Students Need To Understand The Following:

The Holocaust was no accident. It occurred because people made deliberate choices employing all of the apparatus in a fascist state to engage in the mass murder of 6,000,000 Jews. The Nazis murdered millions of non-Jews too, including political dissidents, intellectuals, LGBTQA+, labor union leaders, disabled persons, Roma, and civilians in every country the German military conquered.

Prejudice, bigotry, and racism are social poisons that erode the fabric of a democratic society.

Silence, apathy, and indifference are the enemies of a pluralistic democracy.

Staff And Leadership

Abby Gilbert

Abby Gilbert

Director, Institutional Advancement

Lise Marlowe

Lise Marlowe

Program and Outreach Director

Fabulous Flores

Fabulous Flores

Education Director

Joe Chudzinski

Joe Chudzinski

Donor Services Coordinator

Rycki Freedman

Rycki Joy Freedman

Program Assistant

Donald Wittenberg

Donald Wittenberg


Executive Board Directors

Yaakov and Sheila Riz*


Chuck Feldman


Donald Wittenberg

Vice President, Education

Paula Weiss, Esq.


Aaron Finestone


Iona Riz, Esq.


Board Members

  • Connie Berman
  • Ronnie Breslow
  • Jacqueline Cherepinsky-Schmidt
  • Dr. Adam Denish
  • Rhonda Fink-Whitman
  • Shari Glauser
  • David Hardy
  • Jody Kessel
  • Marc Lieberson
  • Alberta O’Brien
  • Debbie Rosenberg
  • Daniel Schwarz, Ph.D.
  • Lori Shaffron
  • Steven Shotz
  • Dina Lichtman Smith, Ph.D.
  • Jack Weiss

* Of Blessed Memory

Our Goals

Using the resources of the museum, our mission is to educate students and adults in the Philadelphia area and throughout the world, personalizing the Holocaust so that they learn the consequences of racism, ethnic cleansing, and intolerance. The Holocaust was a watershed event, not only in the 20th century but in the entire history of humanity. We believe that studying and discussing the Holocaust provides one of the most effective ways to work with students to examine basic moral issues and value systems. What lessons have we learned from the Holocaust, and how can we apply them today?

Museum History

The Jewish Identity Center’s Holocaust Awareness Museum and Education Center, America’s first Holocaust museum, is 60 years young. Yaakov Riz, the museum’s founder, was a Holocaust survivor who lost 83 members of his family in Adolf Hitler’s concentration camps. Riz vowed that if he survived he would dedicate his life to establishing a museum that would memorialize the millions of Jews and non-Jews who perished at the hands of the Nazis. Riz’s dream, courage, and commitment have inspired the museum’s genesis, growth, and struggle against intolerance.

Riz founded the museum in the basement of his home in Northeast Philadelphia. Since then it has operated in Melrose Park, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and KleinLife in Northeast Philadelphia. In August 2020, the museum found a new and larger home at Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel in Elkins Park.


The museum’s educational and community outreach is ecumenical and comprises a population that ranges from school-aged children to older adults. Many students come from disadvantaged homes and some are from Syria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Serbia which are countries in conflict. Additionally, we provide teacher training opportunities.

The museum has educated hundreds of thousands of students and adults in schools, community groups, and organizations since its inception. During the 2019-2020 school year, our educational programs reached 23,750 students and adults in 175 schools, organizations, and businesses. Our programs emphasize the message that racial, ethnic, and religious hatred are social poisons that weaken American democracy.

Our programs primarily take place in public, archdiocesan, and private schools though we certainly welcome home-schooled students and their parents. We have also presented at federal installations and universities throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.

Support our Museum

We can’t accomplish our programs without the support of people like you. The Holocaust Awareness Museum and Education Center is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization. Grants, including the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, support our work. Additional support comes from individuals and schools. Please support our Holocaust Education Programs and our vital mission. Donations in any amount are gratefully accepted. Please inquire regarding recommended donations for particular programs.