headed the Graduate School in Political and Social Sciences along the last decade and is currently the Director and Editor of the Mexican Journal of Political and Social Sciences and co-editor of the Book Series Jewish Identities in a Changing World (Brill). She is a member of the Mexican Academy of Science and a member of the National Research System; her areas of interest are political theory; collective identities and globalization processes; contemporary Jewish identities; Jewish communities in Latin America. Her works include Reconsidering Israel- Diaspora Relations (edited with Eliezer Ben Rafael and Yosef Gorny, 2014); Belonging and Otherness. Jews of/in Latin America (Ed., 2011); Identities in an Era of Globalization and Multiculturalism (2008); Identity, Society and Politics (Sp). with Saúl Velasco, (2008); Community, Society and Politics. Pathways of Latin American Jews (Forthcoming). She has been visiting professor at international universities (among others, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales; McGill University; Arizona State University).
Nahum Barnea is one of Israel’s leading journalists with a weekly column in Yediot Aharonot, Israel’s largest circulating daily newspaper. He has edited and written for various newspapers throughout his long career in journalism and is renowned for his unique style which combines journalistic coverage with extensive commentary. He is the recipient of many prestigious prizes including the Sokolov Prize for Journalism (1981) and the Israel Prize for Communications (2007). He was, in addition, chosen in 1998 as the most influential Israeli journalist since the founding of the state. He has published three books of his collected articles.
Born in 1949, Mr. Braginsky has more than 40 years of experience in banking. He currently runs his own boutique finance office in Zurich. Together with his wife he founded the René and Susanne Braginsky-Foundation 28 years ago, which supports social and cultural projects in Switzerland and Israel. As a past president of Keren Hayesod Switzerland and Yakir award winner, he also headed the Swiss Society of Friends of the Weizmann Institute of Science for many years and was awarded an honorary degree from the Weizmann Institute of Science in 2012. He is also known for his fine collection of old Hebrew manuscripts and illuminated books, the most exquisite of which were showcased in Amsterdam, Berlin, Jerusalem, New York and Zurich.
Yochai Benkler is the Berkman Professor of Entrepreneurial Legal Studies at Harvard Law School and faculty co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, having served as a law professor both at Yale and NYU. Since the 1990s he has played a role in characterizing the role of information commons and decentralized collaboration to innovation, information production, and freedom in the networked economy and society. He is the recipient of the Oxford Internet Institute Lifetime Achievement Award (2012) and the Ford Foundation Visionaries Award (2012) among other prizes, winning also various awards for his book The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom (2006) which has been translated into several languages.
Peter Baldwin is a professor of history at UCLA and Global Distinguished Professor at NYU. Since receiving his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1986, his main scholarly interest has been the development of the modern state. He has pursued that theme in a number of publications on social policy including The Politics of Social Solidarity (1990) and on public health, Contagion and the State in Europe (1999) and Disease and Democracy (2005). He has also published a comparison between the US and Europe, The Narcissism of Minor Differences (2009), and has just finished a transnational history of copyright, just published by Princeton The Copyright Wars: Three Centuries of Trans-Atlantic Battle.
Meir Buzaglo is a lecturer in the department of philosophy and director of the Institute for Innovation in Education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The areas he researches include the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of physics, the philosophy of language and the philosophy of Judaism.
Menahem Ben-Sasson is currently serving his second term as the president of the Hebrew University. A professor of the history of the Jewish people, he was previously rector and deputy dean of humanities. He was, in addition, a member of the Knesset for the Kadima party (2006-2009). He has also served on the board of directors at Yad Vashem, and as president of the World Union of Jewish Studies, vice-president of the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture and chair of the Ben-Zvi Institute. His honors include an honorary doctorate from the Jewish Theological Seminary, as well as the Yitzhak Ben-Zvi Prize for Jewish History and the Feher Prize for the Study of Jewish Heritage (1997). He is the author of numerous publications in the field of medieval Jewish history in Muslim lands.
Prof. Howard Cedar is professor emeritus in the Department of Developmental Biology and Cancer Research at the Hebrew University where he has been a full professor since 1981. He received his MD and Ph.D. in microbiology from NYU in 1970. He was elected to the European Molecular Biology Organization in 1982, received the Israel Prize in 1999, and became a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences in 2003. His awards and distinctions include the Hestrin Award for Biochemistry (1979), the Hebrew University Outstanding Investigator Award (1991), the Wolf Prize in Medicine (2008), the Emet Prize in Life Sciences (2009), the Gairdner International Award (2011), and the Rothschild Prize (2012)
Rabbi Cherlow is a Zionist-Orthodox rabbi. He founded and serves as the head of the Amit Orot Shaul Yeshiva. Rabbi Cherlow was also among the founders of the Tzohar organization, which seeks to build bridges between the secular and religious worlds. He is an expert on ethics, and a member of various ethics committees in Israel, such as the Supreme Helsinki Committee on Medical and Genetic Experiments Involving Human Subjects, and serves on the presidency of the Israel Press Council. In addition, Rabbi Cherlow serves as the head of the Ethics and Religion Desk at the Jerusalem Center for Ethics. Rabbi Cherlow has authored many books and articles dealing with public morality, and reviving the Torah in contemporary life. He is known for his responses to questions of Jewish law on the popular Israeli Internet sites "Moreshet" and "Kippa"
Nissim Calderon is a professor of Hebrew literature at Ben Gurion University where he specializes in contemporary Hebrew literature, Israeli multiculturalism, and the connection between Hebrew poetry and popular music. He received his Ph.D. from Tel Aviv University in 1980. He is an active participant in many cultural activities and regularly publishes essays and book reviews. He has, in addition, authored numerous books, receiving the Bahat Prize for Multiculturalism versus Pluralism in Israel (2000). He is presently working on a biography of Meir Ariel.
Former commander of Unit 8200, the central military intelligence and cyber unit of the Israeli Defense Forces, Yair Cohen is the head of the intelligence and cyber solutions division at Elbit Systems Ltd, an international defense electronics company. He previously served as vice president of the leading technology holding company Elron Electronic Industries Ltd. and of Clal Energy, and sat on the boards of several companies in both the Elron and IDB Groups. He also served as chair of the board of ECtel Ltd. He spoke at the 2013 Israeli Presidential Conference on the subject of the characteristics of the future battlefield, “Tomorrow’s Wars – No Longer Science Fiction.”
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Arnold Eisen, one of the world’s foremost authorities on American Judaism, is the chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS). He previously served at the universities of Stanford, Tel Aviv and Columbia, having received his Ph.D. from the Hebrew University. Since his appointment in 2007, he has made significant changes in the education of professional and lay leaders for Conservative Judaism and enhanced JTS’s reputation and global reach. He has expanded the digitization of JTS’s resources, directing the launch of Learn, JTS’s online learning site, and many additional JTS websites. His many publications include Taking Hold of Torah: Jewish Commitment and Community in America (1997) and the award winning Rethinking Modern Judaism: Ritual, Commandment, Community (1998).
Rachel Elior is the John and Golda Cohen Professor of Jewish Philosophy at the Hebrew University, specializing in the history of Jewish mysticism. As well as serving twice as chair of the Department of Jewish Thought, where she has been a member of faculty since 1978, she is also a senior research fellow at the Van Leer Institute. She has held visiting appointments at many prestigious universities, including Princeton University, Tokyo University and University of Chicago. Among her many awards, she is the 2006 recipient of the Gershom Scholem Prize for Research in Kabbalah from the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. She is the author of numerous publications, her most recent book being Israel Ba’al Shem Tov and His Contemporaries: Kabbalists, Sabbatians, Hasidim and Mitnaggedim (2014).
Margalit Finkelberg is a professor of classics at Tel Aviv University and a member of the Israeli Academy of Sciences and Humanities. She is the President of the Israeli Society for the Promotion of Classical Studies. She has held various visiting appointments at the universities of Oxford, Princeton and British Columbia. She is the recipient of the Rothschild Prize in the Humanities for 2012. She specializes in the language, literature and culture of ancient Greece, in particular the poetry of Homer, and her numerous publications include The Birth of Literary Fiction in Ancient Greece (1998) and Greeks and Pre-Greeks: Aegean Prehistory and Greek Heroic Tradition (2005).
Osvaldo Golijov's compositions are regularly performed around the world by leading soloists, ensembles and orchestras. He is currently working on a music-theatre work for Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble.
Alice Gottesman is vice president of The Gottesman Fund, a private family foundation which supports cultural, medical, and educational institutions in the US. The foundation is also dedicated to enhancing and perpetuating Jewish life in both America and Israel. In addition, Alice chairs the board of the JCC in Manhattan and serves on the board of Smithsonian's Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum and chairs its education committee. She is a professional goldsmith.
Ruth Gavison is a law professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her areas of research include ethnic conflict, the protection of minorities, human rights, political theory, judiciary law, religion and politics, and Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.
Micah Goodman, a lecturer in Jewish thought at the Hebrew University and senior research fellow at the Hartman Institute, heads the Ein Prat Academy for Leadership, Israel’s foremost pluralistic Bet Midrash for young adults. A prominent thinker and leading voice on Judaism, Zionism, the Bible, and the challenges facing Israel and world Jewry today, he is the author of two bestselling books: The Secrets of the Guide for the Perplexed (2011) and The Dream of the Kuzari (2012). In addition to numerous awards for his publications, he is a 2014 recipient of the Marc and Henia Liebhaber Prize for Religious Tolerance.
Michael Handelzalts is a widely read Israeli journalist, theater critic, translator and editor with a weekly column in the Haaretz daily newspaper. In 1975 Handelzalts first started to write theatre reviews for the paper, and in 1981 he joined the editorial board as a theatre reviewer and editor. In addition to the various sections of the newspaper in which he was involved as a contributor and editor, Handelzalts was also the founder and first editor of the newspaper's esteemed Book Review Magazine. He is the recipient of Israel's Sokolov Prize for Journalism. He has also translated books from Polish and English into Hebrew.
A renowned lecturer and educator, Rabbi Shai Held is co-founder, dean, and chair in Jewish Thought at Mechon Hadar, previously serving as scholar-in-residence at Kehilat Hadar and director of education at Harvard Hillel. Having received his Ph.D. from Harvard, he has taught and lectured at many Jewish institutions across the US and Israel, including the Jewish Theological Seminary, the Hartman Institute and the Wexner Foundation. He is the recipient of the Covenant Award for Excellence in Jewish Education (2011). His main academic interests are modern Jewish and Christian thought, and his various publications include Abraham Joshua Heschel: The Call of Transcendence (2013).
David Weiss Halivni is an American-Israeli rabbi and Talmud scholar. He served as a professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, and subsequently as Littauer Professor of Talmud and Classical Rabbinics in the Department of Religion at Columbia University. He is currently a professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and at Bar-Ilan University. Halivni has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 1993, and was awarded the Israel Prize in 2008. He has written a series of books of commentary on the Talmud, books on the philosophy of the sages, and on Jewish theology following the Holocaust
Ali Haider served in the past decade as co-director of Sikkuy, the Association for the Advancement of Equal Opportunity (between the Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel). In this capacity he ran several projects, including the Equality Index. He initiated and led the Project to Develop Leadership and Community Entrepreneurship in the Arab Sector and worked as an attorney for several human rights organizations. Ali was a co-author of the Future Vision of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel documents (2006). He is a founder and active member of many civil society organizations, including the Arab Pedagogic Council, Adalah, the I’lam Center, and the Center for Social Justice. Ali holds an LLB and LLM from Bar-Ilan University and an MA in political science from the University of Haifa. He studied human rights and Israeli society at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for one year, and studied journalism for a year at Ha’aretz. Ali is interested in a number of topics, including human and civil rights, public policy, and philosophy (especially Islamic philosophy). He contributes frequent opinion pieces to the Arabic, Hebrew, and English press.
Moshe Halbertal is an Israeli Jewish philosopher, professor, and writer, and a noted expert on Maimonides. He is co-author of the Israeli Army Code of Ethics.
Yair Hamburger is chair of the board of Harel Insurance Investments & Financial Services Ltd., having served as the CEO from its establishment in 1975 until 2010. He is credited with growing the small insurance firm into the third largest elementary insurance company in Israel. He is, in addition, the chair of Kaedan Capital Ltd., Harel PIA Mutual Funds Ltd., Connex Jerusalem Ltd. and Harel Insurance Company Ltd. He was awarded an honorary degree from Netanya Academic College in recognition of his work in furthering insurance and his contribution to social causes in various spheres of Israeli society.
Moshe Idel is the Max Cooper Professor of Jewish Thought at the Hebrew University and a senior researcher at the Hartman Institute. A member of the Israeli Academy of Science and Humanities, he served also as president of the World Union of Jewish Studies. He has held visiting positions at many institutions including the universities of Yale, Harvard and Princeton. Among his numerous awards and distinctions are the Israel Prize for Jewish Thought (1999) and the Rothschild Prize (2012) for his transformative research into Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism. He has, in addition, been awarded honorary doctorates from a number of universities. Author of many publications, his book Ben: Sonship and Jewish Mysticism was winner of the 2007 National Jewish Book Award.
Israeli novelist Assaf Inbari is renowned for his bestselling novel Home (2009) which relates the history of Kibbutz Afikim from its founding to the present day. Home was published to great acclaim, receiving the Israel Book Publishers Association's Platinum Prize (2010) and being shortlisted for the Sapir Prize (2010). He received his Ph.D. in Hebrew literature from Bar Ilan University in 2008 and has written extensively on the subject of Israeli literature and Jewish identity. He lectures at both Kinneret College and Kibbutzim College.
Eva Illouz is the author of 80 articles and book chapters, and of 10 books translated in 16 languages; the recipient of numerous International awards. Eva Illouz was a member of the Wissenshaftskolleg zu Berlin in 2007, and is a Professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Directeur d'Etudes at the EHESS, Paris. She holds a Chair of Excellence, Paris Sciences Lettres.
Abby Joseph Cohen is a partner at Goldman Sachs where she is the president and senior investment strategist of the Global Markets Institute. Her work focuses on the intersection of economics, financial markets, and government policy. She also serves as chair of the board of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. She is, in addition, a presidential councillor at Cornell University and sits on the board of the Weill Cornell Medical College, the Economic Club of New York, the Brookings Institution, and the Smithsonian Institution, among others. She has received several honorary doctorates and her career is the subject of a Harvard Business School case study.
Michael M. Karayanni is the Bruce W. Wayne Professor of Law at the Faculty of Law, Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He was the director of the Harry and Michael Sacher Institute for Legislative Research and Comparative Law and the Minerva Center for Human Rights. Prof. Karayanni held visiting positions at Stanford Law School, Yale Law School and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. His research interests are in private international law and inter-religious law, multiculturalism and civil procedure. His most recent publications include "Conflicts in Conflict, A Conflict of Laws Case Study of Israel and the Palestinian Territories" (Oxford University Press, 2014).
Daniel Kahneman is professor emeritus of psychology and public affairs at Princeton University, senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and a fellow at the Center for Rationality at the Hebrew University. He is a member of the National Academy of Science, the Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, among others. Renowned for his work on behavioral economics and hedonic psychology, he is best known for his work with Amos Tversky on human judgment and decision making for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002. He has, in addition, received many other awards, including the Grawemeyer Prize (2002) and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2013). He holds honorary degrees from numerous universities. His recent book Thinking Fast and Slow (2011) was a New York Times bestseller and winner of the National Academy of Sciences Best Book Award (2012).
Daniel C. Kurtzer is the S. Daniel Abraham Professor of Middle East Policy Studies at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He received his PhD from Columbia University. During his 29-year career in the US Foreign Service, he served as US ambassador to Israel and to Egypt and played key roles in shaping US policy in the Middle East peace process. He is the recipient of distinguished service awards from both the President and the Secretary of State. He is the co-author of Negotiating Arab-Israeli Peace: American Leadership in the Middle East (2008) and The Peace Puzzle: America’s Quest for Arab-Israeli Peace, 1989-2011 (2013).
Yosef Kaplan is professor emeritus of the history of the Jewish people at the Hebrew University where he was one of the founders of the School of History and subsequently held many senior positions. He also serves as chair of the humanities division of the Israeli Academy of Science and Humanities. He has had visiting appointments at many prestigious universities. He is the recipient of many prizes and distinctions including the Israel Prize for his work on the history of the Jewish people (2013). He is the author of numerous publications on subjects such as medieval Jewish history, the Sephardi diaspora, and ideological ferment in the early Jewish enlightenment.
Nidaa Khoury is a poet, translator, critique and literary scholar, born in Fassouta in Israel's Upper Galilee. Khoury is a senior lecturer in Ben-Gurion University and has written numerous poetry books in her native Arabic, many of which have been translated into various languages. Among these are Kitab al-khataya (The Book of Sins) (2011), Kitab al-khalal (Book of Defect) (2011), and Be-Guf Akher (In another Body), an anthology of poems translated into Hebrew (2011). Her book The Bitter Crown (1997) was censored in Jordan. Khoury has served as a coordinator of the High Follow-up Committee for Arab Citizens in Israel, she was founder and director of the NGO Survival working on behalf of minorities in Israel, and is active in Al-Nuhud, an association for the promotion of Bedouin women. Among the prizes she has been awarded are the Literature Prize from the Ministry of Culture (2000), and The Levi Eshkol Memorial Prize for Hebrew Authors (2012).
Mark Lilla is a political scientist and professor of humanities at Columbia University, specializing in intellectual history with a particular focus on Western political and religious thought. Before moving to Columbia in 2007, he taught at the University of Chicago and at NYU. He is a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books, the New York Times, and New Republic and is well known for his books The Reckless Mind: Intellectuals in Politics (2001), which has recently been translated into Hebrew, and the highly acclaimed The Stillborn God: Religion, Politics, and the Modern West (2007) based on the Carlyle Lectures he delivered at Oxford University in 2003.
Sam Lipski is an Australian journalist who has served in many positions in television, radio, newspapers and magazines. Among his many positions, he was editor-in-chief of the Australian Jewish News (1987-1998) and has worked as a reporter and columnist for daily newspapers such as The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. He was also the Washington correspondent for The Jerusalem Post (1970-1973). He is, in addition, chief executive of The Pratt Foundation and served as president of the board of the State Library of Victoria (2000-2006). The Australian broadcasting industry recognized him as National News Commentator of the Year (1982) and in 1993 he became a Member of the Order of Australia for his service to the media.
Rabbi Dr. Benny Lau is the rabbi of the modern orthodox Ramban synagogue in Jerusalem and a fellow of the Israel Democracy Institute where he heads the human rights and Judaism in action project. His extensive activities in rabbinics, teaching, and social action include founding and heading a pioneering Beit Midrash and Halachah program for women, serving as the rabbi of two prominent religious schools in Jerusalem, and co-founding the social action organization Maaglei Tzedek. He also founded the Institute for Social Justice at Beit Morasha. With a Ph.D. in Talmud from Bar Ilan University, he has published numerous books and articles on Jewish heritage.
Jonathan Lear is the John U. Nef Distinguished Service Professor on the Committee on Social Thought and professor of philosophy at the University of Chicago. He works primarily on philosophical conceptions of the human psyche from Socrates to the present.
Possibly Israel's most popular living poet, Agi Mishol was born to Holocaust survivor parents in Transylvania and was brought to Israel at the age of four. She is the author of 17 volumes of poetry. Mishol won the Israeli Prime Minister Prize in 1995, the Kugel literary award in 2000, the Yehuda Amichai Prize in 2002 and the Dolitsky Prize in 2007.
Avishai Margalit is the Schulman Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the Hebrew University where he has been a member of faculty since 1970. He has held various visiting appointments at prestigious universities, serving as the George F. Kennan Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (2006-2011). A member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, he is known not only as a thinker and commentator on the contemporary human condition but also as a peace activist with profound observations on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He is the recipient of numerous distinctions including the EMET prize (2007), and Israel Prize for Philosophy (2011). He was awarded the FIPH 2012 Philosophical Book Award from the Hannover Institute of Philosophical Research for his most recent book On Compromise and Rotten Compromises (2009).
Peter N. Miller is professor of history and dean and chair of academic programs at Bard Graduate Center, having received his Ph.D. from Cambridge University in 1990. He has held various visiting appointments and is a past fellow of both the MacArthur and the Guggenheim Foundations. Known for his expertise in intellectual history, he has written many books on philosophical and methodological issues in the history of historiography and cultural history including Defining the Common Good: Empire, Religion and Philosophy in Eighteenth-Century Britain (1994, 2004) and Peiresc's Orient: Antiquarianism as Cultural History in the Seventeenth Century (2012).
Political scientist Dominique Moisi is the co-founder and a senior advisor of the French Institute of International Affairs (IFRI). He has served as a professor at L'Institut d'études politiques de Paris, and a visiting professor both at Harvard and at the College of Europe in Natolin. He is a member of the International Advisory Council of the Moscow School of Political Studies and of the European Council on Foreign Relations. Former editor-in-chief and current editorial board member of Politique étrangère, Moisi regularly contributes op-ed articles and essays to various renowned international publications. He is also the author of The Geopolitics of Emotion: How Cultures of Fear, Humiliation and Hope are Reshaping the World (2010).
Rabbi Baroness Julia Neuberger DBE is senior rabbi at West London Synagogue and was the second woman rabbi in the UK, the first worldwide to have her own congregation. She is a member of the House of Lords and a social commentator, writing and broadcasting on a variety of social and religious issues. Among her many voluntary and philanthropic positions, she is a trustee of the Van Leer Foundation and of the Walter and Liesel Schwab Charitable Trust for the education of young asylum seekers and refugees, set up in memory of her parents. Her book The Moral State We're In (2005) is a study of morality and public policy in modern day Britain.
Fania Oz-Salzberger is a professor of history in the faculty of law at the University of Haifa where she also heads the Posen Research Forum for Jewish European and Israeli Political Thought. She is active on the advisory boards of the Israel Democracy Institute and the German-Israeli Future Forum. She has held visiting appointments at Monash University and Princeton among other academic institutions. She is the author of many publications in her specialized field of the history of ideas and political thought including Israeli in Berlin (2001), and the more recent Jews and Words (2012) which she co-authored with her father, the writer Amos Oz.
Jay Pomrenze was a managing director of Bankers Trust Company and a member of the management committee, head of worldwide foreign exchange activities, and later of all trading. With the sale of Bankers Trust to Deutsche Bank in 1999, he was retained as a consultant to Deutsche Bank. He is a co-founder of KCPS Clarity, an Israel based asset management firm, where he is currently an active partner and chief strategist. He received his MBA from NYU and an MA in philosophy, in addition to his rabbinical ordination, from Yeshiva University in 1973.
During his life of public service, Shimon Peres has held every position of note in Israel’s government and Knesset. During his term as Prime Minister, Israel withdrew from Lebanon and an economic stabilization plan was implemented. As Israel’s Minister of Foreign Affairs he played a leading role in the Oslo Accords, which earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994. In 2007 he became The Ninth President of the State of Israel. Today, he continues to serve at the Peres Center for Peace.
Diana Pinto is an historian and writer living in Paris. Her work has focused mainly on multiple identities inside pluralist democracies. In this context she has written and lectured widely on Jewish life in contemporary Europe. Her latest book "Israel Has Moved" (2013), a cultural-political reflection on Israel’s changing coordinates.
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Leading author Zeruya Shalev has an MA in Biblical Studies and works as a literary editor at Keter Publishing House. Her novels Love Life, Husband and Wife, Thera and The Remains of Love have received critical acclaim both in Israel and abroad and have been bestsellers in several countries. She has been awarded the Book Publishers Association's gold and platinum prizes, the Corine Prize (Germany, 2001), the Prix Amphi (France, 2003), the ACUM Prize twice (1997; 2005), the Die Welt Prize (Germany, 2012), the Prime Minister's Prize (2014) and the Prix de Rome (2014). Her books have been translated into twenty-two languages.
David Stern is the Moritz and Josephine Berg Professor of Classical Hebrew Literature at the University of Pennsylvania where he served for many years as director of the Jewish Studies Program. He is also on the executive committee of the American Academy of Jewish Research. He has held visiting appointments at various institutions including Princeton and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is the recipient of various awards and fellowships for his work on classical Jewish literature and religion, and the history of the Jewish book, and has many publications in the field, including Midrash and Theory: Ancient Jewish Exegesis and Contemporary Literary Studies (1998) and the forthcoming The Jewish Library.
Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz is a noted teacher, philosopher, social critic, and author. Founding the Israel Institute for Talmudic Publications in 1965, he began his life’s mission of translating the Talmud into Modern Hebrew, making it accessible to all Jews. He, in addition, established a network of educational institutions in Israel and is the founder of the Jewish University in the former Soviet Union. He has held visiting appointments at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He has been awarded many prizes and distinctions, among them the Israel Prize for Jewish Studies (1988) and the President's Prize (2012). He is, in addition, the recipient of honorary doctorates from various institutions including Bar Ilan University and Brandeis University.
Leading columnist and writer Ari Shavit is a senior correspondent at Haaretz and a member of its editorial board. Prior to joining the newspaper in 1995, he wrote for the progressive weekly Koteret Rashit and served as chair of the Association of Civil Rights in Israel. His recently published memoir My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel (2013) was published to great international acclaim and spent several weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, described as one of the ten best books of the year. Hailed as groundbreaking and transformative, it was awarded the 2013 Natan Book Award.
Sasson Somekh is professor emeritus of modern Arabic literature at Tel Aviv University. On receiving his Ph.D. from Oxford University, he became a member of Tel Aviv University faculty and held the Helmos Chair for Arabic Literature for many years. He also served as head of the Israeli Academic Center in Cairo (1995-1998) and had visiting appointments at various universities. He is the recipient of numerous awards, among them an honorary doctorate from Ben Gurion University (2004) and the Israel Prize for Middle Eastern Studies (2005). He is the author of numerous books and articles, as well as many translations from Arabic to Hebrew.
American diplomat and attorney Stuart Eizenstat is a partner at the Washington, DC law firm Covington & Burling LLP and heads their international practice. He is also co-chair of board of directors of the Jewish People Policy Institute. He served in three US government administrations, holding a number of key senior positions including President Jimmy Carter’s chief domestic policy adviser (1977-1981), US Ambassador to the European Union (1993-1996), President Clinton’s deputy secretary of the treasury (1999-2001), undersecretary of commerce for international trade (1996-7) and undersecretary of state for economic, business and agricultural affairs (1993-2001). He has received several honorary doctorates and numerous high civilian awards.
Natan Sharansky, one of the most famous former Soviet Union refuseniks, is the chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel. A leader in the struggle for the right of Soviet Jews to immigrate to Israel, Sharansky went on to found the Yisrael B’Aliyah political party and served in four successive Israeli governments as a minister and deputy prime minister. He is the author of three bestselling books, including a memoir Fear No Evil (1988) which has been translated into several languages, and is the recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor (1986) and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2006).
Anita Shapira, an Israeli historian specializing in modern and contemporary Jewish history, is professor emerita in Jewish history at Tel Aviv University. In addition to various positions at Tel Aviv University, she also held several visiting appointments abroad. She was the founder and first director of the Rabin Center and has served in many public bodies such as the Council for Higher Education, the Claims Conference, and the Memorial Foundation for Jewish culture. Her many awards and distinctions include the Zalman Shazar Prize (2004) and the Israel Prize (2011). She is the author of many published works such as Berl: The Biography of a Socialist Zionist, Berl Katznelson, 1887-1944 (1984), Land and Power, the Zionist Resort to Force, 1882-1948 (1992), and, more recently, Israel: A History (2013). Additionally, the biographies written by Shapira on David Ben-Gurion and Yosef Haim Brenner will be released the United States next fall.
Rabbi Ethan Tucker is co-founder and head of Mechon Hadar, the only co-ed, non- denominational yeshiva in America, where he holds the chair in Jewish Law. He was previously a faculty member at the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education and a co-founder of Kehilat Hadar and the National Independent Minyanim Movement. He received his Ph.D. from the Jewish Theological Seminary and was a Wexner Fellow in 2000. Known for his ability to transcend the affiliation boundaries of Judaism, he was awarded the inaugural Grinspoon Foundation Social Entrepreneur Fellowship in 2008. He was, in addition, named one of America’s top 50 Rabbis by Newsweek in 2011 and 2012.
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Ruth R. Wisse was, until her recent retirement, the Martin Peretz Professor of Yiddish Literature and Professor of Comparative literature at Harvard University. After receiving her Ph.D. from McGill University, she went on to found their Department of Jewish studies. She is a member of the editorial board of the Jewish Review of Books and is well known as a contributor to Commentary. She is also on the advisory board of NGO Monitor. Recipient of a National Humanities Award (2007) for her scholarship and teaching, she also won the National Jewish Book Award for The Modern Jewish Canon: A Journey through Language and Culture (2000). She has published a number of anthologies of Yiddish literature, literary histories and political commentaries.
Doron Weber is vice-president of programs at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation where he runs the program for the Public Understanding of Science and Technology and the program to promote Universal Access to Knowledge through the Digital Information Technology. He has launched national programs in theatre, film and television to produce new work bridging the gap between science and the humanities. In addition, he serves as vice chair of the steering committee of the Digital Public Library of America and is on the advisory board of the Science and Entertainment Exchange. The recipient of various prizes and awards, his recent memoir Immortal Bird: A Family Memoir (2012) was published to critical acclaim, chosen by The Washington Post as one of the best books of 2012.
Leon Wieseltier is a writer, critic, philosopher and literary editor. Amongst his books – "Kaddish" (1998), which won the Jewish Book Council Award. He also won the 2013 Dan David Prize for his contributions to ideas and contemporary philosophy.
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