Xavier to Auction Art to Benefit Darfur



On Thursday, April 22, 2010 from 5:30-7:00 p.m. in the Clock Tower Lounge of the Gallagher Student Center on the Xavier University campus, the Pi Upsilon Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho, Xavier?s African Student Association, Xavier?s Office of Interfaith Community Engagement and Xavier?s Department of Art will host an art auction. Proceeds will benefit HIAS? (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) work to provide healthcare, shelter, and rehabilitative services to Darfur refugees in Chad. Xavier Chief of Police Mike Couch, also a licensed auctioneer, will preside. While auction admission is free, donations and frequent bidding are highly encouraged. The public is welcome and reservations are not necessary.


?An historically Black sonority and the African student society are using the vehicle of the auction to raise funds for a historically Jewish refugee organization that will spend every penny helping Muslim refugees from Darfur,? says Rabbi Abie Ingber, founding director of Xavier?s Office of Interfaith Community Engagement. ?In a world as fractured as ours that is a point of great significance.?


The auction will feature a variety of art genres and media, many of which center on an African theme. But there will be glassware, pottery, and other genres. A preview mixer will begin at 4:30 and refreshments will be available. A winner and runners-up of African-themed art competition will be recognized.

This is the latest in a number of efforts to provide aid in Africa. In April of 2008, Xavier?s Black Student Association and Department of Art raised $2,000 to fund a full year of study for two victims of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. The donation was made to Orphans of Rwanda International, a non-profit organization providing educational opportunities to genocide victims. In March, 2009, Rabbi Abie Ingber, traveled to Darfur with HIAS president Gideon Aronoff. The photographs he took and those taken by the refugees themselves have been exhibited widely.


Xavier University Observes Holocaust Remembrance Day

Holocaust artifact display and film screening free and open to all


On April 12, Xavier University?s Office of Interfaith Community Engagement will offer two programs in observance of Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. Both are free and open.

From 11am until 4pm, Steven F. Cassidy will bring his collection of Holocaust and World War II-era original artifacts to the Xavier campus and display them on the 3rd floor of the Gallagher Student Center. Cassidy and Rabbi Abie Ingber will be with the artifacts all day long, helping visitors learn and experience these remnants of the Holocaust. This will be a rare chance to see this many important historic artifacts up close and learn from their curator and collector the history each represents. Cassidy is a Holocaust expert and owner of the largest private collection of Holocaust artifacts in the United States. He has personally spoken to both concentration camp survivors and convicted Nazi war criminals and continually researches this period in world history. His collection includes Jewish money, a Secret Service uniform and hat, concentration camp uniforms and patches, propaganda posters, gas cylinders and gas masks from the extermination camps, and photos.At 8:30 pm in Long Recital Hall on the first floor of Edgecliff Hall the film ?Paper Clips? will be shown. It is a moving and inspiring documentary that captures how rural Tennessee students responded to lessons about the Holocaust - with a promise to honor every lost soul by collecting one paper clip for each individual exterminated by the Nazis. Despite the fact that they had previously been unaware of the Holocaust, their dedication was absolute. Their plan was simple but profound. The amazing result, a memorial railcar filled with 11 million paper clips (representing 6 million Jews and 5 million gypsies, homosexuals and other victims of the Holocaust) which stands permanently in their schoolyard, is an unforgettable lesson of how a committed group of children and educators can change the world one classroom at a time.


Xavier rabbi and local restaurant owner team up to host benefit for Haiti earthquake relief

Andy's Mediterranean Grill is hosting the five-hour event of food and entertainment


Xavier?s Office of Interfaith Community Engagement and the Student Government Association are teaming up with Andy?s Mediterranean Grill to host an evening of good food and entertainment to benefit the relief effort in Haiti.

The Benefit for Haiti is being held on Tuesday, Feb. 23, from 5:00-10:00 p.m., at the restaurant, 906 Nassau St., off Gilbert Avenue in Cincinnati. All sales and tips generated during the event are going to two organizations that are dedicated to improving health and living conditions in Haiti?Partners in Health, which provides medical care, and La Maison des Enfants de Dieu, an orphanage in Port-au-Prince.

Andy's is the creation of brothers Majed and "Big Andy" Hajjar, natives of Zahle, Lebanon. The restaurant is decorated with Mediterranean-themed art and has a collection of hookahs, smoking pipes for flavored tobaccos. The menu of Mediterranean food uses spices to enhance flavor rather than fat and salt.

Entertainment for the event includes Andy?s belly dancers and the band The Fabulous Cheap Suits which includes several Xavier faculty members. Rabbi Abie Ingber, founder of the Office of Interfaith Community Engagement, helped coordinate the event with Andy and student Daniel Francis.

Partners In Health, founded by Dr. Paul Farmer, has been in Haiti for more than 20 years and brings modern medical care to poor communities in 12 countries. It has three goals: to care for patients, to alleviate the root causes of disease in their communities, and to share lessons learned with the world. Based in Boston, Partners in Health has more than 11,000 employees, including doctors, nurses and community health workers, most of whom work on site. 

La Maison orphanage is the group from which Xavier theology professor Chris Pramuk and his wife recently adopted two children. Sophia and Henry David were united with their new family on Jan. 27. Many children in Haiti still need the services of La Maison and other agencies.

This is the second benefit created by Rabbi Abie Ingber and Andy Hajjar. The first, in 2006, raised more than $10,000 for hospitals in Lebanon and Israel.



Physics professor's Torah reached for the stars during space shuttle flight of Atlantis

Henry Fenichel speaks at Xavier about science, faith, history and humanity


Henry Fenichel, emeritus professor of physics at the University of Cincinnati, is speaking at 7:00 p.m. today, Feb. 1, at Xavier about the Torah he sent into space aboard the space shuttle Atlantis in 2006 and its connection to the Holocaust.

?Reach for the Stars: An evening of science, faith, history and the human person,? is the topic of Fenichel?s talk today in the Lindner Family Physics Building on campus. The presentation is free and open to the public. The event takes place on the seventh anniversary of the disintegration of the Columbia space shuttle during re-entry into Earth's atmosphere, 16 minutes prior to its scheduled landing on Feb. 1, 2003. All crew members perished.

Fenichel is sharing his story about the Torah, his unique background as a Holocaust survivor and his connection to astronaut Ilan Ramon, a crew member of Columbia. Ramon, the first Israeli astronaut and the son and grandson of Holocaust survivors, carried a number of Holocaust artifacts aboard the Columbia, including a small Torah.

The Torah was given to Ramon by his mentor and friend, astrophysicist Joachim Joseph, who was a Holocaust survivor from Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. A Rabbi at the camp gave Joseph the Torah so he could tell their story if he survived. The Rabbi died in the camp, but Joseph survived and sent the Torah with Ramon on the Columbia.

Ramon also took a pencil sketch by a 14-year-old boy who died in Auschwitz. The boy's sketch of the earth as if viewed from the Moon disintegrated along with the Torah in the Columbia disaster.

Fenichel had collected his own Holocaust artifacts, including a yellow ?Jude? star and a small Torah scroll given him by a cousin who escaped Nazi Germany. The Torah was almost identical to Ramon?s. Fenichel allowed his Torah scroll to be taken on the Atlantis space shuttle mission in September 2006 in memory of Ramon.

"The Torah represents the survival of the Jewish people, the ability to rise from the depth of despair in the Holocaust and reach for the stars. It symbolizes a hopeful promise for a new beginning and a shining example of respect between cultures and religions," Fenichel said.

In a part of Ramon?s diary that survived the disaster, he wrote, ?From space our world looks as one entity with no borders. Let's work for peace and a better life for everyone on Earth."



Xavier University students start 2010 with an interfaith medical mission trip to Jamaica

Pre-professional health students are learning about the medical needs of Jamaican residents


A group of Xavier pre-professional health students are kicking off the new year with an interfaith medical mission trip to Jamaica. From Jan. 2-9, 13 students are traveling to Jamaica with a doctor and nurse from TriHealth Cincinnati and Rabbi Abie Ingber, the founding director of Xavier?s Office of Interfaith Community Engagement.

The students are shadowing the medical professionals in a health center located in the mountain community of Steer Town, Jamaica. They are also meeting theologians of different faith traditions common in and native to Jamaica.?In the midst of America?s passionate debate about healthcare,? says Ingber, ?Xavier students will come face to face with a Jamaican community desperate for medical attention. The students will shadow professionals from TriHealth in serving hundreds of impoverished residents of Steer Town, Jamaica. While immersing themselves in Jamaican culture, they will also reflect on the multicultural and interfaith diversity of their own group members. Not only will our college students do good, they will grow professionally in the process."Ingber said he wants the students to reflect on the diversity of the world and on how their different faith traditions brought them to Jamaica to serve the poor residents of Steer Town.?Simply put, we are trying to develop the next generation of American leadership both at home and in our larger world community,? Ingber said.Donations to the students? medical mission work are welcome. Call 513-745-3569 or e-mail wetterauat@xavier.edu for information.



Xavier University resurrects the Nearly Naked Mile to benefit a medical mission trip to Jamaica

Pre-professional health students are learning about the medical needs of Jamaican residents


Xavier University students shed ?nearly all" their clothes?or dressed Jamaican-style?and raced a mile in chilly weather, raising funds to send pre-professional health students on a service trip to Jamaica in January.

The Nearly Naked Mile was resurrected on Thursday, Nov. 19, at 8:00 p.m. About 80 participants in skimpy gear raced down the academic mall from Husman Hall to the intramural fields, then raced back to Husman. Prizes were awarded for the best costume and for the two fastest male and female runners.

The race helps pay for the trip to Jamaica. From Jan. 2-9, 2010, 13 pre-professional health students are traveling to Jamaica on an interfaith and medical mission trip, along with a doctor and nurse from TriHealth and Rabbi Abie Ingber, founding director of Xavier?s Office of Interfaith Community Engagement.

The students are shadowing the doctor and nurse at a mountain health care center that serves impoverished residents of Steertown, Jamaica. They also are meeting with theologians of different faith traditions common in and native to Jamaica.

?In the midst of America?s passionate debate about health care, Xavier students will come face to face with a Jamaican community desperate for any medical attention,? Ingber says.

?While immersing themselves in Jamaican culture, they will reflect on the multicultural and interfaith diversity of their own group members. As we spend our week in Jamaican poverty, I want them to reflect on the diversity of this world and on how their different faith traditions brought them all to this same place to use their education to serve an impoverished community. Simply put, we are trying to develop the next generation of American leadership both at home and in our larger world community.?


A New Concentration

By Skip Tate

Rabbi Abie Ingber sits quietly, his hands under his chin, contemplating how to explain his experience. The board member of Xavier?s Brueggeman center for interreligious dialogue and Hillel rabbi for the University?s Jewish students was part of a 10-person congregation from Xavier that had just returned from the Center for Dialogue and Prayer in Oswiecim, Poland. For 10 days, the group toured the former Nazi concentration camps at Auschwitz and Birkenau. They dialogued with Christians and Jews from Germany and Poland, heard stories from survivors and visited the city where Ingber?s father was taken by the Nazis.

?I expected it to be like going to the dentist for a tooth extraction,? he says, ?but it turned out to be one of the most amazing events ever.?

Ingber is sitting around a table with others from the group who are recounting the trip and trying to express all the emotion they felt then and in the two weeks since their return. For Ingber, it was especially emotional. Both of his parents survived the Holocaust, meeting at a displacement camp after the war. But he lost all of his grandparents and numerous extended family members in the camps.

?It was really very risky for me to go,? he says, ?but I thought I could add something to the trip?color. For me, Auschwitz was going to be black and white, evil vs. good. But I thought I might be able to bring some colored paint brushes, so when we toured towns where no Jew has lived for 60 years, I could paint a picture of what it used to be like with thousands of Jews walking the streets.?

He pauses.

?And, I thought I would spend every second that my feet were on the ground being angry over what happened to my family. But I ended up feeling a tremendous sense of love and embrace. And that was not something that I gave, but was something the people I was with pulled out of me. I?ve spoken about this a lot, and what keeps coming back to me is seeing this place of my family?s destruction with these people who hold the keys to every family?s redemption.?

That, in fact, was the purpose of the trip and the reason the Center for Dialogue and Prayer was formed 10 years ago. Twice now the center has created international dialogues. The University of Notre Dame was previously the only university from America invited to attend the dialogues. Xavier and Hebrew Union College were invited this year. Xavier?s invitation came as a result of Elizabeth Groppe, who joined the University?s theology faculty last year after completing her doctorate at Notre Dame. She went on the first trip, and was extended an invitation by Rabbi Michael Singer, Notre Dame?s distinguished chair of Jewish studies. The opportunity, says department of theology chair William Madges, was too great to pass up, especially after the Brueggeman center agreed to pay almost all of the cost.

Because of the overwhelming interest once the trip was announced, the theology department created a selection process that required the submission of a one-page essay and an interview. Six students were selected, along with Madges, Ingber, Groppe and assistant professor of theology Sarah Melcher.

And to a person, what they thought they might experience or learn once they got there proved to be completely wrong. It was, they say, too mentally and emotionally overwhelming to comprehend. They celebrated a Jewish Shabbat service in a synagogue that hadn?t held a religious service since the Nazi occupation. They listened to a survivor talk about her experiences. And they walked through the gas chambers, barracks and crematories.

?The problem was just being able to take it all in,? says Madges. ?We spent 4 1/2 hours in Auschwitz. It was like walking through an outdoor museum. Then we spent four hours in Birkenau, which held more than 90,000 people and had four gas chambers and four crematories. After that we had a chance to go to a Franciscan monastery that had an exhibit about the Holocaust, and I couldn?t go. I couldn?t take any more. It was just that intense.?

?You almost become obsessed with trying to make sense of it all,? says senior Mindy Kuhlman. ?I?m one of the few Jewish students at Xavier. I?ve always been taught about Auschwitz and had a couple of opportunities to go to Poland, but I didn?t think I was emotionally ready or mature enough. But I needed to see the magnitude of that place that practically erased my entire religion. I couldn?t understand how they could house that many people and no one realize something bad was going on. But now I can see how they did it. I can?t bear witness to it entirely, though, because what I saw was a place with grass and trees. The barracks were museums. There weren?t bodies laying in feces. No dead bodies. But I am a witness to Germany and Poland trying to grow as countries. I walked the camp with a 25-year-old German who was crying the same as me, a 21-year-old Jew.?

?I can?t say the trip was enjoyable,? says graduate theology student Maimi Johnson. ?It was enlightening. I went there trying to determine what makes one group try to make another group subservient. From an African-American perspective, I see that as similar to what happened to us. Families were destroyed, homes ravaged. I?m still left with the question ?Why? Where was God? Why did He let this happen?? ?

Even for Groppe, who already visited the camps, seeing the place where more than 1 million Jews were slaughtered doesn?t get any easier the second time around.

?As a trained co-systematic theologian, I thought some things would become clearer,? she says. ?But when we walked through the gates of Auschwitz, any kind of processing that I thought I had come to before all crumbled. It became more complicated, more complex.?

The Center for Dialogue and Prayer only holds the international events every two years, but Madges wants to find a way to take a group of students to Poland every year because the trip proved so powerful.
?No organ was pulled from except from the heart,? says Ingber. ?No brain, no bile, no feet to run away. Just the heart.?