An interfaith peace garden created in the memory of a Loyola Marymount University professor’s son will be dedicated on the campus at 12:15 p.m. Thursday, April 25.
The garden honors Avi Schaefer – the 21-year-old son of LMU Professor Arthur Gross-Schaefer and his wife, Laurie – who was killed on Feb. 12, 2010 by a drunk driver. During his brief life, Avi Schaefer was deeply involved in the Jewish community in his hometown of Santa Barbara, say university officials.
The memorial is comprised of stone pillars and benches with quotes about peace etched on them.
Rabbi Gross-Schaefer said the interfaith peace garden, located on the LMU campus adjacent to the Collins Faculty and Alumni Center, was created in honor his son’s life but also in part, to acknowledge the efforts of the Avi Schaefer Fund, which promotes civility and dialogue on college campuses.
“Our family decided not to focus on how he died, which would move us to a place of anger and revenge, but rather to emphasize that he lived to promote peace and understanding,” he said.
Avi Schaefer moved to Israel at age 18 and served three years in the Israeli army, where he was selected as a member of a special-forces combat unit. However, despite his combat training, the young man believed there could be peace between the Israelis and Palestinians and believed that there should be open dialogue between the two groups to achieve peace, his father said.
The Gross-Schaefer family hopes that the garden will become a place for faculty and students to gather for classes and to discuss peace.