The lessons from Esther’s art and story are immediate and understandable, nurturing empathy and courage, while her art brings the Holocaust to life in a markedly different way than the black-and-white photos more typical of the period. Drawing from Esther’s art and story, free educational materials offer students a way to comprehend the perseverance of a young girl within the context of historical events, using the Holocaust as the primary content. They are designed for grades 5 – 12. The lessons build essential skills for critical thinking, understanding primary resources, contextualizing current events, appreciating the importance of storytelling, and engaging young people in active participation in their community.
Two types of lessons are provided, along with fillable PDF graphic organizers and reference documents:
Fully standards-aligned traditional lesson plans (PDFs)
Online, interactive, multi-media Sutoris
The lessons address five core themes:
Social Studies and History
English Language Arts
Art Appreciation and Art Integration
Social Justice and Civic Engagement
For inspiration, please view students' works from previous programs
Children Escaping War and Conflict
Students learn to analyze basic human needs, draw similarities between survival stories, and apply their learning to current and contemporary events.
Esther in Her Own Words and Images: Artwork and Testimony as a Primary Source
Teach how to use first person accounts, primary and secondary sources and artifacts while following Esther’s journey and exploring the Holocaust.
World War II in Poland
Enrich student learning about the history of Poland and Jews in Poland before, during and after World War II through the use of timelines.
Upstanders, Bystanders, and Victims
By analyzing the artwork of Esther Nisenthal Krinitz as a primary source, students will learn about World War II and address the moral dimensions of the Holocaust and bullying.
A four-part lesson with extensions teaching how to use evidence-based argument to answer the question: “What makes an unsung hero?”
Jewish Concepts and Values
This lesson will address three Jewish concepts:
Welcoming the Stranger
Peace in the House
Jewish holidays and traditions
Symbolism, Dreams, and Metaphors
Additional Teaching Resources
Guide to the Film Through the Eye of the Needle: The Art of Esther Nisenthal Krinitz
The questions and activities in the guide use the art and story of Esther Krinitz Nisenthal as a springboard to learn more about the Holocaust and World War II and to convey the importance of telling one’s own story.
Worksheets for Students
The Graphic Organizers/Worksheets below can all be found here. They are fillable PDFs on which the students can do their assignments and, when completed, print out or submit digitally.
View or Print these resources:
I have never really used art to teach the Holocaust. This will really help me connect the content to my students more effectively.
Educator at Echoes Workshop, Jewish Museum of Maryland
Bernice Steinhardt, President and ChairpersonUntil her retirement from federal service, Bernice Steinhardt was a senior executive at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative and analytic arm of the U. S. Congress. Over the course of two decades, she directed the GAO’s work on environmental, energy, and public health programs, as well as government-wide management issues, testifying numerous times before the Congress. For several years, she was also responsible for leading GAO’s strategic planning. Her work led to major improvements in the effectiveness of federal policies and programs as well as savings for taxpayers, for which she received a number of awards. Since 2003, when she and her sister, Helene McQuade, founded Art and Remembrance, she has also worked tirelessly to share her mother’s art and story, and inspiration, with wider audiences. She is the co-author (with her mother, posthumously) of “Memories of Survival,” and Executive Producer of the award-winning film, “Through the Eye of the Needle: The Art of Esther Nisenthal Krinitz.”
Helene McQuade, Vice President and Vice ChairpersonHelene McQuade, the younger of Esther Nisenthal Krinitz’s two daughters, was born in Brooklyn, New York, where her parents emigrated after World War II. Encouraged by her mother to draw, paint and play the flute as a child, Helene developed a lasting love for art and music. A graduate of the City College of New York with a bachelor’s degree in Art History, her early career was in the arts and publishing. During the 1970s and 1980s, she was assistant to artist Dan Flavin. Now residing with her husband in the Hudson Valley of New York, Helene recently retired from her position as a development officer for the not-for-profit Foundation for Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie, NY. Valuing the importance of community service, Helene has volunteered as a member of the Pine Plains School District Board of Education, the Pine Plains Zoning Commission, and the Pine Plains Free Library.
Benita Kline, TreasurerBenita Kline is Co-Founder and Vice President of Leventhal/Kline Management Inc., a comprehensive management service for family, independent and corporate foundations located in the San Francisco Bay Area. At LKM, she directs client foundations’ activities in grantmaking, strategic planning, board development, evaluation and community relations. She also provides consultative services to foundations on strategic planning, program development, and succession planning. Prior to forming LKM, Benita served as Director of Planning and Allocations for the Jewish Federation of the Greater East Bay. Previously, she was the Development Director of the United Jewish Community Centers of San Francisco, Marin and the Peninsula. She is a Past President of the Jewish Community Center of the East Bay and has served on the Board of Directors of the Jewish Community Federation of the East Bay and the Alameda County FEMA Board. She is a recipient of the “Menches in the Trenches” Award of the American Jewish Congress for outstanding community service. She holds an MS in Organizational Psychology from San Francisco State University.
Rachel Peric, SecretaryRachel Peric (nee Steinhardt, formerly Glass) is Executive Director of Welcoming America, an organization devoted to promoting mutual respect and cooperation between foreign-born and U.S.-born Americans. She was previously Executive Director of the Montgomery Coalition for Adult English Literacy in Montgomery County, Maryland. The granddaughter of Esther Nisenthal Krinitz, she is a founding board member of Art and Remembrance, and has been actively involved in the operations of A&R, including developing educational materials to accompany the works of her grandmother. Ms. Peric holds a BA in International Studies from Johns Hopkins University and a Masters in Public Management from the University of Maryland.
Peggie Hartwell, Board MemberPeggie Hartwell is a nationally-known fourth-generation African-American quilter, teacher, and lecturer. She currently lives in Summerville, South Carolina, where she is Chairperson of the Summerville Chapter of the Women of Color Quilters Network and Voices On Cloth. She is also a member of the American Quilt Society. Her education includes a B.A. in Theater from Queens College, Queens, New York and a Certificate of Completion: Artists in Classrooms, Developing Strategies for Working with Students with Disabilities from S.C. School for the Deaf and Blind, Spartanburg, South Carolina. She was a recipient of the 2017 Jean Laney Folk Heritage Award and is on the Roster as a Master Artist for Opus Inc., Hartford, Connecticut and also on the Roster as Artist in the Classroom for the State of South Carolina. In 1996, she received a grant from the National Quilting Association, Inc. to create a ten quilt series that recorded her South Carolina childhood and farm experiences. Her work can be found at the Museum of Arts and Design (New York City), Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer (Grand Island, Nebraska), International Quilt Study Center & Museum (Lincoln, Nebraska), the Michigan State University Museum and the Smithsonian Institution American Art Museum. Her work as an inspirational teacher is documented in the film The Quilted Conscience – a Nebraska Story, where she guided a group of 16 Sudanese girls, all refugees living in Grand Island, Nebraska, to create a quilt made up of their hopes and dreams.
Cecile Lipworth, Board MemberCecile Lipworth is the Founder of Ripple Catalyst Studio. She grew up in South Africa and has lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico, for 20 years. She is a passionate change-maker, recognized as a leader and catalyst in movement building, supporting social change on a global scale. Prior to founding Ripple, she worked for 15 years at V-Day, the global movement to end violence against women and girls founded by Eve Ensler (playwright of The Vagina Monologues). Cecile now consults for various social justice organizations based in New Mexico and around the world bringing her expertise in movement building, event planning, communications, and fundraising to their strategic plans. She is also the founder and co-host of Brave Space, a weekly radio show that is opening up dialogue about feminist-centric issues in Northern New Mexico and beyond. In 2016 Cecile was the producer of Art and Remembrance’s program Stitching Our Stories – Santa Fe.
Simon Steinhardt, Board MemberSimon Steinhardt, a grandson of Esther Nisenthal Krinitz, is an editorial strategist and the co-author of Hidden in Plain Sight (HarperCollins). He is the former managing editor of Swindle magazine, and has written for numerous other magazines; edited and co-written several art and culture books, including Shepard Fairey’s Supply and Demand; written copy for a wide range of ad campaigns and websites; and developed social media and editorial content for marketing agencies Studio Number One and JESS3. Simon holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Maryland. He lives in Los Angeles.
Priscilla Totten, Board MemberPriscilla Totten works in communications for the American Bar Association in Washington, D.C., where she writes press releases, talking points, op-eds and media plans to further the organization’s initiatives on such issues as pro bono service, expanding legal services for veterans and delivering legal services to homeless youth, among others. She previously worked as an editor at USA Today, senior editor at USA Weekend Magazine, managing editor at FamilyFun Magazine and special projects manager at U.S. News & World Report. She holds a BA in American Studies from Georgetown University and lives in Alexandria, Va. An experienced quilter, she also served on the board of directors of the Skating Club of Northern Virginia from 2007-17, the last three as president of the club.
In MemoriamRonni Denes met Esther when she was 12 years old. She began her career as a classroom teacher and spent the rest of her professional life working to provide educational opportunities for young people, particularly those underserved. As a founding Board member, Ronni contributed her considerable expertise in the non-profit and education sectors to support our strategic planning and governance. But most of all, she brought her love of Esther to the heart of our organization. Like Ronni, Doris Freedman was a beloved friend of Esther and her family for many years. A founding member of the Art and Remembrance board, Doris was a strong supporter of its educational mission and contributed generously to its expansion. In her professional life, Doris spent many years as a government attorney advocating for small business; she brought this sense of public service to her service on our Board as well. But she too, like Ronni, brought with her an undying love for Esther and a determination to bring Esther’s art and story to young people.