About Avi Schaefer

Avi Schaefer, z''l, was born June 11, 1988 to Rabbi Arthur Gross-Schaefer and artist Laurie Gross. Avi was raised in a loving Jewish home in Santa Barbara, California, with his brothers Noah, Yoav, and Elisha.  At age 18, Avi and his identical twin Yoav volunteered to serve as combat soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces.  Avi served in the army for three years, first as a soldier in a special forces unit and later going on to train some of Israel's most elite units as a counter-terrorism instructor.  Upon completion of his army service, Avi returned to the United States to begin his studies at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

In his few months at Brown Avi quickly distinguished himself as an accomplished student and a trusted voice for Israel and for peace.  Avi gracefully balanced his two passions, championing the Jewish state while simultaneously establishing deep lines of communication with students who held differing perspectives.  His life and work were tragically cut short on February 12, 2010, when he was struck and killed by a drunk driver while walking near campus.  In just 21 years, Avi became a living testament to the idea that one committed individual can truly make a difference.  His example leaves an indelible mark on this world in the lives of the people who knew him, and the thousands more inspired by his legacy of activism and compassion.  It is now the task of his family and friends to carry on the work he began.

Remembering Avi »

Updates From The Fund

  • Jewish and Muslim Students Dialogue at Hillel

    The idea to bring Avi Shabbat to our campus this year was inspired by the success of last year's event. Hearing from the students about the great experience they had made me want to make this event an annual one.

  • ‘Interfaith Shabbat’ serves up diversity with dinner

    Hillel, Muslim Student Association co-host 3rd annual event to celebrate differences in beliefs

    In the wake of religious turmoil gripping the world, Muslim and Jewish students at Binghamton University chose to set aside differences and set their plates for dinner instead.

  • New Avi Shabbat Resource

    The Avi Schaefer Fund is delighted to continue to partner with Hillel International and Ask Big Questions. Many of the campuses who participate in Avi Shabbat utilize ABQ in different ways, some have the ABQ fellows facilitate on their Shabbat conversations and others put their conversation guides into practice around the table, on the couch, and with communities on their campuses.

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