Presidential Life Founder and Philanthropist Herb Kurz and Nyack Center Director Kim Cross will be honored at the Fellowship of Reconciliation’s Winter Solstice Celebration on Sun Dec 14 as the 2014 Nyack Peace Prize Winners. Kurz passed away on Nov 24 just days after FOR announced the award.
“When Herb Kurz learned that he was chosen to receive the Nyack Area Peace Award, he very quickly responded with gratitude and asked that we give his portion of the award money to the Nyack Center,” says Linda E. Kelly, Director of Communications at FOR. Kelley says Kurz’s son, Leonard, will be accepting the award on behalf of his father.
The Fellowship of Reconciliation’s Nyack Area Peace Prize honors an organization or individual involved in significant peace and justice work in the local community where FOR’s national headquarters is located. “Both of these individuals, and their organizations, are inspirational change-makers whose grassroots efforts have inspired countless others,”said FOR’s Meredith Nicolich.
“I am humbled to be honored in this way, especially with Herb Kurz, a life long philanthropist and activist,” said Cross. “The timing of this award gives me an opportunity to remind everyone about the important work we do at the Nyack Center.” Cross has been an active member of Rockland Non-Profits Matter, a coalition of groups which has been pressing the county government to continue funding the Nyack Center and other Rockland non profits. County Executive Ed Day has proposed eliminating all funding for Rockland non-profits.
The Kurz family has made a $25,000 donation to be matched against any contribution to the Nyack Center in December. “Herb has been a supporter of the Nyack Center since its inception,” added Cross.
For 40 years founder Herb Kurz ran Presidential Life, a Nyack life insurance company that was acquired in 2012 by a Bermuda holding company and renamed Athene. Kurz was a life-long progressive supporter of civil liberty activism. Many of Presidential Life’s business practices were ahead of their time, setting a precedent for socially responsible action. Kurz was honored by President Bill Clinton at the White House Conference on Corporate Citizenship in 1996. As a philanthropist, Mr. Kurz has supported numerous Rockland County organizations, including Rockland Community College. In addition, he was the key funder of the NYU Tamiment Library’s Frederic Ewen Center, named for his uncle, a Brooklyn College professor who was blacklisted during the McCarthy era. Mr. Kurz also endowed a chair in constitutional rights at Brooklyn College, his alma mater. After World War II, in which he served as a navigator aboard B-26 bombers, he founded Veterans Against Discrimination, which became an active element within the radical Civil Rights Congress.
As Executive Director of the Nyack Center for the past 13 years, Kim Cross has created connections across social, cultural and economic boundaries by supporting children, youth, and families through educational and recreational programs. Founded in 1990, the non-profit Nyack Center offers before-school and after-school programs and provides access to computers for students as well as before-school Breakfast Club program which serves 40 kids and and after school program for 85 young people. Late Night Teen Fridays, a substance-free performance program run by and for teenagers, is entering its 10th year of operation. Future plans include building a sound and recording studio on premises, and offering healthy-cooking, music, and painting classes to adults and seniors.
The Fellowship of Reconciliation was founded in 1914 following an unsuccessful ecumenical conference seeking to prevent World War I. Two of the conference participants, Henry Hodgkin, an English Quaker, and Friedrich Siegmund-Schultze, a German Lutheran, pledged to find a way of working for peace even though their countries were at war. Out of this pledge Christians gathered in Cambridge, England in December 1914 to found the Fellowship of Reconciliation. The U.S. FOR was founded one year later, in November 1915, at a conference in Garden City, Long Island, New York. Today FOR is an interfaith and international movement with branches and affiliated groups in over 50 countries and on every continent. Today the membership of FOR includes Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, Indigenous religious practitioners, Baha’i, and people of other faith traditions, as well as those with no formal religious affiliation.
- Rockland nonprofits rally against proposed cuts, Journal News, 11/19/2014
- Nyack Sketch Log: Nyack Center, 12/6/2011
- Local Peace Awards to be Presented at Winter Solstice Concert, forusa.org 11/19/2014
- Herb Kurz: Life Insurance and Civil Liberties, JewishCurrents.org 3/15/2013
Illustration: ©2014 Bill Batson