Anti-Semitism Often Fuels Works of Kansas City’s Jewish Federation

The Kansas City-area Jewish community faced a late-April tragedy with an intolerance-based shooting spree that killed three people on the campus that houses the Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom, an assisted-living facility. No stranger to such tragic attitudes, the theme of facing anti-Semitism is one that dates back to almost the beginning of the 80-plus-year-old organization where a gunman acted on his hatred of Jews.

Originally founded as a fundraising organization to offer assistance to Jews living in the Kansas City area during the country’s Great Depression, brewing storm clouds of war saw The Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City quickly step up to help Jewish immigrants escape their life-threatening situations of the World War II-era and to resettle in the Midwest. Just a few years later—from the 1970’s through the 1990’s—100,000 Soviet Jews were on the move. Again, the Jewish Federation of the greater Kansas City acted as a resource to more than 1,000 resettled immigrants. The federation’s help came in the form of partnerships with local agencies to help immigrants with everything from furnished apartments and job assistance to Jewish educational opportunities for the whole family.

Frazier Glenn Miller Jr., 73, is a known racist and anti-Semite in the area with a personal history that includes the title of Grand Dragon with the Ku Klux Klan. Police quickly captured Miller after the shooting spree began and he remains the primary suspect in the crime.

Victims of the shooting include Terri LaManno. She had made her regular weekly visit to see her mother at the assisted living center. Reat Griffin Underwood, 14, and his grandfather, William Lewis Corporon, 69, were the other two victims. They were at the Jewish Community Center for a singing contest audition. None of the victims were Jewish.