“They feel like they have a connection with him even though they don’t know him.” ~ The McPherson School, KS

Museum History

The Jewish Identity Center's Holocaust Awareness Museum and Education Center, America's first Holocaust museum, is 53 years young. Yaakov Riz, the museum's founder, was a Holocaust survivor who lost 83 members of his family in the Holocaust. 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 Nazi barbarism. Initially, the museum was housed in the basement of Riz's home. The museum's genesis, its growth and its struggle against intolerance are the realization of his dream, his courage and his commitment.

In the five-county area that we serve, the museum's educational and community outreach is ecumenical and comprises a population that ranges from elementary school (grade 5) to senior citizens. Many of the students we work with come from disadvantaged homes. Some of our students are newcomers who have fled countries such as Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Serbia.

During the last 50+ years, tens of thousands of students have visited the museum. We, in turn, have presented thousands of Holocaust programs in schools and to community groups and organizations. Our efforts are designed to emphasize the message that racial, ethnic, and religious hatred are the social poisons that weaken the American democracy.


During the last 53 years, more than 100,000 students and adults have participated in museum programs. Many students and their teachers have visited the museum, and the museum has hosted many adult community groups as well. The staff takes its outreach programs into public, archdiocesan, and private schools. Home-schooled students and their parents have also visited the museum. Our outreach program has also taken us to federal installations, senior citizen retirement communities, nursing homes, and universities in both Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.

Students and teachers have listened to the life experiences of Holocaust survivors, liberators -- American GIs -- who liberated the concentration camps, and resistors. Because many of our speakers are into their 70's, 80's and 90's, we are currently videotaping their stories.

During the 2017/2018 school year, our Educational Programs reached more than 40,000 students and adults in 306 schools, organizations, and businesses.