Three-Quarters of a Million Dollar Grant to Endow the Work of Seton Hill's National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education
Ethel LeFrak of New York, N.Y., has donated $750,000 to Seton Hill University’s National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education (NCCHE) to endow The Ethel LeFrak Holocaust Education Conference and create The Ethel LeFrak Student Scholars of the Holocaust Fund. Seton Hill’s National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education is the first – and only - center of its kind in the world.
In commenting on the magnitude and largesse of the contribution, Seton Hill President JoAnne Boyle said, “Ethel LeFrak and the LeFrak family are cherished friends of Seton Hill. The LeFraks continue to enrich the cultural and educational tapestry of our nation and the world through their philanthropy. We are privileged that their support will further peace and understanding by exposing our students to important programs of our Holocaust Center.”
"For more than a decade Ethel LeFrak has taken a keen interest in the work of Seton Hill University's National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education," added Sr. Gemma Del Duca, S.C., Founder and Co-Director of the NCCHE in Israel. "Her gift comes at a time when our world faces tremendous discord. The devastation in Mumbai this past weekend underscores the significant need for the kind of work the Center supports. Ethel LeFrak's generosity will help with the challenge that remains before us—to join our Jewish sisters and brothers in the great task of 'Tikkun Olam,' the mending of the world through reconciliation, understanding, and education."
Michele Ridge, Chair of the Seton Hill University Board of Trustees added, “The National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education at Seton Hill University provides a model for teaching the Holocaust, and for building relations with the Jewish and Christian communities, indeed, all religious groups. We deeply value this munificent gift from Ethel LeFrak because it will ensure that the life-changing work of our Center continues in perpetuity.”
Sr. Lois Sculco, S.C., Vice President for Mission and Student Life and NCCHE Administrator at Seton Hill University, noted, “As an esteemed supporter of education, Ethel LeFrak embraces opportunities to better the lives of others. The generosity of the LeFrak family has been recognized by many institutions including the Guggenheim Museum, Temple Emanu-El on New York’s Fifth Avenue, the University of Maryland, The Pratt Institute, New York Presbyterian Hospital, the Metropolitan Opera, and the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. We are grateful for this noble and benevolent gift, and recognize that aligning the national and international work of our Holocaust Center with the LeFrak family name will bring renewed emphasis to a topic that affects all of society today.”
The triennial Holocaust Education Conference of the National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education – now known as The Ethel LeFrak Holocaust Education Conference – seeks to enhance Catholic-Jewish understanding by “educating the educators” in the hope of reaching the whole of humanity. The Conference equips teachers and faculty members, especially those at Catholic institutions, to enter into serious discussions on the causes of anti-Semitism and the Holocaust, and to write and deliver papers that shape appropriate curricular responses at Catholic institutions and other educational sites. More than 500 students, teachers, professors and scholars have attended each of the seven previous conferences. The next conference is scheduled for the fall of 2009. The Ethel LeFrak Holocaust Education Conference Endowment Fund will support the appearance at the conference of national and international speakers, sponsor the art exhibits that accompany the conference, and underwrite the publication of The Ethel LeFrak Holocaust Education Conference Proceedings.
"This Center will allow for positive, sustainable change," said Rabbi Alvin Berkun, a member of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations and the immediate past President of the Rabbinical Assembly. "This gift will provide Seton Hill the opportunity to train teachers to ensure that future students learn, not only about the past, but about the progress that has been made in recent years and the possibilities for the future."
The Ethel LeFrak Student Scholars Fund provides annual student scholarships to support student participation in: the Summer Institute at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Remembrance Authority in Israel; The Ethel LeFrak Holocaust Education Conference; the Genocide and Holocaust Studies Program at Seton Hill; and activities relating to international travel, Jewish-Catholic traditions, and readings and research to advance understanding of significant Holocaust issues past and present.
Ethel LeFrak is the wife of the late Samuel J. LeFrak, chairman of the LeFrak Organization, one of the world’s leading building firms and a significant investor in energy. Ethel LeFrak is involved with the philanthropic efforts of the LeFrak family foundations, including supporting the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, the Queens College Concert Hall and the LeFrak Gymnasium at Barnard College. Ethel LeFrak is a graduate of Barnard and received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Seton Hill University in 1996 in recognition of her standing as a distinguished citizen of the world.
Concerning this contribution, Ethel LeFrak stated, “I consider myself so lucky to be part of this great endeavor initiated by Seton Hill. Together, with increased research towards understanding, we will make the world a better place.”
The National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education (NCCHE) was established on the campus of Seton Hill University in 1987. Seton Hill initiated this national Catholic movement toward Holocaust studies in response to the urging of Pope John Paul II to recognize the significance of the Shoah, the Holocaust, and to "promote the necessary historical and religious studies on this event which concerns the whole of humanity today." The NCCHE has as its primary purpose the broad dissemination of scholarship on the root causes of anti-Semitism, its relation to the Holocaust and the implications from the Catholic perspective of both for today's world. Toward this end the Center is committed to equipping scholars, especially those at Catholic institutions, to enter into serious discussion on the causes of anti-Semitism and the Holocaust; shaping appropriate curricular responses at Catholic institutions and other educational sites; sustaining Seton Hill's Catholic Institute for Holocaust Studies in Israel through a cooperative program with Yad Vashem, the Isaac Jacob Institute for Religious Law, and Hebrew University; encouraging scholarship and research through conferences, publications, workshops for educators, and similar activities; sponsoring local events on the Holocaust and related topics in the University and the community and enhancing Catholic-Jewish relations. Please contact the NCCHE by calling 724-830-1033 or sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Seton Hill’s program in Genocide and Holocaust Studies promotes and supports scholarship into the causes of the Holocaust and other genocides. The program, developed through the National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education (NCCHE), the Seton Hill Graduate and International Studies Program, and the Seton Hill Division of the Humanities, is offered completely online to allow international access for students, professors and scholars. Students can earn either a graduate-level certificate or an undergraduate minor through the program in Genocide and Holocaust Studies. Courses are taught by Seton Hill faculty and national and international scholars, including Dr. Michael Phayer, historian, professor emeritus at Marquette University, and author of numerous research articles and books relating to Nazi Germany, the Holocaust and the Catholic Church, and scholars from Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Remembrance Authority in Israel. Seton Hill’s program in Genocide and Holocaust Studies currently offers courses in Methods for Teaching the Holocaust, World War II, Christianity in Dialogue with Judaism, and Genocide in Comparative Perspective, along with opportunities for specialized research and internships in the field. For more information, contact Tracey Bartos, director of Graduate and Adult Studies, by phone at 724-838-4283 or 1-800-826-6234, x4209, or by e-mail: email@example.com.