A TBP Ambassador Shares Her Story

By guest author Nicole Nocon, Journalist and TBP Ambassador in Cottbus, Germany.
When my friend Steven Schindler first asked me if we should bring The Butterfly Project to my daughter’s school in Cottbus, Germany, I would never have dreamt of what this initiative would set in motion. Steven is the son of the Holocaust survivor Max Schindler z” l of blessed memory from San Diego. Max Schindler was born in Cottbus and he was thrown out of the country by the Nazis in 1938. Of the Schindler family, only Max and his brother Alfred survived. Their parents and their sister died in the Holocaust.

(Please visit our Survivors’ Stories page to listen to Max and Rose share their stories.)
I first met Steven Schindler in 2011 when he came to Cottbus to visit places connected to his family’s history. A friend of mine, who had visited Max and Rose Schindler in San Diego, asked me if I would take Steven and his partner Amy Parish around Cottbus. When we had dinner in a restaurant that evening we talked about our families’ histories and we found out that we share the same wish for remembrance and reconciliation. This was the start of our unexpected friendship. Steve returned to Cottbus several times and in 2015 together with his parents and other family members.

When Steven came to Cottbus he always visited Bewegte Grundschule, the primary school my daughter Antonia attended. We found out that it was in this very school building, where Steven’s uncle Alfred had been arrested by the Gestapo in 1938. Steven told the kids the story of his family and a plaque was installed in the lobby of the school to memorialize Alfred Schindler. This is how the idea was born, to bring The Butterfly Project to Cottbus and to Germany for the first time.
For all who participated at the Bewegte Grundschule in December 2018, it was a very intense and a most memorable experience (Read more about this event). The Butterfly Project at Bewegte Grundschule was accompanied by a three-day-educational program.

The Schindler family gathers around Max and Rose (centered) at an event in Cottbus, Germany.
The Schindler family gathers around Max and Rose (centered) at an event in Cottbus, Germany.

The kids saw the film Not The Last Butterfly, they visited sites connected to the Schindler family and “Stolpersteine” for children from Cottbus who perished in the Holocaust. They also looked at pictures painted by boys and girls in the Terezin ghetto and after that tried to put their feelings in letters or short poems. On the second day they met the journalist René Wappler, who decided not to back off for his own safety but to go on facing the Neo-Nazis who tried to scare him away. They discussed the book Terrible Things Eve Bunting’s allegory on the Holocaust. They translated the biography cards of the kids into German to be paired with the ceramic butterflies. The students’ families and friends were invited to paint butterflies, too. Among the guests was Holger Kelch, the Lord-Major of Cottbus.

Nicole and Cheryl embrace in front of the installation at Bewegte Grundschule.

For the students, it was hard to believe, that most of the Germans had looked away or even welcomed it, when their Jewish fellow-citizens were taken away to be killed in the ghettos and concentration camps. This made the kids very sad and angry. But seeing the film, plus the video-messages from Cheryl Rattner Price, Rose Schindler and La Jolla Country Day School (their sister-school through The Butterfly Project) made a difference. They felt that they were not alone with their hope, that something as horrible as the Holocaust must never happen again and that there are many people around the world, who – like the kids of Bewegte Grundschule – want to take action and to stand up for tolerance and peace. That’s the magic of The Butterfly Project. It‘s mission of Remembrance and Hope connects people around the world. They feel: We are not alone. Together we can make this world a better place.
When in January 2019 Bewegte Grundschule’s butterfly-installation was displayed on the front of the historic schoolhouse, we hoped that this would be an example for other schools in Cottbus and that they would join The Butterfly Project, too. What actually happened, was rather a surprise for us. In the days after the event (which was covered by the national news), phone-calls and emails kept coming in at Bewegte Grundschule. Schools and other institutions from all over Germany asked, how they can get involved in The Butterfly Project, too. That was very moving!

I happily stepped in to coordinate The Butterfly Project in Germany. I bought clay and cookie-cutters and started making butterflies at my kitchen-table. Volunteers offered their help and soon with The Butterfly Project’s guidance we could send butterfly-kits including glazes, brushes and biography cards to other schools in Germany so that they could become member schools of The Butterfly Project.

Since the end of January about 20 schools have joined. Ceramic butterflies are being painted all over the country! Many teachers told me that The Butterfly Project is just what they’ve been waiting for: A way to teach their students the lessons of the Holocaust – focusing on empathy and hope.
Encouraged by this feedback, Steven Schindler and I decided to found a new organization called „GenerationE“ that aims to provide German schools with sources of Holocaust-pedagogy and empathy and anti-hate education programs in addition to The Butterfly Project.

Butterflies made by hand by Nicole Nocon.

For us it was a great pleasure and an honor, when some weeks ago, in June 2019, Cheryl Rattner Price, the co-founder of The Butterfly Project visited Cottbus together with TBP Board member and educator Maren Oom Galarpe. It was not only the kids of Bewegte Grundschule that were very excited to meet the woman, who had co-founded this great project. Teachers from all over Germany came to Cottbus to meet Cheryl. Cheryl and Maren helped the students to add more painted ceramic butterflies to the school‘s butterfly installation. Together with the teachers Cheryl and Maren saw Not The Last Butterfly and they discussed current methods of teaching and explored how more the lessons of the Holocaust can be taught today Most of the people who had come to this meeting met for the very first time, but it actually felt like a meeting of friends.

It was a coincidence that Cheryl and Maren arrived in Cottbus on June 18th, Max Schindler‘s 90th birthday. It was a very moving moment when we visited the Stolpersteine in front of the Schindler‘s former home in Cottbus that evening – the place where I had taken Steven Schindler to visit eight years earlier. The three Stolpersteine (brass-plaques) in the pavement in front of the apartment-house memorialize Max Schindler’s parents and his sister Cecilie.

These little brass-plaques and the butterflies on the front of Bewegte Grundschule are visible symbols of remembrance. Cottbus, like many other towns in Germany and all over Europe sees the growth of neo-Nazi-forces. Intolerance and nationalism are preached again by right-winged demagogues and politicians, who seem to have forgotten, that 6 million Jewish and 5 million non- Jewish innocent people were murdered during the Holocaust. But the still growing resonance to The Butterfly Project in Germany proves, that there are many people, who want to remember and who are ready to stand up to prevent history repeating itself.

By guest author Maren Oom Galarpe, TBP Board Member and Director of the Arts at St. Mary’s School

How do we make the Holocaust accessible to students? What’s at stake, for them, for us, for the world? But equally important, what can we learn from working with one another?Sondra Perl

As an arts educator and perpetual student of life, I carry a great deal of continuous wonder and inquiry throughout my days. The questions above from Sondra Perl, author and Senior Program Director at The Olga Lengyel Institute (TOLI), resonated with me throughout my journey to Germany and Poland. They floated through a combination of silent and celebratory moments, continuously reminding me that there is so much to learn from others in the process of becoming a better educator, leader, human.
In June, I traveled as a Board member, conference presenter and ambassador of The Butterfly Project. Cheryl Rattner Price and I met contacts in Cottbus and Berlin, Germany. Then we presented at TOLI’s teacher seminar in partnership with POLIN- the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, in Warsaw, Poland.

I was excited to meet educators and administrators abroad. What ideas would we share? What will it be like with various native languages spoken amongst us? What is working and not working in our efforts to deliver high quality, impactful Holocaust education that provokes students to take positive action? These questions, like Perl’s questions above, swirled through my head. But again, it was Perl’s last question above, that gets to the heart of this recent trip abroad: …what can we learn from working with one another?
It was the people we met and spent time with that made this trip so impactful. If I were to begin to tell you the stories face to face, you’d see me get misty-eyed in the process. We formed beautiful, authentic connections with educators, scholars and community leaders in both countries. For Cheryl, it was sometimes a special face-to-face meeting with a relationship that developed several years over emails and phone calls. Connecting to others abroad, on their turf, to collaborate and co-create them, was an incredibly invigorating feeling. We share a passion for Holocaust and human rights education, and the feeling for me was affirming and activating.

Cottbus, Germany

Nicole Nocon, a resident and journalist in Cottbus, warmly welcomed us upon arrival at the train station on a sunny day in the Eastern region of Germany. There is much to share about Nicole and her passion and dedication to The Butterfly Project! She introduced us to the primary school Bewegte Grundschule, which welcomed The Butterfly Project in January for our Connecting USA and Germany event as a way to build a school-to-school relationship with La Jolla Country Day School (developed and led by Steve Schindler). I was told this school was once named after Adolf Hitler during a period of its history. I reflected on the important work and recent connections made through residents of Cottbus and the Schindler family, now residing in San Diego. These intersecting family stories of past and present.

The butterfly installation grows at Bewegte Grundschule in Cottbus, Germany.

The more I learned about Cottbus, the more I knew that this was the beginning of more to come. The children were very proud of their installations and newly established relationships with La Jolla Country Day School and Steve Schindler. They were also excited to meet Cheryl. They had profound questions to ask her. Before departing, we joined the children, parents and teachers in adding several more butterflies to their installation. We are making history with Bewegte Grundschule as the first school in Germany to participate in The Butterfly Project!

Teachers from other parts of Germany drove to Cottbus to see The Butterfly Project’s film, NOT the Last Butterfly, and have a dialogue about their own personal histories growing up in Germany. We shared stories and dreamed up possibilities of continuing the global movement of The Butterfly Project – one rooted in compassion through arts education. We shared time together in two languages, at the school and on an outdoor picnic at Fürst-Pückler-Park Branitz- all thanks to the coordination and kindness from Nicole Nocon. We will continue to work with Nicole as projects continue in Cottbus.
To help Nicole expand The Butterfly Project in Germany, the visionary team of Berlin-based organization FEZ is taking on the task of creating thousands of butterflies during their summer programming. FEZ Berlin is Europe’s biggest non-profit children’s, youth and family centre, and they will be bringing The Butterfly Project to Berlin schools in the coming year. We want to say a special thank you to this creative team – Michael Raj Kunsmann, Nubia and Verena!

Katarzyna Łaziuk and Oana Nestian Sandu, TOLI Poland Seminar organizers/presenters.

Warsaw

Cheryl and I had the honor of presenting The Butterfly Project to participants of the TOLI Poland seminar in partnership with POLIN – the Museum of the History of Polish Jews.
We were warmly welcomed by Katarzyna Laziuk (Kasia), an Ambassador to POLIN and the national coordinator for TOLI in Poland. She is a leader in her community and an exceptional human being. Cheryl had been in contact with her for quite some time, but this was their first in-person meeting.

When the TOLI seminar began, I was impressed beyond measure with the speakers:

  • Mark Berez, President, TOLI
  • H.E. Anna Azari, Ambassador of Israel to Poland
  • Dan Hastings, U.S. Embassy in Poland
  • Lucja Koch, Head of Education Department (POLIN)
  • 32 teachers in Poland were selected through a competitive application process to participate in this TOLI seminar: Learning from the Past~ Acting for the Future. The aim of this seminar is to “contribute to increasing the quality of education regarding the Holocaust and human rights in Poland. The program provides a rich opportunity to integrate national and international approaches in teaching about these topics and in understanding the contemporary relevance of this important part of modern history.”
Survivor Assia Raberman presents at the TOLI Conference.

A highlight of the seminar was listening to the three-generation survivor testimony from relatives Assia Raberman and relatives, nephew and TOLI President Mark Berez and great-niece Jennifer Rotker. To hear and see the stories connect across generations was something new and special for me. Spending time with this family at the seminar, including Mark’s wife, Carole Lustig-Berez, was so memorable. Listening to their stories and learning more about the work they are now doing through TOLI was powerful and inspiring. Once again, I find myself learning so much by sharing time with others.

Oana Nestian Sandu, Director of European Programs for TOLI, is another person I am extremely grateful to have met. She led a very impactful session on identity and stereotypes. It always feels good when one can walk away from a conference session with so many practical and authentic tools for application. Oana is a scholar and educational leader that I hope to learn more from, and with. TOLI is expanding their programming, and so is The Butterfly Project. We are reaching more people, across generations and geographic regions. Isn’t this wonderful news for humanity?
We are empowering humanity to be “upstanders” rather than bystanders-especially our youth. In Cottbus, students recently saw a swastika on a wall near their school. They answered back by wanting to turn it into a butterfly. Our youth are creating change. They want to make an impact, and they don’t need to wait until they grow up. They are making a difference now, and we must encourage them to keep going and believe in the power of loving kindness- across the globe…now and well into our future. I’m on board; are you?

By guest author Arlene Keeyes, member of The Butterfly Project’s Education Team

This year has seen some new and exciting changes for The Butterfly Project’s Education Team, consisting of Co-Founder and lead teacher, Jan Landau, Arlene Keeyes, Sonia Fox-Ohlbaum, and Judi Gottschalk. First, we have brought in several new speakers, originating from our Speakers Bureau. Next, we have experienced a significant increase classroom and other presentations by the Education Team. Lastly, we were filmed by Ron and Karen Cook of Ron Cook Media.

Speakers Bureau

During this last year a Speakers Bureau was established to bring in other Second-Generation Children of Holocaust survivors to join the Education Team in sharing their family’s personal stories with students in the classroom. This has been a successful addition to our program. We want extend our sincere thanks for a job well done to, Jack Morgenstern, Karen Levenson, Esther Hogue, and Josh Wortman. Their help is much appreciated!

Education Team in the Classroom

It has been a wonderfully productive year! Classroom presentations have increased significantly this past school year, 2018-19. The Ed. Team has gone to thirty-two schools and shared our lessons with one hundred six classes. A total of two hundred ninety-seven kits were used from January through June. An additional 2300 hundred butterflies were painted by La Jolla Country Day School students and staff. Knox Middle School invited us to teach TBP to their entire school! Other groups we made presentations to were: Santee/Lakeside Rotary, American History Theater group, and Congregation Beth Am parents and students. The Education Team partnered in a teacher in-service with the organization Facing History and Ourselves, hosted at Eastlake High School in Chula Vista. Teachers from across all disciplines and high schools in Chula Vista attended, including Chula Vista High School and Hilltop High School, as well as Sweetwater District Office representatives. This training was generously funded by Rose Foundation and more than 1,500 students will be engaged in our programming!

Education Team at Montgomery Middle School

While we presented our personal stories to all 8th grade students at Montgomery Middle School in El Cajon, we were filmed by Ron and Karen Cook of Ron Cook Media. They are employed by various school districts to share the good things happening in their schools. Ron and Karen graciously shared their finished product to promote TBP on Facebook and other media outlets.

Montgomery Middle School – Butterfly Project from East County Style on Vimeo.

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By guest author Daniella Garran, Educator at Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School

I returned from NCSS in November after several days of hearing wonderful presentations from educators across the country, but what struck me most was something in the exhibit hall: The Butterfly Project. As soon as I realized what it was, I knew I had to bring it to my school. I painted my own butterfly and packed it safely in my suitcase. When I arrived at school the following Monday, I walked in to my principal’s office and said, “We are doing this. You can’t say no.”

Students’ First Lessons on the Holocaust

I’m fortunate to teach in a charter school where we are encouraged to teach our passions and interests. I am blessed to be able to sneak a Holocaust unit into my ancient civilizations curriculum with the endorsement and encouragement of my administration. In Massachusetts, students don’t formally learn about the Holocaust until well into high school. However, in my opinion that is entirely too late to learn the lessons of the Shoah. Because I teach middle school and this is students’ first exposure to such a significant historical event, I think it’s important to introduce it with great caution and care. I notify parents a month before we start our study and provide them with lots of resources so that they can feel equipped to answer students’ questions when they get home. I know that the topic resonates with students and their families. Over the years, I’ve received many notes thanking me for introducing the Holocaust to students because parents felt that they didn’t know how to do so at home. I’ve had students discover family histories that had been dormant for many years. One student’s grandmother sent her grandfather’s scrapbook and photo album from when he liberated the camps in Germany. No one in the family had ever expressed interest until my student had. This unit opens the door for meaningful dialogue.

Family Histories Come To Life

This year presented the perfect confluence of events. In response to my annual letter to families, one parent replied, “Just thought you’d want to know that Alex’s great-grandmother is Righteous Among the Nations.” OF COURSE I wanted to know! This student was able to research her and learn more about family history through the project I assign, Memoirs of the Righteous, for which students research an individual who risked his or her life to save others during the Holocaust. And at open house in the fall, one mom approached me and said rather casually, “My father is a survivor if you’d be interested in having him talk to the class.” We began a dialogue which brought us to January 18, 2018.
We arranged for Martin Owens, a survivor whose parents sent him from Austria to England to a boarding school for refugees in 1938, to come speak to the class. I knew that this couldn’t be just a short talk from a guest speaker out of context. After a morning of special programming including virtual tours of the Anne Frank House, writing found poetry, learning about the amazing people of Denmark who miraculously saved 7,200 of their 7,400 Jews, and seeing how Holocaust victims and survivors have been memorialized throughout the world through art, students watched NOT the Last Butterfly to understand the context of the project. Having already viewed Paper Clips as part of our Holocaust unit, students understood where the inspiration for the project came from and were eager to create their own memorial.

Martin with friends
Survivor Martin Owens speaks to students at Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School.

I told students that they have a huge responsibility.

They are the last generation who will coexist with Holocaust survivors. As such, they must commit to carrying on the messages of survivors and the lessons of the Holocaust. As young people, they also have an opportunity. They have a chance to make a difference, like the Righteous Among the Nations did so many years ago. Whether they help one person or 100 people, they will affect change.
I am lucky to have a wonderful class this year who took this to heart and solemnly read the identity cards provided by The Butterfly Project. They were reminded that they are giving those children a voice and they were encouraged to try and capture that child’s essence when they painted their butterfly. Here is what one student had to say:

I got a little girl who only lived until she was 6, so I made a whimsical butterfly. Making that butterfly was so heavy. You were the one who was representing that poor child, no one else would, only me. The story was really touching. I will never forget today. This was a really unique learning experience. I feel super touched to be one of the last generations to hear from a Holocaust survivor.” — Mackenzie Cole, 7th grade

Nick, a student at Cape Cod lighthouse Charter School, shows his painted butterfly to his grandfather, survivor Martin Owens.

In the Jewish faith, 18 (chai) is a lucky number and is synonymous with life. It is not lost on me that today is a double chai (1-18 – 18). In essence, through The Butterfly Project, today we gave life to more than 80 children whose lives were cut short. It is an honor and a privilege.

To learn more about this event, read this special article about the day in the Cape Cod Times.

By Rebeca Besquin, member of The Butterfly Project’s Board of Directors

Every November, Kadimatón, a fundraiser for Kadima (an organization for people with special needs and/or handicapped) takes place at all schools within the Jewish community in Mexico City, to educate thousands of students about disabilities and diversity. Rebeca Besquin has been committed to expanding The Butterfly Project to Mexico for at least 10 years.
In November 2017, The Butterfly Project paired with Kadima to help make an impression on these students by teaching them about the Holocaust; the 1,500,000 children who perished and the dangers of hatred. The impact we made will be reflected throughout future installations of the 6,000 ceramic butterflies painted by Kadima in diverse Mexican institutions.

Kadima also made a generous donation to The Butterfly Project, allowing students to paint a butterfly while giving the same opportunity to those less fortunate. We would like to thank Lily Margolis and Monica Tawill for making this possible.
Here is a video Kadima made of children painting butterflies at Kadimatón 2017:

The following schools and institutions participated in the campaign:

Schools

  • Colegio Atid
  • Colegio Sefaradí
  • Merkaz Montessori
  • Gan Condesa
  • Comunidad Israelita de Guadalajara
  • Colegio Tarbut
  • Gan Montessori
  • Colegio Or Hajayim
  • Colegio CIM ORT
  • Bet Hayeladim
  • Yeshiva Emuna
  • Comunidad Israelita de Monterrey
  • Colegio Maguen David
  • Colegio Yavne
  • Or Sameaj
  • Alegro Montessori
  • Colegio Monte Sinaí
  • Mi Espacio Montessori

Organizations 

  • CRIT de Tlalnepantla
  • CONFE
  • Amigos del Down
  • Galher
  • CAM Huixquilucan
  • DIF Huxquilucan
  • Centro Iluminando y Editras
  • Nutre mis Seuños
  • CAM Naucalpan
  • Moviendo Causas
  • Niños que viven en el Reclusorio de Santa Martha Acatitla con sus mamas

 In our 11 years of existence, we have watched The Butterfly Project evolve into a grassroots-gone-global project as our butterflies have traveled around the world and back. We have witnessed our butterflies flutter to far-away places like Israel, Poland, Mexico, Uruguay, Czech Republic, Latvia, Peru, and of course many, many cities here in the United States.
Occasionally, a community shows so much passion for our mission that it takes our breath away. When that occurs, it’s important to take the time to celebrate their work… not only to honor their efforts and dedication, but also to showcase to other communities just what is possible!
In this article, we are shining the spotlight on the Sabes Jewish Community Center and Hadassah Minneapolis in Minneapolis, and the Levine Jewish Community Center in Charlotte to highlight their incredible work to bring The Butterfly Project to life in their communities.

Sabes Jewish Community Center and Hadassah Minneapolis – Minneapolis, MN

“When first hearing of The Butterfly Project at our Hadassah Chapter board meeting we were immediately taken by the ability to learn from the past and project this knowledge to the future. The important issue was to affect not only the survivors who lost family during the Holocaust but to speak to those who are part of our future, the children. In creating this multi-generational event we have given breath and hope to our ability to overcome the worst and look to a more hopeful future without hate and bigotry. Whenever we can give hope and promote healing to our communities we need to seize the opportunity. Painting one butterfly for each of the 1.5 million children was our answer. Thank you to the initiators of this project, Cheryl Rattner Price and Jan Landau.” – Hadassah Midwest Region

From Robyn Awend, Director of Cultural Arts at Sabes JCC

The Sabes JCC and Hadassah Minneapolis partnered in presenting an outstanding NOT The Last Butterfly film screening event as a part of an international initiative featuring “The Butterfly”, a poem written by a young Pavel Friedmann, at Theresienstadt concentration camp on 4 June 1942. He died in Oswiecim* (Auschwitz) on September 29, 1944.
Over 85 children and adults attended this event. The participants learned about Hadassah Happenings, saw a short film featuring Holocaust education as well as an explanation of the origins of The Butterfly Project. They then had the opportunity to paint ceramic butterflies, each memorializing one of the 1.5 million children killed in the Holocaust. Participants later hung their unique butterflies as part of the exhibit now being displayed in the Tychman Shapiro Art Gallery at the JCC.
This exhibit will be displayed in the gallery until October 26th. Each of these butterflies, a message of remembrance, hope and transformation will eventually be a part of a permanent exhibit somewhere in the Sabes JCC. 

Please click here for more pictures of this exhibit.

Levine Jewish Community Center – Charlotte, NC

Since 2009, Levine JCC’s Margaret & Lou Schwartz Butterfly Garden Holocaust Memorial has invited students from all over North Carolina to their campus to participate in the lessons and art of The Butterfly Project. The students attend workshops to learn about the dangers of hatred and bigotry, and paint butterflies in honor of a child who was killed during the Holocaust. Some students’ butterflies are been included in a permanent installation on the Levine JCC campus. When finished, the sculpture will have 7,500 butterflies.

From the Levine JCC

“The Children’s Holocaust Memorial Sculpture, installed and dedicated in 2011 by artist Paul Rousso, has been covered over the years with the ceramic butterflies that our workshop participants paint, each in memory of a special child who was killed in the Holocaust. In Spring 2017, mosaic artists Patrick Robertson and Marilyn Barrier applied the butterflies to the last two emerging wings of the sculpture. A special thanks to the hands-on leadership of Wilma Asreal, Gwen Orland, Barbara Ziegler, Past Board President Judy August, Executive Directors Phil Berman and Peter Blair and the staff, donors and scores of volunteers in Charlotte for the nearly 8 years of their dedication and hard work from the moment they decided to join The Butterfly Project in 2009.

In October of this year, the Levine JCC brought our documentary film, NOT The Last Butterfly, to their community and screened the film to over 125 people. The film was very well received and everyone who attended very much enjoyed the program.

We are so moved and inspired by the passion and dedication each of these communities has shown in teaching their young people to remember the past, act responsibly in the present, and create a more peaceful future. We are honored they have invited The Butterfly Project to join them in their work to educate their communities and are excited to see what comes next for each of them, and for new communities who choose to follow in their footsteps!
If you would like to bring The Butterfly Project to your community, please email us for more information.

Did you know that The Butterfly Project is spreading its wings even wider and embarking on a new endeavor? We are, and we’re so excited to officially announce it! Called In Our Hands Teacher Training, our brand new ½ day teacher-training program represents a significant step for The Butterfly Project.

Globalizing a local experience

As we highlighted in a previous blog post, our invaluable Education Team brings their professional experience and rich personal stories into local San Diego classrooms, providing students with a once-in-a-lifetime butterfly project experience. In addition to painting butterflies, they teach age-appropriate lessons about the Holocaust (for older students) and bullying (for younger students), and share their parents’ personal stories of survival from concentration camps. We know how transformative these experiences are for these students and we want to ensure that students across the country and around the world can have a similar experience!

IMG_2241
Education Team member Judi Gottschalk introduces The Butterfly Project to teachers at a recent workshop.

That’s where our new In Our Hands Teacher Training workshop comes in!

For over 10 years, The Butterfly Project has supplied “butterfly kits” to schools near and far. These kits include ceramic butterflies and cards that share the story of a child killed in the Holocaust. These butterfly painting experiences are very powerful for students but while we directed teachers to educational resources, we never provided clear lesson plans to accompany the butterfly painting activity.
In early 2017, The Butterfly Project worked with our Education Team and Facing History and Ourselves, a world-renowned Holocaust Education organization, to build comprehensive lesson plans for teachers to use in conjunction with our butterfly painting activity. These lesson plans include stories of survival from Holocaust survivors and second generation family members, allowing students across the country to hear the personal stories they may not otherwise have access to.
The K-5 curriculum was designed in a “staircase” format, in which each year builds on lessons from the previous year and takes kids from learning how to appreciate differences to recognizing bullying to understanding the power of one (click here to see K-5 staircase). The 6-12 curriculum integrates critical Holocaust-related lessons from Facing History and Ourselves with butterfly painting, and includes testimonies from Holocaust survivors (click here to read about 6-12 lesson plans).

IMG_2242
Education Team member Arlene Keeyes teaches about being an upstander.

Cheryl Rattner Price, our Executive Director, is also working with Joe Fab to create an educational version of our documentary film NOT The Last Butterfly as a resource for teachers to use in their classrooms. We expect this resource to be available in early 2018.

Upcoming In Our Hands Teacher-Training Workshops

The Butterfly Project has spent 2017 designing the workshop and attending professional development conferences with both Facing History and Ourselves and Paper Clips’ teacher training workshop, One Clip At A Time in preparation for this new endeavor.
We will continue to pilot our teacher-training program through December 2017 and will officially launch this new product in early 2018. We are hosting our next pilot workshop on August 31 for National City School District. On October 28th we will again be presenting an In Our Hands Teacher-Training Workshop with Facing History.
If you would like to attend or know of an educator that might be interested in attending one of workshops in the San Diego or Los Angeles areas, please email us and let us know.
If you would like to bring In Our Hands Teacher-Training Workshop to your community in 2018, please click here to join our waiting list.
If you are interested in supporting the development of this program in particular in districts with little or no funding, please email Cheryl Rattner Price for more information.

By Christine Tomasello, Director of Operations

In 2017, The Butterfly Project’s wings spread far and wide by participating in Yom HaShoah and Holocaust Remembrance events around the country. Several schools, JCCs, and community organizations from 16 different cities across the US incorporated The Butterfly Project in their Yom HaShoah activities, bringing people together to paint butterflies in honor of the 1.5 million children killed during the Holocaust.

This Year’s Yom HaShoah Events

Valley Outreach Synagogue Center for Jewish Life (Calabasas, CA) hosted a butterfly painting event and film screening of NOT The Last Butterfly that included a Q&A session with our Executive Director, Cheryl Rattner Price. Julie Goren, a congregation member who saw the NOT The Last Butterfly at the Museum of Tolerance screening in 2016, held on to her vision of bringing it to her community for a year.

Julie thought The Butterfly Project was a perfect activity to commemorate Yom HaShoah and knew that the painted butterflies would be a very special addition to their new building. VOS selected The Butterfly Project event to be their very first outside program in their brand new space. Under the direction of Julie and VOS Education Director, Carla Adivi (JEWELS Program Director), VOS congregation members ranging from young children to grandparents painted 360 butterflies that will be used to create a permanent installation at their synagogue. The participation of several local survivors made the event that much more meaningful and special. In their congregation’s newsletter, Carla said that, 

“The Butterfly Project provides a timely opportunity for community members to contribute to the collective memory of so many young lives who never had a chance to take flight due to discrimination and intolerance… We are honored to participate and invite all to paint a butterfly to add to this global installation of remembrance and hope.”

The Butterfly Project was honored to be included in several other significant Yom HaShoah ceremonies as well – each one each one memorable in its own way, and each one bringing us closer to our global goal of 1.5 million butterflies…

  • San Diego Jewish Academy held an event in which students painted butterflies with Holocaust survivors.
Survivor Hanna Marx with students from San Diego Jewish Academy
Survivor Hanna Marx with students from San Diego Jewish Academy
  • The Eisenhower Foundation and Presidential Library, in Abilene, KS, showed the film and painted butterflies in early April. They had full houses both days of their screenings for the public and 8th grade screenings, and the Arts Council of Dickinson County created a unique mural in their downtown storefront.
Butterfly installation at the Eisenhower Foundation & Library
Butterfly installation at the Eisenhower Foundation & Library
  • JCC Manhattan brought The Butterfly Project into their Jewish Journey Project by hosting a film screening and butterfly painting.
  • Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh brought their community together to paint over 400 butterflies that will be part of installations that will be built in multiple locations in their city.
Washington Middle School student painting a butterfly.
Washington Middle School student painting a butterfly
  • Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El in Wynnewood, PA and Congregation Chaverim in Tucson, AZ hosted butterfly painting events for their congregation members.
  • Lori Ripps from B’nai Israel Synagogue paired a special presentation of the play I Never Saw Another Butterfly by the Pensacola High School Theater Troupe 4750 with The Butterfly Project and they painted and displayed butterflies with the audience.
Congregation Chaverim displays their painted butterflies
Congregation Chaverim displays their painted butterflies

The Butterfly Project is honored to be included in these very special ceremonies and events of remembrance, and we deeply appreciate every organization that has brought us into their community. Our film NOT The Last Butterfly is helping us to share more deeply about our history and purpose, all of which is helping increase our impact dramatically with students learning about the 1.5 million children murdered in the Holocaust and empowering them to stand up for a more peaceful world today.