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Interfaith Leadership & Religious Literacy
February 29, 2024

Since the outbreak of hostilities in the Middle East on October 7, tensions between religious groups, and hostility towards Jewish and Muslim communities, have been on the rise on campuses across the country. While some campuses have fared better than others, one factor that seems to provide a buffer is strong interpersonal connections across lines of religious difference. It is exactly such connections that have been developing through AVDF funding.

In 2021 AVDF launched a series of projects with ministry organizations that work across many campuses including Hillel, InterVarsity, Focus, Neighborly Faith, and the Veritas Forum. The grants to these organizations support a variety of activities across hundreds of U.S. campuses to bring students together in meaningful ways across religious difference. While we do not have reports from each of these organizations since October 7, we have received anecdotal data that relationships built through these projects are helping campuses navigate the recent choppy water.

Over the last academic year, for example, 31 Hillel chapters implemented interfaith projects in partnership with at least one other faith community on campus, hosting a total of 192 interfaith events across the movement. These initiatives engaged 1800+ Jewish students and 2000+ students who did not identify as Jewish. In the year to come, Hillel seeks to build upon last year’s success. Students and professionals alike are feeling the deep impact of this work and are eager to do more of it with additional campus microgrants.

Since October 7, the individuals involved in these efforts have been able to play the role of peacemaker and bridge-builder on their campuses, rather than getting caught up as partisans in a conflict. On Hillel’s Instagram and LinkedIn channels you can see posts from Hillels at the University of Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Elon where students impacted by AVDF grant dollars are making that positive difference. See here and here.

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