The Midwest Center for Holocaust Education teaches the history of the Holocaust, applying its lessons to counter indifference, intolerance, and genocide.
Whom We Serve
We serve people of all faiths and cultures in Kansas, western Missouri and elsewhere in the Midwest. Our programs reach teachers, students (primarily grades seven through college) and civic and community groups.
The Midwest Center for Holocaust Education (MCHE) was founded in 1993 by Holocaust survivors Isak Federman and Jack Mandelbaum. We teach the history of the Holocaust, applying its lessons to counter indifference, intolerance, and genocide. Located at the Jewish Community Campus in Overland Park, MCHE reaches thousands of youths and adults each year through school and community outreach programs, often offered in cooperation with other not-for-profits.
More than 400 individuals are current members of MCHE. An operating endowment totaling over $2 million is prudently invested to ensure the future operations of the organization. Other sources of revenue include annual memberships, grants, tribute donations, and program fees, as well as sales of books and documentary films based on local testimony of eyewitnesses to the Holocaust. We are a 501(c)(3), and donations to MCHE are fully tax-deductible as allowed by law.
At the invitation of the Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City, the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education joined the Federation’s list of partner agencies in June 1996. Within the family of Federation agencies, we are unique in the bridges we build to the non-Jewish community. This priority is reflected in our board of directors, more than one-third of which is not Jewish.
MCHE is a member of the Association of Holocaust Organizations (AHO). Jean Zeldin, MCHE’s Executive Director, serves as treasurer of the AHO board of directors and is an appointed member of the Kansas Holocaust Commission.
Through a study of the Holocaust and the stories of the people who experienced it, the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education seeks to increase compassion and understanding. We teach what can happen within a democratic society when hatred and bigotry go unchallenged. We encourage individual responsibility by showing how the actions of one person can make a difference. We relate the events of the past to contemporary issues of intolerance.
MCHE serves a diverse population, in terms of age, religion, race, economic status, ethnicity, and gender. Programs reach both the Jewish and general community, including students and teachers in public, private, and parochial settings, primarily grades seven and up. We focus on Greater Kansas City, its urban, rural, and suburban areas, serving as a resource for other communities on a case-by-case basis.
Community partnerships reflect the scope of our mission. These have included the Truman Presidential Museum and Library, Science City at Union Station, University of Missouri-Kansas City, Kansas University, Kansas City Art Institute, RLDS World Church Headquarters, Temple B’nai Jehudah, Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center, Guadalupe Center, Kansas City Harmony, Italian Cultural Center, Rockhurst University, Avila University, Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, American Jazz Museum, National Conference for Community and Justice, Lyric Opera, Coterie Theatre, Kansas City Symphony, Missouri Repertory Theatre, Kansas City Public Television, Kansas City Public Library, Wyandotte County Historical Museum, National Archives at Kansas City, and the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department. MCHE’s newsletter was honored in 2002 by the Black Chamber of Commerce with its North Star Beacon of Freedom Award and was the recipient of the Council on Philanthropy’s 2006 Philly Award for best non-profit communication. The MCHE publication “Collective Voices” received a second Philly Award in 2012 in the newly-created Unique Concept category.
Our programs include presentations by children of survivors, an annual White Rose Student Essay Contest, teacher education, including a cadre of professional educators who serve as teacher-trainers and mentors, an academic roundtable of college and university faculty, commemorative programs, as well as special lectures and exhibits. Our resource center houses a witness archive and more than 1,500 titles available for free loan. Traveling resource chests, each containing nearly $2,000 worth of books, videotapes, poster sets, witness testimonies, and teaching activities, are loaned to secondary school classrooms.
MCHE has developed resources to preserve local connections to the Holocaust. Our Witnesses to the Holocaust project resulted in the taping of nearly fifty eyewitness testimonies and production of two award-winning video documentaries. MCHE’s Portrait 2000 exhibit includes fifty black and white photographs with accompanying text based on audio-taped interviews. In 2001, Kansas City Star books published From the Heart: Life Before and After the Holocaust ~ A Mosaic of Memories, based on Portrait 2000.