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Though she lost her sons, her husband, and her parents in the Holocaust, survivor Olga Lengyel insisted in the final chapter of her book Five Chimneys: A Woman Survivor's True Story of Auschwitz
that she still had "faith" in humanity: "If, even in the jungle of Birkenau, all were not necessarily inhuman to their fellow men," Lengyel wrote, "then there is hope indeed. It is that hope which keeps me alive." Lengyel left as her legacy a foundation that would sustain that hope by supporting education aimed at preventing future genocides. In 2005, looking for assistance in realizing Lengyel's vision, members of the board of the Memorial Library
contacted The Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY). There they met Dr. Sondra Perl, Professor of English and Urban Education at The Graduate Center and Lehman College, CUNY.
Dr. Perl was already dedicated to Holocaust education. Her recent book On Austrian Soil: Teaching Those I was Taught to Hate
chronicled her experiences as a Jewish professor in Innsbruck, and she had been teaching Holocaust courses at Lehman College for nearly a decade. As a co-founder and former co-director of the New York City Writing Project, a regional branch of the National Writing Project
(NWP), she believed in the importance of teachers teaching teachers. Her approach corresponded with the board's desire to support Holocaust education on a national scale, and in time the idea for a summer seminar for teachers, "Reading, Writing, and Teaching the Holocaust," was formed.
For 2010, the Holocaust Educators Network remains committed to serving rural teachers and also encourages applications from those in areas of critical need (a lack of local resources for teaching and learning about issues of social justice or by significant issues that contribute to problems of intolerance, prejudice or racism in nearby schools or communities).
To download an application and read more on our current programs, click here.