Peter Schäfer Elected into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Press Release

Press Release, 23 May 2017

Peter Schäfer, Director of the Jewish Museum Berlin, has been elected into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences as a foreign honorary member. Founded in 1780, the Academy is one of the oldest and most esteemed learned societies in the United States. Among the Academy’s fellows and foreign honorary members are some of the world’s most accomplished scholars and experts in their respective fields, including more than 250 Nobel laureates and 60 Pulitzer Prize winners. New members are nominated and selected by present Academy members. Through studies, publications, and programs in the humanities, arts, and education; science, engineering, and technology; and global security and international affairs, the Academy offers significant, nonpartisan policy advice to decision makers in government, academia, and the private sector.

Katharina Schmidt-Narischkin
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Among the newly elected foreign honorary members are Israeli novelist David Grossman, former President of the European Commission Romano Prodi, and chemist Clare Grey. The new members will be inducted on October 7, 2017, at a ceremony at the Academy in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Peter Schäfer is one of the world’s most respected scholars of Judaism of our time. Born in 1943 in Hückeswagen, Germany, and raised in Mülheim an der Ruhr, Schäfer held teaching positions at the universities of Tübingen and Cologne, and from 1983 to 2008 he was professor and director of the Institute of Jewish Studies at the Free University of Berlin. In 1998 he was appointed Ronald O. Perelman Professor of Jewish Studies and Professor of Religion at Princeton University. From 2005 to 2013, Peter Schäfer served as director of Princeton’s Program in Judaic Studies. As of September 1, 2014, he was appointed as the new director of the Jewish Museum Berlin.

For his academic work, he has been honored with numerous awards, including the Leibniz Prize in 1994, Germany’s most prestigious research funding prize. In 2007 Peter Schäfer received the Mellon Award, presently the largest prize in the United States for scholars of the humanities, in honor of his substantial initiative in reviving the tradition of Jewish studies in Germany. Other awards he received are the Ruhr Prize for the Arts and Sciences (2008), Princeton University’s Howard T. Behrman Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities (2013), the Dr. Leopold Lucas Prize from the University of Tübingen (2014), and the Reuchlin Prize of the city of Pforzheim (2015).

Peter Schäfer holds honorary doctorate degrees from the University of Utrecht and the University of Tel Aviv. In addition to his visiting professorships at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Yale University, and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, he was also a fellow at the Historisches Kolleg in Munich (2002–03) and at the Institute for Advanced Study (Wissenschaftskolleg) in Berlin (2007–08). Schäfer has been a corresponding fellow of the British Academy since 1987, a foreign member of the American Philosophical Society since 1997, an emeritus ordinary member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities since 2002–03, a fellow at the American Academy for Jewish Research since 2006, and an Honorary Member of the German Association of Jewish Studies since 2013. Schäfer is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the Foundation Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.

Peter Schäfer has published numerous books and academic papers, most recently Zwei Götter im Himmel. Gottesvorstellungen in der jüdischen Antike (Two Gods in Heaven: Concepts of God in the Ancient Jewish World, Munich 2017). Some of his other publications are: The Jewish Jesus: How Judaism and Christianity Shaped Each Other (Princeton and Oxford 2012), The Origins of Jewish Mysticism (Tübingen 2009), Jesus in the Talmud (Princeton 2007), Mirror of His Beauty: Feminine Images of God from the Bible to the Early Kabbalah (Princeton and Oxford 2002) and Judeophobia: Attitudes Towards the Jews in the Ancient World (Cambridge, MA 1997).

On June 12, Peter Schäfer will be talking with Michael Wolffsohn about his new book in the Jewish Museum Berlin. More information on our website.

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