Annual Review of Programs

Click here to read The Olga Lengyel Institute 2020 Annual Review of Programs

Overview of TOLI Programs, 2020

2020 brought unprecedented challenges to educators and, therefore, to TOLI. Teachers across the United States and Europe were asked to rethink their teaching and to find innovative ways to engage their students. Similarly, professional development organizations such as ours needed to find new and innovative ways to meet the needs of teachers.

TOLI’s Board of Directors and faculty are proud of our efforts to adjust our programming and find creative new methods of working with our participants. While teachers new to TOLI met exclusively through online seminars, this format allowed us to bring people together in many new digital environments. We are pleased to share our work with you here.

TOLI Programs in the U.S. – highlights

The pandemic led to unprecedented challenges for teachers and students. At TOLI we have done our utmost to respond by supporting teachers as they seek innovative ways to teach about the Holocaust and to further their own professional development during this time. To do this, TOLI U.S. leaders Sondra Perl, Jennifer Lemberg, and Wendy Warren created new programs that offered opportunities for learning as well as for community-building. We also found creative ways to offer online versions of our seminars that would be meaningful and engaging. Throughout, we worked closely with the leaders of our satellite seminars to offer guidance and insight as they worked to adapt their seminar plans.

Virtual Programs Offered to the Entire TOLI Network

To strengthen our network and to ensure that TOLI continued to be a source of inspiration and sustenance to the teachers in our programs, we launched a new series of online programs. These events were made available to everyone in our teacher network and have drawn strong attendance from members of every cohort that has been to NYC along with many teachers from the satellite seminars. They offered new opportunities for teachers to gather and learn together with their colleagues, contributing to a sense of cohesion and connection. Events have featured talks by Holocaust survivors, scholars and experts as well as film screenings and presentations on innovative resources for teachers.

TOLI Virtual Workshops

This new program features 45-minute video workshops created by TOLI satellite leaders that focus on and showcase one aspect of the work they do in their satellites. The videos can be used by Holocaust educators and other visitors to TOLI’s website as well as by other satellite leaders in their 2021 satellite programs. Visit this page to access these and other videos.

Professional Development for Satellite Leaders

Responding to our understanding that leaders of the satellite programs look to TOLI for ongoing professional development, we offered two new programs in 2020; the first was a virtual reunion where they could gather together to share stories about teaching during the pandemic and discuss plans for their satellite seminars. The other was a book study with weekly meetings in July that focused on contemporary social justice questions inspired by protests that took place in the U.S. this summer.

The New York City Seminar

In order to continue the work of the seminar in NYC, starting in September (following online introductions and book discussions held in the spring and summer of 2020) we held monthly meetings with accepted participants from the 2020 cohort. Led by Sondra Perl and Jennifer Lemberg along with our colleague Alice Braziller, these sessions will continue through May of 2021 and offer participants a way to learn from each other about their best practices in Holocaust education. As part of their presentations, participants upload associated documents and curriculum materials to a Google classroom created for this purpose. In addition to the meetings, we have held several virtual social events aimed at building community and cohesion among this group.

The Satellite Seminars

In addition to offering virtual programs in the summer of 2020, a number of TOLI satellites have continued their work into the school year. Others have taken creative approaches to keeping accepted participants engaged until launching more officially in the summer of 2021.  The flexibility and variety demonstrated by the work of the satellite seminars during the pandemic (and at a time of great political and social uncertainty) helps to showcase some of TOLI’s best attributes: recognizing the needs of teachers, collaborating well with other institutions, and developing new approaches appropriate to the demands of teaching a difficult subject. Further details are available in our annual review of programs.

Satellite Seminars Scheduled for 2021

Currently we have fourteen satellite seminars scheduled for the summer of 2021. We are keeping a close watch on current conditions and each site is planning accordingly for the possibilities of in-person or virtual learning. We recently updated our satellite seminar website page in order to make it easier for potential applicants to search and review all seminar options. Please visit this page for more information about the satellite programs.


Due to the pandemic, all scheduled mini-grant projects in the United States were put on hold. We look forward to resuming these programs as soon as possible and to thinking creatively about other opportunities for grant-funded projects.

TOLI Programs in Europe – highlights


 Portugal – The second seminar offered by TOLI to teachers in Portugal took place in Porto on February 23–26, 2020 and was organized in partnership with Memoshoà and the Jewish Community of Porto/Israelite Community of Porto. In addition to interactions with survivors, small-group work with their fellow participants, and lectures from internationally renowned speakers, participants also had the opportunity to work together to develop creative projects that would allow them to put into practice the knowledge they gained during the seminar.

Poland – An 8-week online seminar for 40 Polish teachers took place in September–October 2020 and focused on teaching about the Holocaust and human rights through art. This seminar, the third TOLI seminar for Polish teachers, was organized by The Olga Lengyel Institute (TOLI) in partnership with POLIN – Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Yad Vashem, and Big Picture Association. Participants explored the history of the Holocaust through painting, photography, literature, comics, and graphic art.

Romania and Republic of Moldova – A 10-week online seminar for 37 teachers from Romania and Republic of Moldova took place in October-December 2020. The online format offered the opportunity to bring together teachers from the two countries who speak the same language and share an intertwined history. Over the course of the seminar, participants attended lectures by and engaged in group discussion with survivors, professors, researchers, and other Holocaust educators.

Lithuania – An 8-week online seminar for 38 Lithuanian teachers took place in October–November 2020. The seminar offered a balanced approach between cognitive and emotional elements, information about the horrors of the Holocaust and information about the life of Jewish people before and after the Holocaust, and reflection and action.

Ukraine – An intensive 4-week online seminar for 30 Ukrainian teachers took place in October–November 2020. Teachers had the opportunity to learn from an international team of lecturers and trainers, listen to survivor testimony, and think creatively and collaboratively about how to teach the Holocaust and human rights.

Transnational Seminar – An 11-week online seminar for 40 teachers from 15 European countries (Austria, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Italy, Lithuania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Spain, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Ukraine) took place in September–December 2020. This was TOLI’s first transnational seminar for European teachers. Experts from 7 countries were invited as guest speakers, including Holocaust survivor Assia Raberman, Harvard instructor and director of the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights’ Roma Program Magda Matache, and Romanian Ambassador to Israel Radu Ioanid (former Director of the International Archives at the USHMM). In one of the more memorable activities, participants provided a description of the history of the Jewish community in their town/region. This resulted in a beautiful collection of presentations, with texts, photos, and personal stories related to these communities.


Besides the seminars, this year we launched a pilot program for TOLI alumni. Based on a survey aimed to identify the professional development needs of Romanian teachers, who represent the largest group of TOLI alumni in Europe so far (8 seminars have been organized in Romania until now), we organized three webinars, giving teachers the opportunity to work together, share their teaching practices, discuss adaptations to online teaching, and find various ways to collaborate. This program will continue on a yearly basis, with regular online meetings between TOLI alumni. In 2021 the program will be extended to Bulgaria as well.

Seminars Planned for 2021

In 2021, seminars will be held in Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Italy, Lithuania, Ukraine, and Spain. There will also be an international conference hosted in Poland.


Over 100 mini-grant projects were approved in Europe. Teachers did an amazing job adapting their projects to an online environment while finding ways to keep their students interested in this subject until it will be possible to meet in-person and visit the sites they were unable to visit virtually.




For more information about The Olga Lengyel Institute for Holocaust Studies and Human Rights (TOLI), please contact

TOLI is located at 58 East 79th Street in Manhattan. (get directions)