Director - Julie Fruhauf  (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Technical Office Specialist - Devin Suer  (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Community Outreach Coordinator - Kimarie Funschelle  (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

The Federation officers include: President,Vice President, Secretary,  and Treasurer.

The Board includes members from the community at large, who serve for a term of three years. In addition, the presidents of the other local Jewish organizations, the Rabbis, all MKJF past presidents and the director of the religious school serve as ex officio members of the board, with voice and vote.

Meetings of the board are held at least five times a year.

For more information about the governance of the MKJF, contact the office.

MKJF Board of Directors 2019-2020


President              Les Padzensky

Vice President     Peter Grant

Secretary             Cynthia Ponder

Treasurer            Ed Anger

Immediate Past President    Seth Merrell

Stephen Zacker

Joe Massimini

Doris Weller

Royce Wolff

David Eichhorn

David Fergusen

Howard Jacobs

Lisa Klaskin

Ex-Officio Board Members with voice and vote:

Past Presidents of the Federation

President & Rabbi of Congregation Emanu-El

President & Rabbi of Hebrew Congregation

Rabbi of Wichita Chabad 

President of Hadassah

Director, Joan S. Beren Jewish Community School

Jews have been part of the Wichita story from its earliest days, going back to the days of Leopold Hays, who settled in Wichita in 1869 as a trader in buffalo hides and later as the owner of a livery and saddle business. In the tradition of Jewish merchants worldwide, he welcomed strangers and cleared his counters each night so they could be used as beds for cowboys.

Most of the original Jewish families were of German and Austrian origin, arriving with the great cattle boom between 1860 and 1880. Among them were Sol and Morris Kohn, who helped recruit the railroad and cattle industry to the area. Sol was a signer of the town charter in 1868 and in 1879 became the first—but not the last—Jewish mayor of Wichita. In the late 1870’s, Wichita’s most important downtown hub was at the intersection of Douglas and Main. Three of the four businesses on that intersection had Jewish owners. Holy Emanu-El (later re-named Congregation Emanu-El) organized in 1885 as a Reform congregation, largely to serve the spiritual needs of the area’s roughly 30 Jewish families.

In the turn of the century, Wichita witnessed the arrival of a new Jewish population from Eastern Europe, with families often connected to the region’s developing oil industry as well as scrap metal. With the arrival of these Jews fleeing the pogroms of Russia and Poland, an Orthodox synagogue, Ahavat Achim Hebrew Congregation, formed in 1907.

In the early twentieth century, Wichita’s Jewish community connected to a network of Jewish families in places such as Hutchinson, which for a while had its own synagogue, El Dorado and other, smaller communities. Both congregations had grown enough to allow for the construction of two synagogues, that of Hebrew Congregation in 1930 and of Congregation Emanu-El in 1932. According to the federal census of religious bodies, in 1936, there were 5,260 members of Jewish congregations in Kansas and 8 temples and synagogues. By contrast, Southern Baptists numbered 933 with 6 churches. As the community continued to grow, Jewish merchant families operated stores along Douglas Avenue while others operated scrap yards on the city’s northern edge. The Levand family took over the Wichita Beacon newspaper, making a visible presence in the face of a strong and vocal local Ku Klux Klan.

World War II changed Wichita and with it the Jewish community there. New families arrived from across the country, even across the world, to take advantage of new opportunities. In addition, many families faced the horror of relatives who perished in the Holocaust.

During the postwar years, Wichita’s Jews saw new levels of prosperity as businesses flourished and young families joined the ranks of the professions. As the 1950s transitioned into the 1960s, Jews became active in local Civil Rights activities.

In the late 1980’s, a number of families from the former Soviet Union added to the diversity of a population that continues to develop and change with the city. In more recent years, the Jewish community of Wichita has been undergoing considerable transformation. Major figures have aged and passed on while their children sought new opportunities elsewhere. Meanwhile, new professionals, especially doctors and academics, have arrived.

Throughout, the Mid-Kansas Jewish Federation (founded in 1935) and Jewish community remained, and remains a community partner in interfaith, cultural, and social justice issues in the community as a whole.









The Mid-Kansas Jewish Federation builds, strengthens and preserves Jewish identity within our local community, in Israel and around the world through tzedekah, (the act of charitable giving to create a more just and righteous world), education and cultural events.

 The MKJF works together with a network of partners, here at home and across the globe, to repair the world and put our values of compassion, generosity and responsibility into action.

We are all Federation. Together, we are a community of Jews helping others in the age-old traditions of chesed, rachmanut, and tzedakah kindness, mercy, and righteousness. Each one of us gives of ourselves because we can do no less; because as Jews, it is incumbent upon us to share our resources with those less fortunate; and because the Talmud tells us that kol Yisrael areivim zeh bazeh all Jews are responsible for one another. This simple connection is central to the essence of Judaism. It has enabled us to plant the seeds of a community and to harvest hundreds of ways to ease the lives of those in need. It is the key to a Jewish future.