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A $500,000 donation will help Nazareth College expand programs focusing on religious diversity

Nazareth College says it will be able to add to its efforts at promoting religious diversity with a $500,000 grant from the William and Sheila Konar Foundation.

The money will help create the Konar Center for Tolerance and Jewish Studies at Nazareth.

Nazareth President Daan Braveman says the college already has an emphasis on teaching students about religious and cultural diversity.

“We have a chair in Catholic studies, we have Dr. Shafiq, who represents the Muslim tradition and now we’ll be able to have the third branch of the Abrahamic traditions in Judaism, so it’s really exciting for the college,” Braveman told WXXI News.

Braveman  says the college already has a strong commitment to presenting information about different types of religions and beliefs.

“The problem I see is that religion, too often is being used as a vehicle for dividing us and really all the religious diversity should be seen as a strength and that’s what we’re trying to promote at this new center.”

"Our foundation is pleased to support Nazareth's Center for Tolerance and Jewish Studies," said Howard Konar, a trustee of the Foundation. "This initiative builds on the College's current work fostering interfaith understanding and civic engagement. We hope our support will help strengthen and expand programs for students and the community promoting cross-cultural awareness, tolerance, and a deeper understanding of Judaism."

The William and Sheila Konar Foundation seeks to improve lives by promoting educational opportunities, access to health care, and a more tolerant civil society. The late William Konar was a Holocaust survivor who made his way to Rochester at the age of 16.

Braveman notes that Nazareth is already distinct among colleges and universities for the internationally known Hickey Center for Interfaith Studies and Dialogue. He says that among the plans that are being developed is hiring an  executive director for the new Konar Center  and adding  some courses.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.