Ernst Akiba Simon (1899-1988): Life, Work and Controversies between Germany and Israel

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To mark the thirtieth anniversary of the death of Ernst Akiva Simon, an international conference of young scholars will be held, for the first time, to address the wide range of problems and issues linked to the life and work of this Berlin born Israeli educator and intellectual. Simon’s journalistic writing exerted a considerable influence on German speaking Jewry from the early 1920s onward. His friendship with Franz Rosenzweig and Nehemiah Nobel left its imprint on Simon’s attitude toward religion, which he regarded as an expression of intellectual integrity. This attitude guided his political activity in the Zionist youth movement, in the Jewish center for adult education, in the Brit Shalom movement, and in the nascent religious peace movement in Israel in the 1950s. As an educator, he utilized adult education as a means of demonstrating spiritual defiance during the Nazi era. He worked to promote Jewish-Arab understanding and to establish a Jewish-Christian dialogue following the Holocaust. He was among the founders of the Leo Baeck Institute Jerusalem in Israel, and taught at the Jewish Theological Seminar in the USA. The sessions at the international symposium will address both the philosophical and pedagogical questions and Simon’s intellectual and personal relationships. It will begin with a biographical survey that places Simon in the Jewish-German and the German-Israeli political and historical context between the 1920s and the 1980s. Apart from bringing together various aspects of the scholarship on Simon and thereby impacting individual studies, the symposium will also seek to establish and reinforce links among the young scholars. Religious humanism – Religious Education Marking the memory of the pedagogue Ernst Akiba Simon (1899 – 1988) As part of the symposium Ernst Akiba Simon (1899 – 1988): His Life and Work, and Differences of Opinion Between Germany and Israel we invite you to an open discussion at the Jewish Museum of Berlin to mark the memory of Ernst Simon on the topic of Religious Humanism – Religious Education. Moderated by Dr. Anja Sigmund (of the New Synagogue Foundation, Centrum Judaicum), the discussion will address Simon’s work and will deal with the possibilities, the challenges, and the obstacles faced by religious education in today’s schools, in other types of educational institutions, and in academia. We have invited the pedagogue of religion Dr. Ingrid Wiedenroth-Gabler of the Braunschweig Technical University; Prof. Doron Kiesel, a scholar of education and the scientific director of the educational department of the Central Council of German Jews; Prof. Jan Woppowa of Paderborn University, who engages in the didactics of religion; and the religious pedagogue Annette Abdel-Rahman of Osnabrück University. The meeting will be held in the academic hall of the Berlin Jewish Museum. Please take into consideration the delay owing to the security check. If you wish to participate in the discussion, please register online at: info@selma-stern-zentrum.de
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