June 28, 2007

Cambridge gets £1m for Jewish-Muslim centre

A Jewish philanthropist who was on the panel of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry has donated £1 million to a new centre for the study of Muslim-Jewish relations.

Richard Stone, a former GP and son of Lord Stone of Hendon, has given £1 million to the Woolf Institute, a body with close links to Cambridge University that specialises in the study of Jewish-Christian relations. The money, from his family’s Stone Ashdown Trust, is intended to mark the antiracist activities of Dr Stone over the past 30 years.

It will be used as an endowment to fund the work of the new Centre for the Study of Muslim-Jewish Relations, which will teach a Cambridge University course with the aim of overcoming prejudice and hostility between the two religions. Students will begin by researching the areas the two faiths have in common, such as monotheism, close family ties and diaspora communities.

Dr Stone told The Times he believed there had been a “serious lack” of academic study in this subject.

Once the centre in Cambridge is established, studies will develop into more controversial areas, including issues around Israel and the Palestinian territories.

The donation will be announced today by the Woolf Institute’s director Edward Kessler. Dr Kessler told The Times: “As far as I know, there is no centre that is examining the encounter between Muslims and Jews. We are really pioneering the way. I would like to see the work feed into the work of people who need to use inter-faith relations — the police, prison officers, teachers.”

Times Online

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