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Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies (CHGS)

CHGS Mission

Our mission is to assist students, educators, and the community-at-large in learning the history and lessons of the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide, and other similar tragedies. Through innovative educational programming, we seek to promote an understanding of the pernicious consequences of anti-Semitism, racism, ethnic hatred, other forms of bigotry, and violations of human rights; and forge awareness, change attitudes, and develop new methodologies for the protection of individual liberty and the prevention of genocide.


CHGS Events and Programs


Kwibuka 30
Remembering the 1994 Genocide of Tutsi in Rwanda

April 17, 2024

Thirty years ago, Hutu extremists massacred upwards of one-million Tutsi and Hutu moderates in just over one-hundred days. The horrors of that genocide shocked the world and placed challenging questions before an international community that failed to respond.

The CHGS welcomed survivors Providence Umugwaneza and Eric Nkurunziza to campus, where they spoke to a sizeable audience of students, faculty, and staff. We also arranged for them to speak to students at Mahwah High School, in fulfillment of our responsibility to serve the regional public meaningfully. Ms. Umugwaneza is the author of a moving memoir, , which Ramapo students have read for their classes.

Ramapo students contributed significantly to the commemoration by helping to educate the campus community with an online exhibition. The exhibition’s nineteen panels may be viewed as a website. The page also looks forward to future programming by the CHGS: fully immersive exhibits produced in virtual reality.


Founded in 1980 as an independent non-profit organization to educate and interact with the northern New Jersey and Rockland County communities on the tragedy of Hitler’s war against the Jews and other genocides, the CHGS is now an integral part of Ramapo College. While it receives support from the College, most of the Center’s funding is from private donations. It is a member of the Association of Holocaust Organizations and the Consortium of Higher Education Centers for Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Studies. The CHGS is also part of the network of similar organizations under the New Jersey State Commission on Holocaust Education.

Library and Collections

The RCNJ CHGS maintains a growing collection of books and other materials pertinent to research and teaching in our fields of Holocaust and genocide studies. A complete listing of our resources may accessed . Our stacks are located in front of the Special Collections Reading Room, which houses the Center, on the second floor of the George T. Potter Library. (Additional materials of interest, which do not belong to the Center collection, are available in the general stacks and are shelved according to their call numbers.)


Director: Jacob Ari Labendz, PhD


About the Director

Director: Jacob Ari LabendzJacob Ari Labendz directs the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. He teaches courses in related topics, as well as Jewish studies. He holds a Ph.D. in history from Washington University in St. Louis. Dr. Labendz writes about the history of Jews in and from Central Europe in the twentieth century and contributes to scholarly discussions of nationalism, Cold War governance and politics, contemporary antisemitism, Holocaust memory, and Jewish food cultures. In addition to a number of articles and reviews, he published two edited volumes, Jewish Veganism and Vegetarianism: Studies and New Directions with Shmuly Yanklowitz (SUNY, 2019) and Jewish Property after 1945: Cultures and Economies of Ownership, Loss, Recovery, and Transfer (Routledge, 2017). He is currently collaborating with Rebekah Klein-Pejšová on an edited volume focused on the movement and meetings of Jewish people and artifacts across Cold-War boundaries. Dr. Labendz is passionate about integrating Holocaust and genocide studies into curricula and cocurricular activities across Ramapo College, and to serving the northern New Jersey and southern New York region.

Advisory Board

Peter Safirstein, Esq., Chair
Bella Apgar, Student Representative

Arthur Barchenko, Tamara Berman, Christina Connor, Assessment & Instruction Librarian, Leah Kaufman, Tanya Mayer, Stanley Richmond, Dr. Rebecca Root, Professor of Political Science, Dr. Sharon Rubin, Professor Emerita of Ramapo College, Robert Sek, Linda Sokolski, Colleen Tambuscio, Ani Tchaghlasian, and David Terdiman, Assistant Vice President Institutional Advancement

Ex Officio: Dr. Michael Middleton, Provost; Dr. Susan Hangen, Interim Dean of the School of Humanities and Global Studies

Scholarships Awarded

The Clara and Morton Richmond Scholarship offers support to students either minoring in Human Rights and Genocide Studies or majoring in International Studies. The RCNJ CHGS supports these programs with its events and courses.

Please join us in congratulating the 2023-2024 scholarship winners.

Picture of Maddie Zech by a brick wall overlooking a German city.

Maddie Zech

Hope DeWitt

Amie Lara