Rabbi Ron Kronish discusses the horrific events that have recently transpired in America and how the "United For Peace Rally" organized by Dr. Mehnaz Afridi through the Holocaust, Genocide, and Interfaith Education Center was important in bringing together people of all backgrounds to mourn for the lives lost in Louisville, Kentucky and Pittsburgh,Pennsylvania. The rally did not indulge in politics, but instead was a way to come together through love, hope, and peace. ” - Ron Kronish

— The Times of Israel

   Dr. Frederick M. Schweitzer (Founder and Past Director), Dr. Mehnaz M. Afridi (Director) and Dr. Jeff Horn (Past Director). HOLOCAUST, GENOCIDE & INTERFAITH EDUCATION CENTER   NEWSLETTER JUNE 2017     Dear Holocaust, Genocide and Interfaith Education Center Friends, We are pleased that this year marked the 20th anniversary of HGI Center which was recognized by the founder Dr. Frederick M. Schweitzer on the commemoration of Kristallnacht, Dr. Schweitzer discussed the challenges of such a Center on a Catholic Campus but also how he had been successful in creating such a vibrant center focused on the lessons of the Holocaust.  He went on to mention how today it was headed by a Muslim woman and how this marked the transformation and openness of both Manhattan College and the local and national faith communities. “I believe that the Holocaust, Genocide and Interfiath Education Center at Manhattan College is the only Holocaust Center headed by a Muslim woman in the nation”-Mary Pat Higgins, CEO Dallas Holocaust Museum History of the Center:  In the 1960s, after the Vatican II document “Nostra Aetate,” the New York Diocese and the Anti-Defamation League planned to work together to improve Catholic-Jewish relations. The Archbishop requested that Manhattan College prepare for him a 60 page summary about Judaism. A young history professor, Frederick M. Schweitzer, was assigned the task. The 60 pages became a 300 page book, and a professor found his life’s work. Dr. Schweitzer’s study of Judaism, Anti-Semitism, and the Holocaust led to 4 books, numerous articles and lectures, and in 1996 the founding of the Manhattan College Holocaust Resource Center.   The Manhattan College Holocaust Resource Center grew out of discussions between concerned faculty and administrators at the College led by Rose Santos-Cunningham, Brother Peter Drake, F. S. C., and Frederick M. Schweitzer and members of the Riverdale community, most notably Martin Spett, Lou Falkenstein, and the late Martin Richman during the 1995-1996 academic year. The Center's Charter was approved by the President of the College, Brother Thomas Scanlan, F. S. C. in 1996.       Dr. Frederick M. Schweitzer, Founder with Rabbi Stephen Franklin, Emeritus Chair of HGI & Rabbi at Reform Temple, Riverdale   We have had an exciting 2016-2017 academic year at Manhattan College and we hope that you were able to attend some of our events. The Manhattan College Holocaust, Genocide and Interfaith Education Center (HGI Center) hosted several memorable events in this year.  We have highlighted a few that demonstrate our commitment to the Holocaust, Genocide and Interfaith Lessons.    Highlights:  Lessons of the Holocaust               Our events this past academic year began on September 21st with a reading of Rivka Basman Ben-Haim’s poetry was 14 when the Nazis took over her town - and 18 when World War II ended.  She began composing Yiddish poems in the Vilna ghetto - and is still writing poetry at 90.  Rivka has won every award known to the world of Yiddish writers.  Translator and reader Zelda Kahan Newman, former head of Judaic Studies at Lehman College, is a linguist whose specialty is Yiddish language and culture.  For more than two decades, she has translated Rivka Basman Ben-Haim’s poetry.   In November we held the Ninth annual Frederick M. Schweitzer Lecture commemorating Kristallnacht, given by Dr. Maud Mandel, entitled, “”Is Fraternity Possible-Muslim-Jewish Relations in Contemporary France,”  she drew more than 250 people in attendance.  This lecture also brought up timely concerns of Jewish-Muslim Relations and the question of the refugee crisis.  In March we hosted a workshop on Memory and Generations for 27 students that were enrolled in Dr. Afridi’s Religion and Holocaust class.  This workshop taught students through their own family stories to understand the loss and suffering of families during the Holocaust.  It was a workshop with sketches and portraits that had an amazing long-term impact on the students. Laurie Weisman and Roz Jacobs, Co-founders of The Memory Project Productions ran the workshop and were fabulous.     Student’s work Religion and Holocaust ‘17   Genocide Lessons:   We hosted several genocide related events and partnered with faculty from School of Liberal Arts and School of Science.  We hosted Carmen-Francesca Banciu who read from her riveting book “Mother’s Day”---her reading was focused around “Breaking Through From We to I: The Struggle for Selfhood under Communism,” she discussed the power of ideology and the impact of communism as a form of genocide in Romania.   Dr. Afridi and Carmen-Francesca Banciu We also screened the movie, “White Helmets” on the Syrian Crisis to educate students what was occurring in places like Aleppo and discussed the genocide against the Yazidi Syrians. We invited our Syrian student who has been at MC for a year for a discussion after the film   In the spring we hosted a lecture by Dr. Mike Wessells on Children Soldiers and War.  This was attended by over 100 students who had a host of questions about war, genocide and the condition of children.  “Inside armed groups or forces, children often witness or perpetrate killings, undergo brutal ‘‘training’’ in which they may be forced to kill other children in the group who try to escape, and attack armed enemies or unarmed civilians, including their own villages.”  Dr. Mike Wessells         Interfaith Lessons:   “Thank you for making Yom Hashoah so special at Manhattan College. Thank you for bringing all faiths together at the Holocaust, Genocide and Interfaith Education Center” ___Riverdale Resident, April 2017   “Manhattan College is a safe place for all faiths, thank you for the space and the facilitation through HGI” ___Riverdale Clergy Member, April 2017  “As a Catholic student, during Kristallnacht there were candles that were lit to commemorate the event. I felt a sense of pride in lighting the candles in memory of the victims. Thank you” ____MC Student ‘17 We hosted Ruth Boyde-Sharone on her new concept of “An Interfaith Musical” and we invited community members to join us for some food and conversation about interfaith relations.  We had 20-30 people (including students) who wanted to have a discussion about the relations between religion and politics in the United States.   Dr. Afridi and Ruth Boyde-Sharone We also partnered with the Muslim Students Association to help the students, faculty and community have an open discussion about the Muslim ban.  This was an amazing event with over 100 students who wanted to discuss the recent Muslim Ban prescribed by President Trump.  We had a working session; we invited the part-time chaplain Imam Sameer and the former President of MSA, Haris Ali spoke about positive relations between Muslims and Americans.   We hosted a final event with the Riverdale and Knightsbridge Clergy on “Interfaith Solidarity.” We hosted more than 100 community members from churches, synagogues, the Sikh Coalition, The Andalusia School, and Manhattan College students.  This event was in April and we also commemorated Yom Hashoah and Rivka’s Notebook was presented by Richard Feldman and his friends.  A big THANK YOU to Rabbi Linda Shriner-Cahn Rabbi of Congregation Tehillah who organized and led the group.  What a tremendous success and community building.    Director News:               This year, Dr. Afridi has traveled from Ohio to Minnesota to San Francisco and this summer to Sarajevo for conferences and her book tour.  She has just published her book, “Shoah through Muslim Eyes” (Academic Studies Press, 2017).              Dr. Afridi was also honored in being awarded the Lee Heimlich Community Service Award from the Benjamin Franklin Reform Democratic Club on May 4, 2017.  She was honored alongside Senator Eric Schneiderman, NY State Attorney General.     We are excited to announce that we will run a one week Inter-religious training program for religious leaders in the summer of 2018.  We also will be announcing a new space for HGI in O’Malley Library 5th floor to house new archives on Herman Ziering (survivor and Nazi-hunter).  We will have an opening reception and display at the end of the spring 2018. We are also pleased to exhibit photos by survivor and one of the founders of the Center, Martin Spett at the O’Malley Library.  We will be rotating his artwork every semester and have it on view for all visitors.  By Martin Spett (O’Malley Library, 5th floor, Manhattan College)   Save the following dates:   September 13th-- at 7:00pm A performance by Zarqa Nawaz who is a British-Canadian freelance writer, journalist, broadcaster, and filmmaker of Pakistani origin. She mixes comedy and religion. Hayden 100 November 7th—at 6:00pm Tenth Annual Frederick M. Schweitzer Lecture, Dr. Susannah Heschel Lecture title TBA Kelly Commons 5 A & B   We thank you for your continued support and hope to see you at our events this next academic year.  All of our events are free and open to the public, please consider making a generous donation to The Holocaust, Genocide and Interfaith Education Center at Manhattan College.  Thanking you in advance in helping the world become more aware, peaceful and educated.   Sincerely,   Dr. Mehnaz M. Afridi Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Director---Holocaust, Genocide, and Interfaith Education Center   Riverdale, New York 10471” - Mehnaz Afridi

June 1st 2017

Dr. Afridi was interviewed about the economics of the current refugee crisis in Europe. To listen to her discussion on the "RadioIslam" podcast click here.” - The Economics of the Refugee Crisis


Dr. Mehnaz M. Afridi, director of the Manhattan College Center for Holocaust, Genocide, and Interfaith Education will speak at the 2016 Monna and Otto Weinmann Annual Lecture,''Redefining Antisemitism through the Stories of Jews and Muslims during the Holocaust'' on June 1, 2016 at the USHMM in Washington, D.C.. For information on how to attend, please click here. ” - Dr. Afridi to Speak in Nation's Capital

— United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Dr. Afridi made a presentation at the UCONN in Hartford. For a write up and photos of the event, please check here.” - "Dr. Mehnaz Afridi,a Muslim Professor from Manhattan College in NYC, visited the UHA and UCONN campuses on March 3, 2016"

JAN KARSKI EXHIBIT OPENS TO MUCH FANFARE THE WORLD KNEW: JAN KARSKI'S MISSION FOR HUMANITY, the exhibit commemorating the late hero, makes it Manhattan College debut on Feb. 9 in the Manhattan College Alumni Room. To see photographs from this event, please see our photo gallery here.     ” - JAN KARSKI EXHIBIT OPENS TO MUCH FANFARE

— Manhattan College

Dr. Afridi was interviewed by the Steve Scher of the University of Washington. To listen to the interview, please click here. ” - "At Length with Mehnaz Afridi"

— University of Washington

HGI is proud to support the Manhattan College "Racial Justice Teach In" initiative on Campus”


HGI has partnered with the I AM YOUR PROTECTOR (see link for details) and Dr. Afridi is a writer for the campaign. Be sure to check out this wonderful movement where the mission is "Our goal for this campaign is to have 1 million people exposed to those stories that challenge indiscriminate hate, by presenting Protectors from groups often depicted as a threat or an enemy. Like on Facebook Visit the website  ”


NEWSLETTER MAY 2015   Dear Friends and MC Community:   We have had an exciting 2014-2015 academic year at Manhattan College and we hope that you were able to attend some of our events. The Manhattan College Holocaust, Genocide and Interfaith Education Center (HGI Center) hosted several memorable events in this year.   Past Events:               Our events this past academic year began in September with a lecture given by Dr. Charles H. Long entitled, “Dilemmas of American Religion.”  His lecture focused on the reasons why religion in American society is often times skewed and used out of context to harm rather than protect.  Our event in October, “Jews, Christians, and Muslims: Challenging Extremism Today” was an open discussion on the recent religious extremism in the media and the Middle East.  There was a panel of knowledgeable NYC community leaders there to answer questions on religious extremism.  Students, faculty and community attended.   In November we held the seventh annual Frederick Schweitzer Lecture commemorating Kristallnacht, given by Dr. Murray Baumgarten, entitled, “The Letters Propelled Me: Resisting Kristallnacht Then and Now” brought in many local and New York leaders.                              Dr. Afridi and Dr. Baumgarten at the 7th Annual Schweitzer Lecture.   In the spring, our first event of this semester was a presentation given by Sander L. Gilman entitled, “Is Antisemitism a Mental Illness?” Story link:,56548    Followed by an interfaith Seder on March 25th led by Rabbi Asher Lopatin, the Seder celebrated the year- long YHS Fellowship: Bridging Faiths through the Holocaust in partnership with SelfHelp and the Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School and three Holocaust survivors.  Story link:,56691          Due to harsh weather conditions in January, our event was rescheduled and took place in April.  The daughter of survivors, Janet Pfeffer Vignola presented on her family’s personal journey with the Holocaust across three generations, entitled, “Salt of the Earth: Three Families Before, during, and After the Holocaust.”  Also in April, we had the pleasure of hosting Roger Grunwald for a performance of his one-man show about the Holocaust, entitled, “The Mitzvah Project.”   This was a unique performance and story of Jews who were conscripted in the Nazi Party. From his website: “The Mitzvah Project is a combination theater, history lesson and conversation in which actor and child of survivor, Roger Grunwald, explores one of the most shocking aspects of the Jewish experience during the Second World War. Through the story of Christoph Rosenberg, a German half-Jew, the one-person drama — created with director and co-author Annie McGreevey — reveals the surprising history of tens of thousands of German men known as "mischlings" — the derogatory term the Nazis used to characterize those descended from one or two Jewish grandparents — who served in Hitler's army. Grunwald's lecture delves deeper into the history that produced these mischling-soldiers — men who were the product of two centuries of German-Jewish assimilation, intermarriage, conversion and the striving of a people committed to calling the German Fatherland their home. After the lecture, Grunwald leads a discussion with the audience.”                In March, Dr. Afridi traveled to Venice, Italy to firm up the intercession program in January 2016 commemorating the 500 year anniversary of the Jewish ghetto.  She also delivered a lecture at Ca’Foscari in Venice on Jewish-Muslim Relations. This will be an ongoing academic program with two Manhattan College faculty and 18-20 students who will study the interfaith elements of Venice and provide service to the local communities.                    In May, Manhattan College and HGI were honored to welcome President Bujar Nishani of the Republic of Albania for a luncheon.  President Nishani recognized the Center and Manhattan College as a unique place where all faiths were recognized equally and are doing work on understanding and cooperation at such a volatile time.     Dr. O’Donnell, President of Manhattan College, Dr. Afridi, Director of HGI Center and President Nishani of Albania.   Acquisitions and Research:   Debbie Ziering, a friend of HGI has donated research relating to her father, Herman Ziering who was a Holocaust survivor and became a Nazi hunter.  HGI will be archiving this story during the summer. We have also received an additional 83 books relating to the Holocaust this past year.   Student accomplishments and the Center: Jande Moscot, ’15 English Major and Religious Studies Minor and the student assistant for HGI won the first prize in the Center for Ethics, Ethics Across the Curriculum Essay Competition for her paper, "Women, Rape, and Genocide: Case Studies During the Holocaust.   James Noeker, ’17 Business Major and Communications Minor has received a Jasper Summer Research Scholars Program on his work this summer with Dr. Afridi on “Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust”.     Congratulations to our three fellows, James Noeker, ‘17 Lenisa Patterson’15 and Ryan Waters ‘16 this last year for all their hard work.  We look forward to the taping of the final interviews with the survivors in the fall.   James Noeker, Ryan Waters, Lenisa Patterson and Madeline Coleman (survivor) lighting candles at Kristallnacht.            We continue to work on the four major initiatives at the Center and we are happy to report that all of the initiatives have been accomplished this year.   The YTS Fellowship: Bridging Faiths Through the Holocaust, Venice Project: 500 Years at the Crossroads of Faith, Service work in Parkchester, Bronx at the Masjid Al-Iman, 2016 spring conference on Abrahamic Religions: Challenges and Cooperation in the Age of Extremism and the creation of a new taskforce under the umbrella of HGI, “New York Faith Leaders against Extremism” ----these have been implemented and will be ongoing initiatives.                 Please see the following links for news on Dr. Afridi and HGI Center:   Save the following dates:   September 9th-- at 5:30pm, Peter B. Gudaitis, President of the National Interfaith Taskforce. Place TBA.   November 12th—at 5:30pm 8th Annual Schweitzer Lecture, TBA   February 28th –March 1st (9-6pm) Abrahamic Religions: Challenges and Cooperation in the Age of Extremism --Mini Conference, Place to be announced.  You will receive a schedule for the conference in the fall.   April 4th—5:30pm Spring Lecture, Dr. Zain Abdullah, Temple University, PA. Place TBA.   We thank you for your continued support and hope to see you at our events this next academic year.  All of our events are free and open to the public, please consider making a generous donation to The Holocaust, Genocide and Interfaith Education Center at Manhattan College.  Thanking you in advance in helping the world become more aware, peaceful and cooperative at a time of extremism and turmoil.   Sincerely,   Dr. Mehnaz M. Afridi Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Director---Holocaust, Genocide, and Interfaith Education Center   Riverdale, New York 10471” - Mehnaz Afridi


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