Noted philanthropist and Crossroads grandparent Younes Nazarian passed away on Friday, March 18, at the age of 91. Younes and his wife, Soraya Nazarian, were immensely generous supporters of Crossroads School, from which three of their 11 grandchildren graduated. In keeping with their lifelong passion for social justice, they established the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Equity & Justice Distinguished Lecture Series
in 2018, a key feature of Crossroads School’s Equity & Justice Institute. The series is an initiative of the Younes & Soraya Nazarian Family Foundation, which supports educational causes in a broad spectrum of institutions and through a wide variety of avenues: academic, public policy, community-based, social and artistic programs in the United States and Israel.
The Distinguished Lecture Series at Crossroads helps stimulate dialogue among students, educators and community leaders committed to tackling the problems of racism, poverty, war, environmental degradation, educational inequities, religious persecution, genocide and other forms of injustice. In virtual and in-person events that are open to the public, nationally and internationally recognized thought leaders discuss a specific topic related to equity and justice. Speakers have included Joanna Mendelson, associate director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism; anti-racist historian Ibram X. Kendi; and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta.
Annually, the lecture series features a speaker or film that addresses the Holocaust in the knowledge that Holocaust education is essential to fighting antisemitism and combatting all forms of genocide.
“Younes lived a remarkable life, setting an example for all of us through his warmth, his generosity and his love for his family,” reflects Head of School Bob Riddle. “Indeed, the world is a better place because Younes Nazarian has lived in it, and I am so grateful for all the ways he has been an agent for change in the world. All of us feel deeply honored to have his and Soraya’s name on our Equity & Justice Distinguished Lecture Series.”
Younes Nazarian was born in Tehran and moved to the U.S. soon after the Islamic Revolution of 1979, when Iran was no longer safe for Jews. He was a successful entrepreneur and businessman with a deep commitment to giving back. He and Soraya established the Younes & Soraya Nazarian Family Foundation in the United States and the Ima Foundation in Israel to promote education as a means to bridge socioeconomic gaps.
Younes is survived by his wife of 61 years, Soraya Sarah Nazarian; children David Nazarian, Shula Nazarian, former Crossroads trustee Sharon Nazarian P’12, P’16, P’21 and Sam Nazarian; daughters-in-law Angella and Emina; sons-in-law Fernando and Matt; grandchildren Ariel, Aaron, Phillip, Elan, Sarah ’12, Eli, Layla ’16, Adam ’21, Ella, Mia and Sha; and great-grandson Lev.