The 2019 retreat is the fourth retreat (the third in a row in Venice) and it will be held 21-24 November 2019 and co-organized with Beit Venezia, with the generous support of Stiftelsen Clas Groschinskys Minnesfond.

The theme for the 2019 retreat is interreligious conflicts. One central characteristic in the common perception of interreligious conflicts is the sense of irreconcilability. It is the sense of lack of common ground that seems to generate the specific threat perceived in this kind of conflicts. Consequently, interreligious conflicts are often perceived as a contemporary paradigm of inter-cultural conflicts that have no solution and therefore inherently carry the potential of violence and ultimately – of war. Indeed, since 9/11 the inter-religious aspect has become – or reemerged as – central in articulating geopolitical conflicts.

This year’s retreat brings together scholars from different disciplines in the humanities and social sciences – philosophy, history, theology, Jewish studies, Islamic studies, literature – in order to reflect on the set of contemporary questions pertaining to interreligious conflicts through the medium of the Talmudic text. The Talmudic text chosen to explore this theme is Talmud Bavli Avodah Zara 2a-5b. Commonly translated as a tractate dealing with “idolatry”, Avodah Zara, literally “foreign worship”, is a central Talmudic text on the praxis vis-à-vis foreignness, and so may be said to feature a political theology of conflict.