The Olga Lengyel Institute (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. For further information, please visit .
The Olga Lengyel Institute for Holocaust Studies and Human Rights
TOLI Takes Holocaust Education Programs To Lithuania And Ukraine
With back-to-back seminars in Lithuania and Ukraine, TOLI convened over 60 educators for its professional development program on teaching the Holocaust in two countries where there is little known or taught about the Nazi genocide.
Photo Left: David Field, Chairman of TOLI, at the opening of the Kiev seminar in Ukraine, Dec. 1.
Photo Right: Mark Berez, President of TOLI, speaking at the opening of the Holocaust educators’ seminar in Vilnius, Lithuania Oct. 27. Next to him are Ambassador of Israel Yosef Levy, right, and Mr. Marcus Michelli, Charge’, US Embassy, Lithuania.
Japanese Rescuer Sugihara Remembered in Vilnius
From October 27-31 in Vilnius, Lithuania, TOLI conducted an intensive seminar for teachers in a country where over 240,000 Jews were killed during the Holocaust.

Joining with local partners, the International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania, the Lithuanian Jewish Community, and the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum, TOLI organized a five-day program for some 30 teachers, many of whom had never taught the Holocaust or its lessons.
Lithuania has been marked with controversy over honoring anti-Russian resistance leaders who had previously collaborated with Nazis in the persecution and killing of its Jewish population. The issue was raised by the Israeli ambassador at the opening ceremony, who described the country’s Holocaust history as “an open wound” and called upon Lithuanian leaders to “teach their history honestly.”

A highlight of the program was the participation of Nobuki Sugihara, son of the heroic Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara. During World War II, Sugihara issued thousands of visas to desperate Jews who, as a result, were saved from the Holocaust.
Also participating in the seminar was Assia Raberman, Holocaust survivor from Israel who has been an inspiring speaker at TOLI seminars. Vadim Altskan, from the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, spoke about the Holocaust in the Baltic countries. In the TOLI delegation were Board members David Field, Chairman, Mark Berez, President, Ellen Field, Carole Berez, Arthur Berger, and Harry Wall. Eyal Raviv from Israel, whose grandmother, Sarah Mostysser, is a generous supporter of TOLI, and Toshimi Janiga, educator from Florida, also took part in the seminar. Katarzyna Laziuk, our Seminar Leader from Poland, also presented at the program. Oana Nestian-Sandu, TOLI International Program Director, coordinated the program and led training sessions for the teachers.

The Lithuanian teachers visited the former Jewish quarter, once the hub of religious and cultural activities and known as “The Jerusalem of the North.” They also visited the Paneriai Forest, where they honored some 70,000 Jews who were brutally murdered by Nazis and their Lithuanian collaborators. Teachers also participated in a simulated Shabbat dinner for all the participants.
Photo 1: At the Holocaust Memorial in Paneriai Forest, site of the massacre of 70, 000 Jews. 

Photo 2: Arthur Berger, right, TOLI board member, interviewing Nobuki Sugihara, the son of the Japanese diplomat who issued visas to Lithuanian Jews, saving thousands of lives from the Holocaust. 

Photo 3: Assia Raberman , Holocaust survivor and frequent TOLI presenter, tells her own story. 

Photo 4: The TOLI Team in Vilnius. Standing with Esin and Nobuki Sugihara, the son of the legendary Japanese diplomat who issued thousands of visas to Lithuanian Jews, saving them from the Holocaust. — with Arthur Berger, Oana Nestian-Sandu, Toshimi Janiga, Ellen Field, David Field, Assia Raberman, Fam. Sugihara, Mark Berez, Carole Lustig-Berez, HarryDaniel Wall, Eyal Raviv, and NPO SUGIHARA 杉原 at Jewish Community Center, Vilnius. 
TOLI Holocaust Program in Kiev, Ukraine. Teachers Visit Babi-Yar
Over 30 teachers from throughout Ukraine gathered in Kyiv (Kiev) from November 1-5 for a TOLI seminar on teaching the Holocaust and applying its lessons to today’s world. The seminar was organized in partnership with the Ukrainian Center for Holocaust Studies (UCHS) and the Jewish Community of Ukraine.

“Convening this program in a country where over 1.5 million Jews were killed, and before that was a center of Jewish life, is a testimonial to those who perished,” said David Field, Chairman, and Mark Berez, President, of TOLI, both of whom participated in the program.
In addition to the intensive program of workshops and lectures, including Vadim Altskan of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Arthur Berger, TOLI Board member speaking about anti-Semitism, and Assia Raberman, Holocaust survivor and featured TOLI lecturer, the teachers were afforded the opportunity to learn about the Jewish community on a visit to the landmark Brodsky Choral Synagogue. They also visited Babi-Yar, the nearby ravine where on September 29-30, 1941 nearly 40,000 Jews from Kyiv were brutally murdered by German SS troops. For many of the teachers, this was the first time they had visited Babi-Yar and had the opportunity to learn about the Holocaust in Ukraine.

Oana Nestian-Sandu, TOLI International Program Director, and Anatoly Podolksy and Vitalii Bobrov of UCHS organized a successful program and one that will provide teachers the much-needed resources to teach the Holocaust in their schools in Ukraine. 
Photo 1: Teachers from Ukraine in front of Chorale Synagogue in Kiev.

Photo 2: Anatoly Podolsky, head of Ukraine Center for Holocaust Studies, presenting certificate to a teacher. With him is Assia Raberman.

Photo 3: Arthur Berger, TOLI Board member, saying Kaddish at the memorial for the 34,000 Jews who were massacred by the Nazis at Babi-Yar in Kiev.
In Memory of Steve Ausnit,
TOLI Board Member
The Board of Directors of The Olga Lengyel Institute for Holocaust Studies and Human Rights (TOLI) mourns the loss of Steve Ausnit, 95, one of its founding directors. He passed away on November 8 in New York.
"Steve was truly a great man and one of the major forces behind the growth and success of TOLI,” said David Field, Chairman of the Board of TOLI. “He was passionate about education and human rights.”

Steven Ausnit was a successful businessman and innovator. He is regarded as the developer of the Ziploc bag, which has become a household staple in the US and around the world. 
He was born March 21,1924 in Galați, Romania. His father, Max Ausnit, owned one of the largest steel producing companies in Romania. Known as “The Steel King,” he was falsely convicted of charges brought by a rival and sent to prison and later house arrest from which he escaped. When Romania allied with Nazi Germany during World War II, Max, a Jew, had to flee the country. He returned after the war, only to flee again when Romania fell under Soviet communist influence. He was condemned to death in absentia. 
Steve was sent by his family to the US in 1941, leaving Romania before the Holocaust, which claimed over 270,000 Romanian Jewish lives. He graduated from Harvard in 1945 and joined the U.S. Army where he rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant. He spent a long career in business in the plastics industry as both an executive and an inventor, and is best known for creating the Ziploc bag, with many related inventions around plastic packaging using reclosable fasteners. 

He held over 140 patents, the latest having been filed in 2017.

In his later years, Mr. Ausnit devoted his life to philanthropic causes. He was an active supporter of TOLI until his passing. “It was because of Steve that TOLI brought its programs on Holocaust education for teachers to Europe,” said Mark Berez, President of TOLI. “Steve wanted to do a seminar in Romania for teachers in his native country.” The first seminar for teachers in Europe took place in 2012 in Romania, near Timisoara. It has continued annually with his active participation. Now TOLI has programs in nine European countries.
Steve had endowed scholarships at Harvard for Romanian students, a bursary at Stowe, and with his wife, brother, and sister-in-law, helped found the Liceul Teoretic Harul in Lugoj, Romania, teaching children from kindergarten through high school.

He is survived by his wife Anne, daughters Christine and Suzanne, and three grandchildren. May his memory be a blessing. 
Giving Tuesday is December 3rd
Save the Date!
Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday kicks off the charitable season when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. Many organizations and charities take advantage of GivingTuesday!

Please remember to keep TOLI in your hearts this Giving Tuesday by donating and sharing our message widely on December 3rd.

If you would like to help with TOLI's #GivingTuesday efforts this year, please email Marni Fritz at
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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).
Times of Israel- Lithuania’s Holocaust record is an ‘open wound,’ Israeli envoy says in Vilnius
“'The most patriotic thing you can do is teach history honestly," Levy said at the opening of “Learning from the Past – Acting for the Future,” a five-day seminar for dozens of Lithuanian teachers from across the country. “People have to know what happened here. It’s an open wound."

"The seminar, which is unusual in Lithuania, is part of an educational effort that extends to places where teaching about the Holocaust is complicated by politics, according to the event’s organizers at the New York-based Olga Lengyel Institute for Holocaust Education and Human Rights, or TOLI."