Welcome to a Community of Interfaith Understanding!

In promoting interfaith understanding and mutual respect, the Kaufman Interfaith Institute offers a broad range of programming (over 200 events/initiatives each year) that seeks to create a more inclusive and equitable West Michigan Community for persons of diverse cultural and religious/secular/spiritual identities. 

The spirit of the Kaufman Interfaith Institute is represented in the cooperative programs held in the community to enlighten, inform, and promote inclusivity. These events bring together diverse voices and worldview traditions to find common ground, foster interfaith cooperation, and elevate individual experiences and stories.

Whether it is working with others in the community to host a healthy discussion about polarizing issues or organizing celebrations that welcomes all and encourages learning through differences, the institute has found great success carrying out its mission through these community collaborations.


If you missed our 22nd Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Celebration, you can check out the video above. 

Kaufman's Weekly Interfaith Insight

"Kindness, terror, and remembrance" by Director Doug Kindschi

An act of kindness led to an act of terror.  

On an unusually cold day Colleyville, Texas, Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker saw a stranger outside the door of Congregation Beth Israel. It was the morning prior to the Shabbat services and the rabbi’s faith had taught him to be kind to strangers, so he let him in to get warm and made him some hot tea. Not many attended the service in person because of the COVID challenge, but many were watching on livestream. During the prayer as the rabbi’s back was turned, he heard a click and realized that it was from a gun. The act of kindness now led to an 11-hour hostage event. 

As the siege continued the hostage-taker had a phone conversation from his brother in England who urged him to end the attack and return to his family and children.  He refused and made it clear that he was ready to die along with the hostages he had taken. He said that he liked the rabbi and even acknowledged the kindness that had been shown to him prior to the service. Even so, his hatred of Jews prevailed. In that call, heard and recorded over livestream, he said, “Don’t cry on the (expletive) phone with me. … There are hostages in the synagogue who are going to die.” 

Read the entire article here


Weekly Watch - Poitier and Belafonte     

This past week’s Insight featured M. L. King, Jr., and Sidney Poitier’s relationship with Harry Belafonte as they did a task for King. .

For something less scary than the story told in Tuesday’s Insight, listen to Belafonte sing “Island in the Sun..”



The Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies-Muskegon is pleased to bring the film Violins of Hope, via Zoom to the West Michigan community on January 27 – the International Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust. It is the story of violins recovered from the Holocaust, repaired, and now being used to tell the story as survivors.

Register for the link to watch the film on January 26 or 27, and get information about a Zoom discussion of the film at 7:45 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 27.  

Watch the trailer here


Join us for a screening and discussion of the film Stranger/Sister on February 9 at 6:30pm. We will watch the 45 min documentary together and then have a panel style discussion and Q/A of the film and its topics.

The Panel will feature Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom co-founders Sheryl Olitzky and Atiya Aftab, Director/Producer Kirsten Kelly, and will be moderated by Jennifer Howe Peace, senior advisor for the Pluralism Project at Harvard University.

Both the screening and panel discussion will take place on Zoom. If you'd like to join, please register to receive the link. Stranger/Sister Trailer

Listen to Director Kirsten Kelly and Kyle Kooyers discuss the film on the WGVU Morning Show with Shelley Irwin

Give Now

Give Today

Donate online here or call (616) 331-6000.

This fund is dedicated to the Kaufman Institute's annual conferences that explore ideas on a community-wide scale and in interfaith contexts, including the triannual Jewish-Christian-Muslim Dialogue.

The Kaufman Interfaith Institute has completed 2021 – Year of Interfaith Healing with our four emphases on:

  • Healing our bodies in a time of pandemic – cooperated with the DeVos Medical Ethics Colloquy webinar on Religion and Health with an interfaith panel
  • Healing our Earth – five webinars and workshops on interfaith global climate efforts
  • Healing our racial disparity – weekly book discussion groups on early racial justice leaders
  • Healing our political polarization – training workshops with One America and current book group reading Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’ Morality: Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times

We are pleased to announce that once again an anonymous donor has pledged to match each individual gift of up to $5,000 between now and February 2022. We ask you to partner with us to meet this financial opportunity as we undertake an exciting and innovative 2022.

Please give as generously as you are able. Gifts of $100 or more will be recognized at the following levels: Friend $100 - $499    Supporter $500 - $999    Partner $1,000 - $4,999    Benefactor $5,000 or more.

We deeply appreciate your consideration and support for the year ahead as together we seek to bring understanding and acceptance for all persons in our increasingly diverse communities.

Stay in touch with our weekly Interfaith Inform newsletter

Click Here to Subscribe!              Read this week's Interfaith Inform              Interfaith Insight Archives              Weekly Watch Archives