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Wiesenthal Center to expand tolerance education programs

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 29 (JTA) – In a major expansion, the Simon Wiesenthal Center has purchased a three-story building to house its extensive tolerance education programs for law enforcement officers, teachers, students and corporations. The $6.6 million facility lies directly across the street from the center’s Museum of Tolerance. Participants in the Tools for Tolerance and Steps to Tolerance program are exposed to the hands-on multimedia learning center, exhibits on the Holocaust and worldwide genocides, and workshops on racism and bigotry. A total of 20,000 policemen and sheriff’s deputies and 7,000 educators have graduated from the programs so far. During the last school year, 6,000 students from 117 public and private schools also participated. At a brief ceremony last week, the California Arts Council, a state agency, presented an over-sized check for $2.5 million to Rabbi Meyer May, the center’s executive director, as the state’s contribution toward the building purchase. As the most diverse state in the country, where public school students hail from 140 nations and speak 105 languages, California is the leader in lifelong tolerance education, said the council’s director, Barbara Pieper. The Wiesenthal Center will match this amount, and the remaining cost will be covered through rents from the building’s street-level tenants. “There is no better place to teach these programs than through the Museum of Tolerance, and what we do here has a national and global impact,” she added. Previous to the current grant, the center had received $11 million in state support. Part of the new building may also be used for the center’s proposed children’s museum, said Rabbi Marvin Hier, the center’s dean and founder.

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