Manhattan College was founded by the De La Salle Christian Brothers in 1853. The College moved from Manhattan to the Riverdale/Kingsbridge area of the Bronx in 1923. In the 1960s, after the Vatican II document “Nostra Aetate,” the New York Diocese and the Anti Defamation League planned to work together to improve Catholic-Jewish relations. The Archbishop requested that Manhattan College prepare for him a 60 page summary about Judaism. A young history professor, Frederick M. Schweitzer, was assigned the task. The 60 pages became a 300 page book, and a professor found his life’s work. Dr. Schweitzer’s study of Judaism, Anti-Semitism, and the Holocaust led to 4 books, numerous articles and lectures, and in 1996 the founding of the Manhattan College Holocaust Resource Center. The Manhattan College Holocaust Resource Center grew out of discussions between concerned faculty and administrators at the College led by Rose Santos-Cunningham, Brother Peter Drake, F. S. C., and Frederick Schweitzer and members of the Riverdale community, most notably Martin Spett, Lou Falkenstein, and the late Martin Richman during the 1995-1996 academic year. The Center's Charter was approved by the President of the College, Brother Thomas Scanlan, F. S. C. in 1996.
Dr. Schweitzer, the first Director of the Holocaust Resource Center, engaged in outreach to the Jewish community, scheduled lectures by Holocaust scholars, and conducted workshops for area teachers. He was later assisted by Dr. Jeff, a history professor, who became Director in 2007 after Dr. Schweitzer retired and became Director Emeritus. Dr. Horn was assisted by two Assistant Directors, Barbara Reynolds, a retired teacher from Fordham Prep, and Martha Frazer, a former interviewer for Stephen Spielberg's Survivors of the Shoah Visual Project.
Dr. Jeff Horn continued the Center's lecture series, brining in world renowned scholars such as Samantha Powers, and Christopher Browning He also created a DVD project in which Manhattan College students, trained by him and by Ms. Frazer, interviewed Holocaust survivors, and then edited the tapes for viewing by high school and middle school students. These DVDs were distributed all over the country. Ms. Reynolds acted as a teacher liaison. She continued workshops to introduce teachers to methods, such as the use of oral history or the use of picture books, for bringing state mandated Holocaust education into local classrooms, and she also arranged exhibits of Holocaust art. Ms. Frazer acted as a liaison to the local community. She also created the Second Generation Project at the Center.
Dr. Mehnaz M. Afridi, assistant professor of Religious Studies, was appointed Director of the Center in 2011. As a Muslim woman she specializes in Islam and the Holocaust. The Center, its mission expanded, is now known as the Holocaust, Genocide and Interfaith Education Center. In addition to events for the campus community, the Center schedules two to three lectures a year, one on the Holocaust, one on Genocide and an interfaith one. Its community outreach includes a speakers bureau, led since 1996 by Martin Spett, and interfaith activities in which College students, local community and New York City members work together.