US and Israel Ambassadors to Greece among notables at Athens program in November, addressed issue of hate crimes in Europe and Pittsburgh synagogue attacks


The second annual TOLI seminar in Greece took place in Athens, Nov.3-7, taking place days after the Pittsburgh synagogue attacks, focused on rising anti-Semitism and violent extremism in the US and Europe.

The seminar featured presentations by the Secretary General for Religious Affairs of the Greek Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs, US Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt and Israel ambassador Irit Ben-Abba.


Over 30 teachers from Greece participated in the professional training program on Holocaust education and human rights.  A Memorandum of Understanding to continue cooperation was signed by TOLI President Mark Berez, Greek Jewish Museum Chairman Samual Matsas, and Mr. Kalantzis of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs.


The first full day of the conference was led by Oana Nestian Sandu, TOLI’s European Program Director, who began by creating a participatory learning space and then invited every teacher to present themselves and their connection to teaching of the Holocaust.


Maria Efthimiou (EKPA) followed with a lecture on Jewish presence in the Greek geographical area throughout the centuries, and then took questions and enabled a discussion of Greek Jewish history.


After lunch, Odette Varon-Vassard lectured specifically on the Holocaust in Greece.   These lectures were followed by TOLI’s Oana who led a workshop on Identity, Stereotypes, prejudices and discrimination.


Day 2 featured a visit to the Jewish Museum of Greece, led by its director, Zanet Battinou.   Radu Ioanid of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM), presented a lecture on Nazi and fascist propaganda and its impact on the Holocaust, and then continued with a lecture the Holocaust in Europe.


The United States Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Ross Pyatt offered a compelling presentation about anti-Semitism in Europe, relating to the murder of innocent Jews at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pa.


Survivor testimony followed and the teachers met and heard from Alexandros Simha, born in 1937, whose family was hidden during the War in various places in Greece, and thus saved.


Eyal Raviv, a guest from Israel, shared the survival stories of his grandparents, Sara and Harry Mostysser, who survived the Holocaust in Poland, built a successful life in the the US, and made Aliyah to Israel.


Oana Nestian Sandu then led a workshop titled: “Upstanders, Bystanders, Collaborators”, challenging teachers to imagine themselves in dire circumstances requiring action.  The teachers then proceeded to an guided tour of Jewish history and artifacts at the Jewish Museum of Greece.


Day 3 highlights include workshops on the use of testimonies and on a human rights-based approach in education.


Teachers split into groups to create action plans and shared their work and ideas for future action.


Day three was complete with evaluation of the training, the awarding of certificates, and Farewell Dinner.



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)