The Olga Lengyel Institute conducted its first annual seminar for teachers in Poland, July 3-8, learning about the Holocaust and drawing upon its lessons to confront contemporary anti-Semitism, racism and abuse of human rights.  The seminar took place at the Museum of the History of Polish Jews (POLIN), a partner in the program, and included visits to the Warsaw Ghetto memorial, Majdanek Concentration Camp site, and meetings with the Chief Rabbi of Poland, Michael Schudrich and Israel ambassador to Poland, Anna Azari.

The program of the seminar was based on our core methodology, the intersectional approach to teaching about the Holocaust and human rights. Using the lens of human rights teachers and students attempted to understand how the Holocaust was possible, how the propaganda functioned and how the rights of Jewish people (and other groups) were taken away one by one. At the same time, using the lens of the Holocaust we highlighted the need to take action today, when human rights are violated or at risk of being violated for members of any group living in our societies.

The teachers worked together in intensive sessions to unpack the meaning of identities, the role of stereotypes and think together about ways to overcome stereotypes and anti-Semitism. They visited the core exhibition at POLIN, as well as the temporary exhibition Estranged: March ’68 and Its Aftermath. A visit to Majdanek Memorial Site offered teachers the opportunity to be physically present in a location built for extermination purposes and to learn about the people who died there and about the people who survived. The visit to the camp was followed by a live testimony of a Holocaust survivor, Assia Raberman, a hidden child in Poland during the war.

Participants also learned about the atrocities carried on by the Nazis and their collaborators in the neighboring countries from historian Radu Ioanid of the US Holocaust Museum and Memorial.

The seminar also focused on present day anti-Semitism, radicalization and racism. It also dealt with rising extremism in Poland and other European countries, with strategies presented by NGOs and museums to educate the public and to offer support to teachers.

The history of the Warsaw ghetto was presented to the participants using an i walk methodology – stopping at various spots to listen to testimonies of Holocaust survivors. The participants were immersed in Jewish tradition as we visited the Nozyk Synagogue where Chief Rabbi of  Poland, Michael Schudrich gave a talk about Jewish traditions and the present day Jewish community in Poland, followed by the Shabbat service and dinner.

In the last day of the seminar teachers worked together to develop creative projects to put the learning they gained into practice with their students. The graduates of the seminar are given the opportunity to apply for a small grant to implement these projects.

Members of the TOLI board and supporters took part in the seminar. They include: David Field, Chairman, Mark Berez, President, and Ellen Field and Carole Lustig, Vice Presidents. Oana Nestian, TOLI European Program Director along with Katarzyna Łaziuk, Polish Seminar Leader created and led the Program.

The seminar took place with the generous support of the Mostysser family and the participation of Eyal Raviv.



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)