Florida Atlantic University ceremoniously broke ground on its future Kurt and Marilyn Wallach Holocaust and Jewish Studies Building today at its Boca Raton campus. Thanks to a historic $20 million gift from the Wallachs in November 2020, FAU is an epicenter for intercultural dialogue and education in the greater South Florida region.

The Wallach’s transformational gift includes $10 million to construct what will become a prominent building on campus, designed to serve as the hub for Holocaust and Jewish studies, human rights’ education, and leadership training. It also will memorialize the 6 million Jews and other victims of the Holocaust, honor its survivors, and bring together educational programs that champion social justice, compassion and understanding through enhanced collaborations.

As part of the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the facility also will bring together the College’s other signature programs under one roof, including:

  • Arthur and Emalie Gutterman Family Center for Holocaust and Human Rights Education
  • Raddock Family Eminent Scholar in Holocaust Studies
  • Herbert and Elaine Gimelstob Eminent Scholar in Jewish Studies
  • Holocaust and Jewish Studies programs
  • Center for Peace, Justice and Human Rights
  • Leon Charney Diplomacy Program
  • Barb Schmidt Fellowship: Cultivating Community Involvement, Advocacy and Social Change.

“Our reason for donating this building is twofold,” said Marilyn Wallach. “The first is to honor the memory of the more than 200 members of my husband’s family that were murdered in the Holocaust. The second is the hope that this undertaking will prevent other families from having the same loss that he endured. Our world today is full of hate, and that is the breeding ground for the next Holocaust. Let us hope that our mantra at FAU, ‘Education is Our Best Hope Against Hatred,’ will make a difference!”

The second half of the Wallach’s gift is a $10 million estate donation designated to establish the future Wallach Institute for Holocaust and Jewish Studies with an endowment to fund faculty and staff, visiting scholars, lectures, educational outreach, scholarships and fellowships, study abroad opportunities, research, programming, equipment, capital expenditures or building improvements in these disciplinary areas, and related activities with a mission to deter hate, bias and discrimination.

“We believe education is our best hope against hatred,” said Michael J. Horswell, Ph.D., dean of the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters. “The philanthropy that the Wallach family invested in FAU and the greater South Florida community will ensure that the lessons of the past are relevant today and into perpetuity, providing the resources to teach the importance of understanding history, speaking up, and acting against all forms of bigotry and prejudice.”

Kurt Wallach passed away in September 2021, however, the Wallach building and institute will carry on his legacy and desire to educate the community about the Holocaust and its atrocities, while building on FAU’s traditions of excellence. FAU’s eminent scholar Alan L. Berger, D.Litt., the Raddock Family Eminent Scholar Chair for Holocaust Studies, was the first Holocaust chair established in the Florida, impacting the region for decades with his research and teaching.

The Herbert and Elaine Gimelstob Eminent Scholar in Jewish Studies Chair also enriches the University and community through research, public lectures and international conferences. The Arthur and Emalie Gutterman Family Center for Holocaust and Human Rights Education at FAU has provided K-12 teachers with training for the teaching of the Holocaust for the past 25 years.

“We are honored and grateful for Kurt and Marilyn Wallach’s enormous generosity,” said FAU President John Kelly. “This historic gift will ensure that, through education, we continue to build bridges of understanding and empathy for generations to come.”

FAU’s Peace, Justice and Human Rights Center is a university-wide effort that unites scholars, students, practitioners and community leaders engaged in the themes of social justice, human rights, and peace and nonviolence. Within the center, the Leon Charney Diplomacy Program provides students interested in international affairs opportunities to enhance their diplomatic skills in areas such as speech writing, public speaking, negotiation, dispute resolution and research. The Barb Schmidt Fellowship also offers dual-enrolled high school students a platform to develop the essential life and leadership skills essential for driving social change, while enhancing their self-care and mindfulness.