Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Berliner Studien zum Jüdischen Recht

Conference "Strangers and Others: The Contemporary Challenges of Identity and Migration"

Am 14. und 15. Juni 2017 fand auf Initiative von Professor Tsvi Blanchard und Professor Schlink hin eine Konferenz zum Thema "Strangers and Others: The Contemporary Challenges of Identity and Migration" an der Humboldt-Universität statt. Die Konferenzsprache war Englisch sodass die nachfolgenden Informationen leider lediglich in englischer Sprache bereit stehen.


Recent increasing migration from the Middle East and Africa to Europe in general and to Germany has exacerbated already existing frictions in law, politics, religion and culture. Much of the public discussion of these tensions revolves around the concepts of identity and dealing with "the Other". On one hand, continuing to insist on liberal "universalist" theories has proved insufficient. On the other hand, the recently emerging nationalist approaches can bring significant dangers.

To further serious reflection on these and related issues, on Wednesday and Thursday, June 14 and June 15, 2017, the Berliner Studien für Jüdisches Recht, the Faculties of Law and of Theology at Humboldt University in Berlin, the Rabbiner Seminar zu Berlin and the Meyer-Struckmann-Foundation are organizing a conference on this issue.

This conference will bring together Jewish, Christian and Muslim scholars. In this conference, speakers will use religious, philosophical, scientific and legal sources to explore approaches to the contemporary tensions in law, religion and culture connected to the increasing migration in the West. While the main discussions will focus on contemporary European contingent, attention will also be given to the situation in the United States and in Israel. Considering that a high proportion of the nowadays migrants that are coming to Europe are from a Muslim background, this conference is meant to answer to the following questions and many others.

Can a community that practices a traditional form of religion that rejects secularity find a dynamic place in a Western society without compromising its faith commitments and if so, how?

Can a Western society accept a community that practices a traditional religion that rejects secularity without compromising its secular-liberal identity and if so, how?


The conference was held in the locals of the Humboldt University in Berlin and featured scholars from around the world, including:
Professor Michal Alberstein
Professor Moussa Abou Ramadan
Professor Dr. Rabbi Tsvi Blanchard
is the Meyer Struckmann Professor of Jewish Law at Humboldt University Faculty of Law in Berlin as well as scholar in residence at the Institute for Law, Religion and Lawyer's Work at Fordham Law School where he teaches Jewish law.

In addition to being an ordained orthodox rabbi, Tsvi holds Ph.D. degrees in Philosophy and in Clinical Psychology. He taught philosophy and Jewish studies at Washington, Northwestern and Loyola Universities.

Tsvi was also a psychotherapist in private practice. For eight years, he was the principal of an orthodox Jewish high school and did extensive educational consulting.

In New York, Tsvi served as a senior fellow at The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership specializing in leadership development, organizational consulting and community development. He remains a senior associate there.

Rabbi Blanchard coauthored a book entitled Embracing Life, Facing Death: a Jewish Guide to Palliative Care. In addition to his articles on Jewish law, his publications include the 2002 Riesman award winning "How to Think About Being Jewish in the Twenty-First Century: a New Model of Jewish Identity Construction". In addition to his academic work on Judaism and Jewish law, his popular writings include widely-anthologized stories and parables, as well as numerous Clal and web short pieces on Jewish topics.

Professor Dr. Martin Heger holds the chair of Criminal Law and Criminal procedural law, European Criminal Law and modern history of law (HU Berlin) since November 2006 and he is a member of the Berlin Studies on Jewish Law Group. Furthermore he is a member of the Academic Senate and Council of Humboldt University and also of the Law Faculty’s Council. He is the head the James Goldschmidt Institute of Criminal Sciences and Juridical Contemporary History and of the Franz-von-Liszt-Institute for International Criminal Law in co-operation with the European Law School and in the Institute of Law and Society (LSI). Since April 2017 he is the Dean of Student Affairs of our Law Faculty.

Professor Dr. Marcia Pally teaches at New York University, at Fordham University, and is a regular guest professor at the Theology Faculty of Humboldt University, Berlin. Her research interests include religion, culture, and politics as well as the intersection of language and culture. Her most recent books are Commonwealth and Covenant: Economics, Politics, and Theologies of Relationality, which has been nominated for the prestigious Grawemeyer Award in Religion, and America's New Evangelicals: Expanding the vision of the common good (2011). Prof. Pally spoke at the World Economic Forum in 2010 and has been awarded both the DFG Mercator Guest Professorship as well as grants from the DAAD and Thyssen Stiftung. She was twice a Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin [Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin ,2007, 2010].

Professor Russell G. Pearce is the Edward & Marilyn Bellet Chair in Legal Ethics, Morality & Religion at Fordham University School of Law. His recent publications include Helping Liberal Democracy Survive the Populist Challenge: Reflections on Identity, God and Lawyers, COSMOLOGICS (forthcoming Harvard Divinity School 2017) (with Emily Jenab); A Challenge to Bleached Out Professional Identity: How Jewish was Justice Louis Brandeis?, 33 TOURO L. REV. 335 (2017) (with Adam Winer and Emily Jenab); Being Good Lawyers: A Relational Approach to Law Practice, 29 GEORGETOWN J. LEGAL ETHICS 601 (2016) (with Eli Wald); and Difference Blindness v. Bias Awareness: Why Law Firms with the Best of Intentions Have Failed to Create Diverse Partnerships, 83 FORDHAM L. REV. 2407 (2015) (with Eli Wald and Swethaa S. Ballakrishnen).

Before joining the Fordham faculty, Professor Pearce worked as an associate at a large law firm, a Legal Aid Society staff attorney representing low-income tenants, and General Counsel to the New York City Commission on Human Rights. He graduated from Yale College and Yale Law School, where he was an editor of the Yale Law Journal, and clerked for the Hon. José A. Cabranes. Professor Pearce received the Sanford D. Levy Memorial Award of the New York State Bar Association "in recognition of his contribution to understanding and advancement in the field of professional ethics."

Professor Dr. Rasoul Rasoulipour

Dr. Doron Rubin
Professor Dr. Rolf Schieder

Professor Dr. Bernhard Schlink is a professor emeritus of public law and legal philosophy; for many years he was also a judge at a German constitutional law court. He still teaches at Humboldt University in Berlin and at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York. His work focusses on fundamental rights, the role of the police, and the meaning of justice.

Dr. Bronwyn Roantree's work lies at the intersection of law, religion and politics in the contemporary West. Past projects have looked at competing accounts of the proper role of religion in the public sphere in the European Court of Human Rights' interpretation of religious freedom,gender disparities in restrictions on religious dress in Turkey, police surveillance of Muslim communities in New York and New Jersey, and the impact of exemptions to state health and safety regulations extended to religiously-affiliated daycares in the U.S. She received her BA in Philosophy from Columbia University, her PhD in Religion from Harvard University, and is currently a JD candidate at Fordham Law School.

Dr. Amy Uelmen is a Lecturer at Georgetown Law School in Washington, D.C., where her scholarship and teaching focus on the intersection between legal theory, religious values and professional life. From 2001-2011, she worked as the founding director of Fordham's Institute on Religion, Law & Lawyer's Work. She holds a B.A. in American Studies and a J.D. from Georgetown, an M.A. in Theology from Fordham, and in February 2016 completed an S.J.D. doctoral thesis on the tort law obligations of bystanders. Her seminars in law and religion include: °Religion and the Work of a Lawyer," "Catholic Social Thought & the Law: The Work of Pope Francis," and "Religion, Morality & Contested Claims for Justice." As a participant in the Focolare Movement, she has also been especially active in Jewish-Christian and Muslim-Christian dialogue and projects for economic justice, as well as efforts to reduce political polarization.

Sylvia Wittmer is a teaching assistant and doctoral candidate at the Berlin Studies on Jewish Law focusing on possible intersections between legal thought in public international law and Jewish Law in the context of post-conflict situations. She holds a LL.M in International Criminal Justice and Armed Conflict from the University of Nottingham and completed the First Federal Exam in Law in Berlin