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Interfaith Letter Opposes Anti-Semitism

Published February 05, 2020

More than 60 members of Rochester’s interfaith community are standing together against anti-Semitism.

Nazareth College’s interfaith leaders co-drafted the letter and asked members of a variety of religions around Rochester to show their support with a signature. It acts as a call to action after ongoing anti-Semitic violence in New York City and other areas in the U.S. 

As people of faith, we have come together to share with you the deep concern in our hearts. The ongoing anti-Semitic violence in New York City and beyond will not leave our thoughts; its impact has hurt us deeply.

It was authored by Muhammad Shafiq, Ph.D., executive director of the Hickey Center for Interfaith Studies and Dialogue; Hava Leipzig Holzhauer, J.D., executive director of the Konar Center for Tolerance and Jewish Studies; Jamie R. Fazio, director of the Nazareth College Center for Spirituality, and Susan E. Nowak, SSJ, Ph.D., religious studies professor and Nazareth’s William H. Shannon chair of Catholic studies.

We are speaking out in unison to make clear that anti-Semitism, as all forms of racial and religious hatred, is unacceptable to each and every one of us. It is imperative to spread the message of interfaith caring, concern, and allyship.

Professor Nowak, speaking Tuesday, February 4, to local NPR affiliate WXXI radio, said she is concerned about an increase in anti-Semitic and other acts of intolerance across the nation.

“How do we all work together to look at this ideology, look at this attitude, this dehumanizing attitude, this movement toward violence. How do we take what each of our traditions has to say and put it into action,” Nowak asked.

Holzhauer told WXXI why it’s crucial for everyone to do a self-evaluation about how they treat other people.

“What are we teaching in the classroom? What are we saying in our sermons? What is the conversation at our dinner table? How are we interacting with people in the grocery store?” Holzhauer asked.

The interfaith authors are calling on the Rochester interfaith community to help them focus on next steps.

We are thinking deeply about how to better focus our teaching, our activities, our sermons, our events, our programming, our outreach, our interactions with one another. Thus, we call upon all people of good will, across the city of Rochester and beyond, to step forward with their ideas, energy and hope.

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Interfaith Call to Action

Nazareth College’s academic strengths cross an unusually broad spectrum of 60 majors, including education, health and human services, management, the fine arts, music, theater, math and science, foreign languages, and the liberal arts. The coeducational, religiously independent, classic campus in a charming suburb of Rochester, N.Y., challenges and supports 2,300 undergrads and 700 graduate students. Nazareth is recognized nationally for its Fulbright global student scholars and commitment to civic engagement. Rigorous programs, an uncommon arts and sciences core, experiential learning, career skills, and a global focus prepare graduates for not just one job, but for their life’s work.