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BGU Launches the Center for Israel Studies

BGU Launches the Center for Israel Studies

November 23, 2016

Israel Studies, Culture & Jewish Thought, Social Sciences & Humanities

The Center for Israel Studies (CIS) was recently launched at the Ben-Gurion Research Institute for the Study of Israel and Zionism in Sede Boqer.

Blending history, high academic work and policy recommendations on the most pressing questions of the Jewish people, the Center will consist of five laboratories that will be launched in the coming years. Two of them — the Hebrew Culture Laboratory and the Israel and World Jewry Laboratory — are already in operation.

The Ben-Gurion Research Institute for the Study of Israel & Zionism  Dr. Paula Kabalo

Dr. Paula Kabalo, director of the Ben-Gurion Research Institute for the Study of Israel and Zionism

These two labs “offer a significant change in the way humanities researchers think and work. We intend to adopt behavioral patterns more familiar from other knowledge fields – teamwork and mutual fertilization in order to promote joint research,” explains Dr. Paula Kabalo, head of the Ben-Gurion Research Institute.

Prof. Arieh Saposnik

Prof. Arieh Saposnik

Ben-Gurion Institute’s Prof. Arieh Saposnik heads the Hebrew Culture lab while Prof. Ofer Schiff runs the Israel and World Jewry lab.

“We are going to shift paradigms with this new Center,” says BGU President Prof. Rivka Carmi. “Disseminating this knowledge around the world is so important in this time of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and the need to justify our existence.”

The CIS will promote joint research and a different, more dynamic method of humanities research, creating an academic network to study the central questions revolving around Israel and Jewish peoplehood.

“The purpose of the academic and critical look at culture in general is to expand the world of human discourse. The vision of the Hebrew Culture group is to realize and implement this conceptualization and make a contribution first to widening and deepening the world of Israeli discourse and the ability of Israeli culture to embody an expression of a particular nation as one voice amid the cacophony of human culture – the purpose, at the end of the day, of the humanities and those who are involved with them,” Prof. Saposnik says.

Ofer Schiff  Ben-Gurion Research Institute for the Study of Israel and Zionism

Prof. Ofer Schiff

Prof. Schiff explains the two questions driving the research in the Israel and World Jewry lab. “What does it mean to research Israel today? We will create a network and together we will ask and answer two main questions. First, what is the DNA, the catalyst of the existence of the Jewish people? What does it mean that we are the Jewish people? We want to turn that question inwards about Israeli society.

“Second, who are the Jews? What is a good Jew or a bad Jew? These are the questions a sovereign Jewish state must ask and answer,” he remarks.

The Center was made possible by the Azrieli Foundation.

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