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Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor book cover - Click to join our book group

Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor by Yossi Klein Halevi

Kaufman's Weekly Interfaith Insight

"An Approach to Israel-Palestine Understanding" by Director Doug Kindschi

Last week a great friend of the interfaith institute and of Grand Valley State University died at age 99.  Seymour Padnos and his wife, Esther, had been generous to the university and to the institute, and became personal friends as well. During my 28 years as a dean, I had many opportunities to engage with them regarding the new science building which bears their names, as well as the Padnos College of Engineering and Computing. I always knew of Seymour’s deep Jewish faith, and then as the founding director for the Kaufman Interfaith Institute I became more aware of his commitment to interfaith understanding as well. He supported Sylvia Kaufman’s early efforts in the 1980s to establish a Jewish-Christian dialogue in Muskegon, and continued both in attendance and support as the institute took shape this past decade.

Seymour was always kind, gentle, and more interested in what I was doing than in talking about himself. But as I got to know him better I learned of his bringing the professor of Old Testament from the University of Chicago Divinity School to lecture at Hope College on Jewish-Christian relations.  It was the same professor with whom I had studied back in the 1960s and who arranged for my wife and me to be invited to a Jewish home in south Chicago to celebrate Passover.  It was my first significant interfaith experience and had a profound impact that has influenced me to this day. I will always be grateful to that professor and to Seymour Padnos for the many ways they both enriched my life and understanding. 

Another Jewish figure who has recently been important to my understanding is the senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, Yossi Klein Halevi.  Emigrating from Brooklyn to Jerusalem in 1983 at age 27, he is a reporter, columnist, and author of a number of books reflecting his own journey of understanding. His father was a Holocaust survivor who was very instrumental in his own early development as he responded with anger about what had happened to the Jews.  But then he realized that he was living in what was perhaps the most fortunate generation for Jews in all of history. He was not in physical danger, enjoyed freedom living in America, and Jews had returned to their homeland and established a state. It was the exact opposite of his father, who probably lived in what was the least fortunate generation to be Jewish with the systematic killing of millions of his people during the Holocaust. Young Halevi had no need to be angry, but sought to live fully and not as a victim.    Read the entire article here

Kaufman's Weekly Watch

White Fragility - What is It?

The book by Robin DiAngelo, White Fragility: Why It's So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism has been on the NY Times Best Seller list since it was published in 2018. The video is a clip from a presentation the author gave at an event for the United Methodist Church. Full Event.

We start on online book discussion of this book beginning Tuesday, July 21.  We will meet on Zoom each week at 3 p.m., taking one chapter each week. More info

Kaufman Interfaith Leadership Scholars 2020-2021 flyer

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2020-2021 Scholars Registration is now open!

Kaufman Interfaith Institute is excited to launch our second year of the Youth Interfaith Leadership Scholars Program. This year our focus will be on Leadership Development, Deepening our Learning of Pluralism*, and Taking Action in our communities. In addition to personal growth the Leadership Scholars will serve as an advisory council to Kaufman Interfaith Institute and help to guide the Institute forward into the future. All students 8th-12th grade are welcome to participate in this free program.** 

Here's what Scholars from the 2019/2020 cohort said about the program:

  • Most students felt that the interactive trainings and getting to know their peers were the best part of the program. 
  • Learning from University Professors who were experts in their fields was really cool
  • The group really got to know each other and learn what made kids from all over west Michigan who they are

*Pluralism is not diversity alone, but the energetic engagement with diversity. Pluralism is not just tolerance, but the active seeking of understanding across lines of difference.---Diana Eck

** Inclusion is of critical importance to Kaufman. Please email Zahabia Ahmed-Usmani at usmaniz@gvsu.edu with any questions or concerns.

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"Through interfaith dialogue and service, we promote a vibrant and diverse community for all generations. BEYOND TOLERANCE, WE VALUE HOSPITALITY, UNDERSTANDING, RESPECT, AND ACCEPTANCE."