The University of Rhode Island’s Hillel Jewish Student Organization is working towards cultural and religious harmony through their fourth annual Avi Schaefer Jewish/Muslim/Multicultural Shabbat dinner this Friday, February 6th.

Avi Schaefer attended Brown University after serving in the Israeli Defense Forces. He was inspired to relieve tensions that he saw occurring between Muslims and Jews on campus by actively participating in discussion to bring about change in the relationships between Israelis and Palestinians.

After he was killed by a drunk driver, his parents began the Avi Schaefer Fund in dedication to spreading his values of respect and understanding amongst cultures. URI’s Hillel Foundation applied and received a grant through the Avi Schaefer Fund to host it’s first dinner on campus in 2011.

Cooking will begin at 3:00 pm. The Indian Student Association will host the dinner while different cultures from across campus will share recipes, traditions, dances and a final dinner from 6:15 to 7:30. Last year, the Muslim Student Association hosted the dinner and members of the Catholic Center also made appearances.

Ariel Marcus ‘15, student Co-President of URI Hillel Foundation, looks back on the event. “It was nice that we could all be in the kitchen sharing different recipes and all cooking together,” she says. “We all shared either a prayer or something before we ate…how our religion relates to food. It’s cool to learn about the different faiths.”

The event aims to demonstrate the Schaefer family’s mission here at URI. “We try not to talk about things that will start conflict, more just getting to know each other and get to a point where we can eventually talk about the serious topics,” Ariel Marcus says.

“We don’t know a lot about each other and we really don’t know how the other feels. We’re all humans and we have different beliefs, but we’re all here together.”