News

A letter from Laurie Gross-Schaefer reflecting on four years of Avi’s absence

Dear Friends of the Avi Schaefer Fund,

Memories of loss are most present during times of celebration, and tragedy is even more deeply felt in the absence of those whose joy was so often interwoven with our own. We approach the summer months knowing that each time we pass the date of Avi’s birthday, June 11th, we will be reminded anew of the pain of loss. But every year we also celebrate Avi’s life and the legacy of his continued presence in the world through the work of the Avi Schaefer Fund. As in years past, we have been blessed with the opportunity to match your donations in honor of Avi’s birthday. Whether you are a long-time supporter of the Fund or you have not yet chosen to offer your financial support, I hope you will honor Avi’s upcoming birthday with a donation.

Breaking Bread

GVSU’s Muslim and Jewish students sit down together for a meal in peace

Imagine a place where the historical disputes between religions could be set aside — where people with varying opinions could sit down and talk to one another in peace. The Avi Shabbat dinner provided just this for Grand Valley State University’s Jewish and Muslim students on Friday night.

Bringing Communities Together

Forget, for a second, the struggle for land and power that dates beyond your honored grandparents. Forget the blows you delivered your neighbor, and your neighbor to you. Forget the stories you were taught that the person you’re laughing and breaking bread with is supposed to be your enemy, that you’re supposed to hate them, and that, in this lifetime, either you will win the struggle, or they will.

A Trip That United

Hillel at Binghamton and Muslim Student Association collaborated on the “Visit a Mosque/Visit a Temple” event on March 9, sponsored by the Avi Schaefer Fund. Twelve Hillel students and 12 students from Muslim Student Association spent the afternoon together, visiting Masjid Al-Nur in Johnson City and meeting with Imam Anas Shaikh, then visiting Beth David Synagogue in Binghamton and meeting with Rabbi Zev Silber. Two students, Munira Pulodi, of Muslim Student Association, and Andrew Davidov, of Hillel, shared their reflections on the event.

The Fourth Annual Jerusalem Symposium in Memory of Avi Schaefer

jerusalem-symposium-2014

The Israeli Palestinian Conflict in Our Lives: How it Impacts our Values, Culture and Identity proved to be an important and exciting topic for our Fourth Annual Jerusalem Symposium In Memory of Avi Schaefer, held March 20th, 2014. Once again, there was standing room only with over 300 participants in attendance, mostly young college age students, to hear amazing speakers and presenters.

Guest Column: Interfaith Trip Opens Doors

Despite the extensive diversity and countless opportunities to meet new students on campus, most students do not leave the safety of their community bubble. However this year, Hillel at Binghamton and the Muslim Student Association (MSA) have been working together to break down these barriers in order to open up opportunities for interfaith dialogue. On Sunday, March 9, Hillel and the MSA took a group of Jewish and Muslim students to go and visit a local mosque, Masjid Al-Nur (Islamic Organization of the Southern Tier) and Beth David Synagogue. Muslim and Jewish students were paired up with each other to create a friendly and open environment for everyone to talk and get to know one another. This trip was a follow-up event to Hillel’s Avi Schaefer Shabbat in collaboration with the MSA, where Jewish and Muslim students shared a Shabbat dinner together while discussing cultural and religious similarities and backgrounds.

Avi Shabbats 2014

avi-shabbat-2014So far, this year over fifty five schools are participating in Avi Shabbat, inspiring important explorations of difference and celebrations of similarity. Cultural barriers have been knocked down over memorable dinners, where students of all backgrounds investigated together the truly important things that connect us all.

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Symposium Videos

View our archive of top scholars who shared their wisdom with ASF.