The Shalem Center (Hebrew: מרכז שלם, Merkaz Shalem) was a Jerusalem research institute that supported academic work in the fields of philosophy, political theory, Jewish and Zionist history, Bible and Talmud, Middle East Studies, archaeology, economics, and strategic studies. Haaretz newspaper characterised it as "a research facility identified with the Zionist right wing and with American neoconservatives", founded by a small group of former Princeton University students.
In its mission statement the Center wrote that "It seems that the entire Jewish people is suffering from an identity crisis", making its purpose to "provide a proper response to these processes". Due to the prestige the center was able to acquire, with time renowned academics of different political orientation have joined the ranks of its faculty.
The Shalem Center was established in 1994 by the young American Jewish scholar Yoram Hazony as a think tank “intended to confront what he saw as the dangers posed by post-Zionism”, financed by conservative funders in the USA. Hazony had served as Benjamin Netanyahu’s ghost writer and was one of his advisers.
In March 2009, the Shalem Center filed an application with the Council for Higher Education in Israel for the opening of an institution of higher learning that would be authorized to grant B.A. degrees in the liberal arts. Noted scholar of the Middle East Martin Kramer has been chosen to serve as the first president of Shalem College, slated to open in the fall of 2013.
Shalem's research programs supported scholarship in the areas of philosophy, political theory, Jewish and Zionist history, Bible and Talmud, Middle East Studies, archaeology, economics, and strategic studies. Shalem was also home to Shalem Press, one of Israel's leading academic publishing houses. The press specializes in the translation into Hebrew of classic and modern works of Western philosophy. The Center also conducted educational programs at the post-doctoral, undergraduate, and high-school levels for students from Israel and abroad.
The newly created Shalem College will offer an Israeli B.A. modeled on the American liberal-arts degree. Top Israeli and overseas applicants will pursue a unique core curriculum, combining the study of the great texts of Western and Jewish thought. Students will choose a major at the end of their first year. Initially, the college will offer two majors: Middle East and Islamic studies, and an interdisciplinary program in philosophy and Jewish thought.
Between 1996 and 2011, the Center published the quarterly journal Azure: Ideas for the Jewish Nation, and between 2005 to 2009, it published Hebraic Political Studies a peer-reviewed scholarly journal. Azure (published in Hebrew as Techelet) was the largest-circulation general interest journal in Israel.
The Center's publishing house, Shalem Press, publishes classics of Western democratic thought in Hebrew translation, as well as works of Jewish thought in English.
The Center began to receive significant support from Sanford (Zalman) Bernstein and the Tikvah Fund in 1996. In 2007, the Sheldon Adelson Family Foundation announced a $4.5 million grant to enable the creation of the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies at the Shalem Center, to be headed by Natan Sharansky. The Institute closed in 2009, with the departure of Sharansky to head the Jewish Agency. In 2010, the Center announced a $5 million gift from the Chicago-based Conduit Foundation, headed by long-time Shalem trustee David Messer, to seed the establishment of Shalem College. Other significant supporters of Shalem College include the Klarman Family Foundation of Boston, George and Pamela Rohr of New York, Harvey and Jayne Beker of New York, Larry and Judy Tanenbaum of Toronto, Warren and Debbie Kimel of Toronto, and the Ziegler Family Trust.
- Talila Nesher (3 January 2013). "Israel recognizes Shalem Center as academic institution, despite initial criticism". Haaretz. Retrieved 18 April 2015.
- Ilan Pappe: The Idea of Israel. A History of Power and Knowledge. London / New York: Verso, 2014, ISBN 978-1-84467-856-3, p. 248.
- "Coming Soon: A Jewish Liberal Arts College" Jewish Journal, February 28, 2008.
- "The Liberal Art of Nation Building", The Times of Higher education, December 23, 2010.
- MELANIE LIDMAN (05/04/2011). "Shalem Center gets major grant for college". Jpost. Retrieved 28 September 2013. Check date values in:
- "$4.5 Million Gift Establishes Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem". PR Newswire. Retrieved 12 October 2013.