Hebrew University Marks Fifty Years of Israel-Germany Diplomatic Relations | האוניברסיטה העברית בירושלים | The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
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Hebrew University Marks Fifty Years of Israel-Germany Diplomatic Relations

The Federal Republic of Germany and the State of Israel officially took up diplomatic relations on May 12, 1965. Yet even before official relations were established, German and Israeli citizens were cooperating in science and research -- a pioneering factor in the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Founded in 1918, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem is deeply rooted in the German-speaking scientific tradition. Among the Hebrew University’s founding fathers are such luminaries as Albert Einstein, Martin Buber and Sigmund Freud.

In the years before World War II, many of the Hebrew University`s institutes and schools were established and shaped by leading Jewish scientists from Germany, who came to Jerusalem either as Zionists or, after 1933, as refugees from the Nazi regime. Some of the more prominent names include Edmund Landau (Mathematics), Gershom Scholem (Jewish Thought) and Richard Koebner (German History).

Scientific cooperation with post-war Germany was renewed in the early 1970s with cooperation agreements with leading German universities and the establishment of Minerva Centers in the Humanities and Natural Sciences.

Since then the cooperation with German scientists and research institutions has been increasing steadily in all fields. Germany is now considered the Hebrew University`s most significant research partner in Europe, second worldwide only to the United States.

Today cooperation with Germany at the Hebrew University is based on scientific excellence, bringing together top scientists in a wide range of joint research projects, as well as a growing number of students.

Major collaborative enterprises include the Max Planck Center for Sensory Processing of the Brain in Action and the Martin Buber Society of Fellows at the Hebrew University.

The Max Planck-Hebrew University Center for Sensory Processing of the Brain in Action

The Max Planck-Hebrew University Center for Sensory Processing of the Brain in Action is the latest addition to the Hebrew University’s interdisciplinary approach to brain science. Inaugurated at its Edmond J. Safra Campus in January 2013, it is a partnership of the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Martinsried, Germany and the Hebrew University’s Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences. The Center is one of only 11 such international partnerships between the Max Planck Society — Germany’s leading research organization — and a foreign research institution; it is the only such center in the field of brain research.

Under the joint leadership of Prof. Tobias Bonhoeffer of Germany and Prof. Idan Segev of ELSC, the Center brings together senior scientists, including Nobel Prize laureate Prof. Bert Sakmann and Prof. Alexander Borst from Germany and ELSC faculty Prof. Haim Sompolinsky and Prof. Adi Mizrahi. A main objective of the Center is the promotion of young Israeli and German scientists through fellowships and joint research. Through experiments, computer-assisted modeling and theoretical work, the researchers are studying individual nerve cells and cell circuits in order to analyze how sensory perceptions are processed in the brain. The scientific teams are particularly keen to understand how perceptions lead to certain behavioral patterns and, in turn, how behavior impacts perception.

Freie Universität Berlin and Hebrew University: A History -- and Future -- of Cooperation

The Hebrew University has an extensive strategic partnership with Freie Universität Berlin -- The Free University of Berlin -- which includes numerous joint research projects in the natural sciences, humanities and social sciences, as well as student exchange. The partnership is an indication of how close the cooperation between Israel and Germany has become in the fields of academia, research and science.

Cooperation between Freie Universität Berlin and the Hebrew University has a long history. In the 1950s there were already connections between students and faculty at the two universities. The first official partnership between the universities was formalized in 1986, and since 2011 Freie Universität and the Hebrew University have been working together as strategic partners.

In November 2014, the two universities signed an agreement to enhance cooperation in research and teaching, through the exchange of technical and administrative staff. Participants will benefit from the sharing of mutual professional best practices.

In February 2010, marking 50 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations, the presidents of the Hebrew University and Freie Universität Berlin signed a joint doctoral program agreement -- the first of its kind between German and Israeli institutions of higher learning, open to all disciplines at the two universities.

Furthermore, in a joint teaching project students at Freie Universität and at Hebrew University are studying the history of the Holocaust. The future teachers in both countries will exchange ideas and information through the Internet, working together to develop teaching materials. The highlight of the class is joint field trips to memorials and memorial sites in Jerusalem.

The German-Israeli Research Training Group “Human Rights under Pressure – Ethics, Law, and Politics,” a joint Freie Universität-Hebrew University program, is expected to be officially opened in June 2015. Each year 20 doctoral students from each university will be educated within the Training Group.

Cooperative Projects Commemorating 50 Years of Diplomatic Relations

The Hebrew University and Freie Universität Berlin will host various cooperative projects as part of a program of events commemorating the anniversary year. They include not only workshops and conferences for scientists and scholars, but also a lecture series in Jerusalem on the history of German literature from the Middle Ages to the present, which started during the 2014 spring term and will be concluded with a final event in April 2015.

Hebrew University Marks Fifty Years of Israel-Germany Diplomatic Relations