About Us

What Does Shoah Mean?

Shoah — a Hebrew word connoting catastrophe, calamity, disaster, and destruction. Holocaust was adopted as a translation of Shoah.

What is CHGS

“CHGS” is the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies.

The purpose of CHGS:

The purpose of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies-Muskegon is cultivating values to diffuse hate and encourage diversity. The Center will provide opportunities to the Muskegon Community which result in:

  • Education: The Muskegon Community learns, thinks critically and applies lessons learned from the Holocaust and genocide,
  • Commemoration: The Muskegon Community remembers and reflects upon the victims of the Holocaust and genocide,
  • Perpetuation: The Muskegon Community recognizes the ongoing importance of educating and commemorating beyond the immediacy of the victims of the Holocaust and genocide.

In 1995 our nation and our world marked the 50th Anniversary of the end of the Second World War. But for the world and for people of faith, 1995 marked two other critical events. For Lutheran Christians it was the 50th Anniversary of the martyrdom of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Pastor who worked against the Nazi government and rescued Jews marked for death camps. For Jews and Christians 1995 marked the 50th Anniversary of the liberation of the death camps throughout Europe.

Pastor Chris Anderson of Samuel Lutheran Church, Muskegon, Michigan, extended an invitation to Rabbi Alan Alpert of the Congregation of B’nai Israel to mark these events at a prayer service at Samuel, April 9, 1995.

With the deepening concern that the horrors of the Shoah would be forgotten and would not be passed down to succeeding generations, Rabbi Alpert and Pastor Anderson decided that Shoah Remembrance needed to be held every year.

In 2004 an official name was given to the planning group: Shoah Remembrance Committee of Muskegon (SRCM). In 2013 the name was changed to the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies.

The service has grown from 12 people in 1995 to a high of 275. Area Schools, public and parochial, and musical talent from the community have shared in the services over the years.

With the financial support from the North/West Lower Michigan Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the United Jewish Appeal, Samuel Lutheran Church, Congregation B’nai Israel, and many individuals from the Muskegon community, we hope to continue emphasizing not only commemoration but education on issues of hatred and racism and religious intolerance, and build a greater appreciation for the diversity of life and culture as a gift of God.


  • 1996 held at the temple.
  • 1997 held at Samuel.
  • 1998, a service centering on the survivors.
  • 1999, a service centering on the rescuers.
  • 2000, a service centering on the liberators.
  • 2001, a service with choral works presented by the Camerata Singers: songs based on prose and poetry of the camps; the Holocaust Cantata; the Terezin Requiem.
  • 2002, a service centering on Children of the Holocaust.
  • 2003, the Holocaust and Minorities, Dr. Eric Gritsch, former professor of Reformation Studies at the Lutheran Seminary at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
  • 2004, the Holocaust and the Disabled
  • 2005, the Holocaust and the Arts
  • 2006, the Holocaust and the Media, with Dr. Laura Leff, professor, author.
  • 2007, the Holocaust and Diaries: a special event called “The Journey” will invite 8th grade students to share in a year long pilgrimage to look into issues of racism, bigotry, religious hatred, classism with the Shoah as a the central event. The students will complete the Journey with a field trip to Washington DC to visit the Holocaust Museum, the Inter-faith Center, their representatives and other agencies. Dr. Hank Greenspan, professor and author presenting a one person play.
  • 2008, the Holocaust and Women, with Dr. Elizabeth Baer, Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter MN.
  • 2009, the Holocaust and the camps with guest speaker Ruth Webber, child survivor fo Auschwitz and Dr. Hank Greenspan.