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Tolerance Week, one of the most important weeks on the local calendar and a week unique in Iowa, is under way.

Highlights of a full schedule of activities include several performances, featuring students, at the Orpheum Theatre of "I Am a Star: The Songs and Poems of Inge Auerbacher."

Auerbacher, a Holocaust survivor, will participate in all but one of the performances, including a performance at 7:30 p.m. tonight for which Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds will be in attendance.

All Tolerance Week events are free, open to the public and presented in partnership with Humanities Iowa and the National Endowment for the Humanities. (For more information, visit toleranceweek.com.)

Tolerance Week schedule

Longtime Siouxland businessman Jerry Weiner and his wife, Kathy, deserve appreciation and praise for their efforts to open hearts and minds to diversity by beginning the annual Tolerance Week observance in 2005. We are a better, stronger community in a variety of ways for shared Tolerance Week experiences involving speakers, documentaries, music and art. In particular, we commend the enthusiastic involvement of students, who represent our future, in Tolerance Week.

"The main thing is, this Tolerance Week, is to recognize and appreciate other religions, other ethnic backgrounds - get to know somebody who isn't like you," Auerbacher said for a Journal story during her visit to our community for the 2017 Tolerance Week.

The number of hate crimes committed in the United States rose in 2016 for the second consecutive year, the FBI said in November in an annual report. A total of 6,121 hate crime incidents were recorded in 2016, according to the report - an almost 5 percent increase from 2015 and a 10 percent increase from 2014.

That suggests much work remains for our country.

Here in this small piece of America, we can and should do our part to strengthen tolerance by supporting this week's activities and embracing the important message behind them.

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