Irving Roth, 1929-2021- In Memoriam by Sondra Perl, National Program Director, TOLI


Irving Roth, 1929-2021

In Memoriam by Sondra Perl, National Program Director, TOLI

“I don’t believe in miracles; I just depend on them.” 

“Beware the signposts along the road to Auschwitz.” 

“Teachers are the link between the dark history of the Holocaust and future generations. You carry the torch.”

Over the years, hundreds of Holocaust educators heard these words as they sat with Irving Roth at Olga’s table. Irving spent many hours with us at the TOLI Summer Seminar in New York City, starting in 2006 and continuing every year until 2020 when Covid-19 brought our summer seminar to a halt. Irving survived the loss of his home, the agonies of transport in a cattle car, the horrors of Auschwitz, a death march, the loss of his brother, Bondi, and the last weeks of the war as a starving teenager at Buchenwald. Yet he carried a message of hope and spoke often of miraculous experiences during the darkest time of his life: harnessing a horse at Auschwitz, listening to lectures on math during the final days at Buchenwald, and finding his mother at home because a Christian nurse hid her and his father at great risk to herself, finding his mother alive because ‘someone cared.’

It was Irving, however, who was the true miracle. All of us at TOLI will remember him and carry his message in our hearts and into the hearts of our students. 

May his memory be a blessing.


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