Mission Statement and History
Since its establishment in 1979, the Center for Holocaust, Human Rights & Genocide Education (Chhange) at Brookdale Community College has carried out its mission to:
- Educate about the Holocaust, genocide, and human rights
- Promote the elimination of racism, antisemitism, and all forms of prejudice
- Develop creative programs regarding these crucial human issues
Chhange, a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization, provides 50-75 programs each year to over 25,000 students, educators, and community members from varied socio-economic, racial, and ethnic groups within Monmouth County, throughout New Jersey and beyond. We are committed to educate, inspire, and empower individuals to stand up to injustice and become active, involved citizens.
Chhange grew out of a Lunch and Learn series developed by founders Seymour (Sy) Siegler, EdD and Professor Jack Needle in response to a $200 grant proposal offered by Brookdale Community College to its faculty. This initial series featured survivor testimony by local Holocaust survivor Arno Penzias (Nobel Prize Winner) setting the stage for the educational focus of Chhange, teaching the human story behind genocide. With a standing-room-only audience at the series, Norma Klein, Dean of Brookdale Community College Community Development invited Sy and Jack to found the Center for Holocaust Studies under her division at the College. On May 15, 1979, the opening ceremony was held for the first Holocaust studies center in New Jersey.
From the outset, Holocaust, genocide, and human rights issues worldwide were the focus of programs, services and events. Click here for a more in-depth look at Chhange's origins and foundation. To reinforce the depth and breadth of its mission, the name of the center was expanded to the Center for Holocaust, Human Rights & Genocide Education, creating its acronym Chhange. In 2012, Chhange moved to its current location in the Bankier Library building on Brookdale’s Lincroft campus.
Chhange is proud to be a volunteer organization with upwards of 150 volunteers assisting in its activities each year. Many of its first volunteers were Holocaust survivors; Erica Rosenthal served as the first coordinator of volunteers and Ruth Knopp was Chhange’s first librarian. In the earliest days there were as many as 150 Holocaust survivor volunteers visiting classrooms, churches, synagogues, and other organizations sharing their testimony. Hundreds of thousands of students have witnessed Holocaust testimony first-hand by these Master Teachers. Chhange’s Speakers Bureau now also includes survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, the Cambodian Genocide, and other genocides and human rights abuses. Descendants of Armenian Genocide Survivors also are a core volunteer group at Chhange, assisting in Chhange’s A Journey to Life: Armenia Exhibit, creating the Hundred Year Legacy book and in Chhange’s Annual Armenian Genocide Remembrance event, a commemoration observed since 1981.
Chhange has a volunteer board of directors under the current leadership of Howard Dorman. Previous board presidents include Linda Halloran, David Cohen, and Albert Zager.
Sara E. Brown, Ph.D., is Executive Director, Spencer Cronin serves as Program Manager, Gabrielle Higgins serves as Administrative Coordinator.