TOLI provides professional development seminars for educators in the US and abroad that link the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides to current world events, thereby working with teachers to promote a human rights and social justice agenda in their classrooms. 
The Olga Lengyel Institute for Holocaust Studies and Human Rights
Programs Shift Online for the
Remainder of 2020
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, and to ensure the safety of teachers and other participants, TOLI has shifted all US seminars online for the remainder of 2020. This includes the national New York Summer Seminar as well as the satellite seminars that had been planned around the country. We have also changed our European seminars to an online format. 

TOLI has pivoted to a broad offering of online events – professional development programs for teachers, presentations by Holocaust experts and survivors, and Zoom events – to connect with educators in TOLI cohorts to provide insight on how they can teach the Holocaust, despite the limitations of the pandemic. 
National Seminar In NYC Becomes a Year of Virtual Activities For Teachers
While the health crisis prevented 27 teachers from attending the national seminar in New York in June, the participants have enthusiastically embarked on a yearlong journey together reading, writing, and sharing classroom lessons via TOLI’s website and over Zoom. In June and July, participants introduced themselves online and read and responded to TOLI Senior Program Director Sondra Perl’s book, On Austrian Soil: Teaching Those I Was Taught to Hate. Many made connections to today and the rise of antisemitism and hate speech in the US. Beginning on August 3, the teachers began their study of curriculum and best practices.
Mississippi Program Focuses on
Normally the Mississippi satellite seminar, a five-day program in June, takes place in Jackson for regional educators. This year it became a national project, bringing together 16 participants from New York, Massachusetts, Texas, Alabama, and of course, Mississippi. Led by Tracei Willis and TOLI Satellite Program Coordinator Wendy Zagray Warren, this program turned into a weeklong reading group, focusing on antiracism. The book selected was Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

Set against the backdrop of national protests for Black Lives Matter and other antiracism activities, the participants became very engaged in the project, setting up a Google classroom for safe and candid discussions. Teachers came away with ideas and pedagogy to apply in their own schools. A collective decision was made that the group should reconvene in August to read Ibram X. Kendi’s How to be an Antiracist and extend our learning in community.
“I feel more hopeful as an individual because there is strength in numbers. There is difficulty in often feeling like you are "going it" alone, but I felt an affinity space from this group which has inspired me to be more vocal in my opposition to
white supremacy and racism.” 
Charlsie Wigley, Alabama educator  
Northern California Online Seminar
Crossing Lines: Tools for Teaching Tough Topics
The TOLI Northern California Seminar, led by Pam Bodnar and Gail Desler, became the first online program for TOLI as a result of the pandemic. Gail, who has served as her district’s Technology Coach, was able to quickly adapt the program to online modules, which were spread out from May 28 - July 13. Program highlights included: Talks by Holocaust survivors and children of survivors, a presentation on the Rwandan genocide and the Secret War in Laos, and discussions about the Hmong-American community, Japanese internment, refugees and immigration. Sixteen educators participated, with teachers from Idaho, Delaware, New Jersey, and North Carolina joining their California colleagues. While the in-person program was much missed, the online program presented an opportunity to reach a wider group to focus on the Holocaust, other genocides, and the issues of social justice today.
Featured Teacher:
Bettina Pope, Wake Forest, NC
Creating "Change Agents" Through Holocaust Education
Bettina Pope, a teacher in Wake Forest, NC and TOLI alumna, sees the impact her teaching the Holocaust has in today’s antiracism movement.

“In Holocaust education, we talk about the role of the bystander. What I am seeing with the Black Lives Matter movement is that more and more people are refusing to be bystanders. History, specifically the Holocaust, has taught us what happens when good people stand by and do nothing. This generation is the first to have had the benefit of more comprehensive Holocaust education, and I believe that they are putting what they have learned into action. They refuse to be bystanders!”
New Mexico Seminar
Action In A Time Of Crisis
New Mexico shifted to a three-day online program this year, from July 14-16, on the theme: “In time of crisis, what does it take to move from knowledge to action?” Led by Leslie Lawner, Susan Quintana, Michelle Thompson-Lloyd, and Barb Lazar, the program drew from film, insights from Holocaust experts, and intensive discussions to try to answer that question. Speakers included Sheryl Ochayon of Yad Vashem discussing the Ringelblum archive, and survivor Gita Cycowicz, who shared her Holocaust story and her later experience as a psychologist who worked with other survivors in Israel.
 “…these are the types of experiences that resonate with kids. Textbooks, scopes/ sequences and tests don't do it. I am so sold on impact teaching. Experiences have got to be resurrected in the classroom even if it is by video and now even Zoom.” 
Ty Friend, New Mexico
Live Conversation With "Defiant Requiem," The Story of Terezin Concentration Camp Orchestra
On July 14 nearly 100 teachers from across the US, as well as some from Europe, joined via Zoom for a live conversation with Maestro Murry Sidlin, founder and Creative Director of the Defiant Requiem Foundation. The program also included a walkthrough of new curriculum materials led by scholar and author Alexandra Zapruder, who serves as Education Director for the Foundation. TOLI provided registered participants with a link in advance enabling them to watch the film Defiant Requiem, which tells the story of musician Rafael Schächter, who, while imprisoned at Theresienstadt (Terezín) concentration camp, gathered 150 of his fellow prisoners for practice sessions of Verdi's Requiem, after they had worked for hours all day and were living under constant fear of deportation to Auschwitz. These sessions culminated in a live performance of the Requiem for the International Red Cross, a stunning artistic achievement despite being used by Nazi officials as a showcase to deflect any criticism of the camp. At the conclusion of the evening, Maestro Sidlin gave an impassioned plea for the importance of the arts and humanities in our lives, especially in times of crisis.
TOLI Receives European Commission Grant For Multi-Year Project
TOLI received a major grant from the European Commission to conduct a multi-year program for teachers, entitled "Intolerance Has No Place in the 21st Century." Under the auspices of the Europe for Citizens Program, national seminars will take place in Italy, Romania, Poland and Serbia in 2021. TOLI teachers will also attend an international conference in Romania in 2022. An innovative methodology will be piloted for collaborative projects between schools from two or more countries. At the end of the project, an online publication will present the students’ works and offer guidelines for organizing collaborative projects between schools in different countries. This program adds Serbia to the list of several countries where TOLI conducts seminars for teachers on the Holocaust and human rights. TOLI partner organizations involved in this program are: CDEC Foundation, Italy; Intercultural Institute of Timisoara, Romania; Big Picture Association, Poland; and Terraforming, Serbia. The program will be coordinated by Oana Nestian-Sandu, Director of TOLI's International Programs.
TOLI relies on the support of individual funders in order to continue providing Holocaust education to teachers around the country and around the world. Please consider supporting one of our 25 programs with a gift to TOLI. One of the most meaningful ways of honoring a loved one is to name one of our programs for them.

Also, please keep TOLI in mind regarding your charitable gift planning. We can work with your financial planner to create gifts of securities, life insurance, and real estate, as well as legacy gifts as you establish your will, trust, and beneficiary designations. The latter can be quite meaningful to families who have lost a loved one.

Remember that all donations are fully tax-deductible in the United States. You can make these arrangements by going online to or by contacting us at 212-249-5384 or at

Please support TOLI programs, enabling thousands of teachers in the US and Europe to educate their students about the Holocaust and against hate and intolerance.
Did You Know You Can Donate to TOLI Through Donor-Advised Funds?
A donor-advised fund (DAF) is a type of giving program that allows you to combine the most favorable tax benefits with the flexibility to support your favorite charities. DAF Direct enables you to recommend grants to The Olga Lengyel Institute for Holocaust Studies and Human Rights (TOLI).