Winter Newsletter

December 2023

Commissioner's Corner

Warmest Holiday Greetings to the friends, supporters and stakeholders of the Tennessee Holocaust Education Commission.

The world we are living in is a dangerous place, as always. Today, however, seems to be more fraught with peril than it has been in recent years.

Some of the issues that drove the Holocaust, including antisemitism, are once again on the rise and Holocaust Education is more important than it ever has been.

The work of the Commission together with the teachers of Tennessee have a solid mandate to continue our mission in the schools, colleges and public forums of Tennessee. We intend to carry out that mandate.

I would like to especially thank Governor Bill Lee, the Legislative Leadership and the Educators of Tennessee for their unwavering support and commitment to the mission of the Tennessee Holocaust Education Commission.

We wish a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year to you all.

-Larry Leibowitz

Commission Chair

Commission Partners with Yahad-In Unum to Host Educator Workshop

On October 20th and 21st, the Tennessee Holocaust Commission partnered with Yahad-In Unum to host twenty-four educators at the Carnegie Hotel in Johnson City for the nationally acclaimed educator workshop, “Holocaust by Bullets.” Led by Yahad team members, Ewa Schaller and Todd Hennessy, the workshop explored the murder of two million Jews on the Eastern Front, and how the genocide related to subsequent genocides and war crimes of the 20th and 21st centuries. Attendees included middle and high school teachers, homeschool educators, community and university professors from across the state. Upon completion of the workshop, educators were awarded 17 professional development hours and a wealth of materials to use in their classrooms.

Tony McAleer Engages Audiences in Athens and Nashville

In November, former neo-Nazi and white supremacist, Tony McAleer, traveled to Tennessee to share the journey of his radical transformation into a compassionate, motivational speaker. Tony shared how he was swept into the neo-Nazi movement, how he escaped the movement, and ultimately established the organization, “The Cure for Hate.” On November 2, Tony shared his message to over 130 college students and community members at Tennessee Wesleyan University in Athens. Students had the opportunity before and after his presentation to meet Tony, and to ask him questions about his life and current work. Three days later, Tony traveled to Nashville and shared his story to over 100 community members at Temple Ohabai Sholom.

2G/3G Training Programs

On July 24, Tennessee Holocaust Commission Education Coordinator, Ken Gluck, and Director Alyssa Trachtman, successfully launched the Commission’s program, “2G/3G Training.” Led by Ken, this program is designed to provide the children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors, liberators and refugees with the skills needed to effectively share their family stories. The Commission partnered with staff from Facing History and the Memphis Jewish Federation. Over 50 community members attended, including commissioners, Josh Lipman and Adam Exelbierd. Additional 2G/3G training are scheduled for January in Knoxville and Nashville.

Upcoming Opportunities

Belz-Lipman Award for Excellence in Holocaust Education: up to $1500 grant for educators to use in their classroom or on furthering their own Holocaust education. This opportunity is sponsored by the Belz and Lipman families of Memphis, TN. Submissions close April 1, 2024.

Belz-Lipman Application

Kimmelman Student Art and Essay Contest: Students read a book or watch videos by Mira Kimmelman, Holocaust Survivor who settled in Oak Ridge, TN. Students then create art or write an essay reflecting on the message of Mira Kimmelman. The contest is sponsored by Mira Kimmelman's sons, Gene and Benno Kimmelman. Submission deadline is April 15, 2024 for Community College and June 1, 2024 for Middle and High School.

2023 Kimmelman Winners included Tennessee students from Cleveland High School, the Memphis School of Excellence, Greeneville Middle School, Jasper Middle School, Signal Mountain Middle School, Robertsville Middle School (Oak Ridge), and three separate Homeschool communities. Congratulations to all our winners and thank you to all who participated!

Kimmelman Contest Application

Teacher Fellowship: Join our group of 60 teacher fellows and receive special access to trainings and resources from the Tennessee Holocaust Commission. Help us share our events and connect to schools in your part of the state to share Holocaust Education. Applications accepted on a rolling basis.

Teacher Fellow Spotlight:

Dennis Cox at Wilson Central High School, (Lebanon, TN) is teaching his first AP Holocaust course. He additionally arranged with the school to bring survivor, Kassi Bateman, to speak with students.

Deborah Puckett at Crockett County High School, (Alamo, TN) brought the American Society for Yad Vashem’s traveling exhibit, “Spots of Light: Women in the Holocaust” to her school and over 320 students and teachers toured the exhibit.

Lynn Heinz and Cindy Monroe of Greenville and Susanne Frensley of Nashville made significant efforts to share Commission events with colleagues, and to attend many of them. We thank them for continuing their professional development by attending both the “Holocaust by Bullets” educator workshop, and Tony McAleer’s speaking engagement.

Teacher Fellow Application

Teacher Fellows, Lynn Heinz and Cindy Monroe, with speaker, Tony McAleer, at TN Wesleyan University.

Teacher Fellow, Dennis Cox with Survivor Kassi Bateman in his classroom at Wilson Central High School

Oral Histories

Over the summer, the Tennessee Holocaust Commission launched a program to capture oral history interviews with experts in the field of Holocaust Studies, survivors, and second-generation speakers. Individuals interviewed by staff historian, Alison Vick, included: Survivors Freida Weinreich and husband Sam Weinreich, (who we sadly lost in September 2023), Commissioner Jack Belz, Commissioner Tom Wood, Dr. Michael Berenbaum, Anna Salton Eisen, Benno Kimmelman, Dr. Marlene Yahalom, and Sheri Rosenblum. An additional interview with Dr. Christopher Browning is scheduled for March. Each interview will have coordinating educational resources for use in the classroom and will be accessible through the Tennessee Holocaust Commission website.

Above: Staff Alyssa Trachtman and Alison Vick with Survivor Sam Weinreich for his Oral History interview

Left: 2nd Gen Benno Kimmelman after being interviewed by Staff Historian, Alison Vick

Below: Commissioner Tom Wood being interviewed by Alison Vick about his experiences as a biographer of Jan Karski.


In October and November, Ken Gluck traveled to 6 schools, reaching over 1,000 students and teachers. Child survivor, Kassi Bateman, accompanied Ken to speak to middle and high school students at Oliver Middle School, Wilson Central High School, and Legacy Middle School. Students additionally had the opportunity to speak directly to Ms. Bateman following her presentations. The Holocaust Commission is especially grateful to our Teacher Fellow, Dennis Cox, at Wilson Central High School for ensuring that his students had the opportunity to hear Ms. Bateman’s story. On November 15, Ken Gluck shared his own father’s story of survival with 250 students and professors at MTSU for Holocaust Education Day. 

Metro Nashville Public Schools invited Ken Gluck and Alison Vick to once again participate in their annual educator in-service day. On August 3, Ken presented for English Language educators while Alison presented for the Social Studies teachers. From this event, the Commission has received increased requests for speakers and exhibits from Nashville area public schools.


The Tennessee Holocaust Commission has several exhibits that are available for short-term loan, expertly curated to create meaningful, educational experiences with the history of the Holocaust and stories of Tennessee survivors, liberators, and witnesses.

This fall the Commission received requests from the community for two of our traveling exhibits. The Nelly Toll exhibit went to Oliver Middle School and John Early Museum Magnet Middle School in Nashville. MTSU displayed the Holocaust Timeline exhibit for their Holocaust Education Day and it was viewed by over 300 students and teachers.


DECEMBER: 1, 2: National Council for the Social Studies Conference (Nashville)

10, 11, 12: Literacy Association of Tennessee Conference (Cool Springs)

JANUARY: 6,7,8,9: AHO Winter Conference (Washington D.C.)

21: 2G/3G Training, Knoxville Jewish Alliance

24: Survivor, Mark Schonwetter Presentation with Vanderbilt University (Nashville)

28: 2G/3G Training, Gordon JCC (Nashville)

FEBRUARY: 25: Educator Professional Development (Chattanooga)

MARCH: 19: Dr. Christopher Browning, Presentation, MTSU (Murfreesboro)

20: Oral History Interview with Dr. Browning

APRIL: 4: Community Presentation, Dr. Dave Snyder Lecture, APSU (Clarksville)

MAY: 5: Memphis Yom HaShoah Speaker Sponsor, Child Survivor, Michael Bornstein;

9: Knoxville Yom HaShoah presentation with Marlene Yahalom and Yad Vashem exhibit, "The Auschwitz Album"

If you are interested in having a speaker or exhibit at your school or community group, please contact us at

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