Join us October 23 at Bellarmine University for a special presentation by the author James A. Grymes and Amonon Weinstein’s son, Avshi Weinstein. More info.

Violins of Hope by James A. Grymes

The violin has formed an important aspect of Jewish culture for centuries, both as a popular instrument with classical Jewish musicians and as a central factor of social life, as in the Klezmer tradition. But during the Holocaust, the violin assumed extraordinary roles within the Jewish community. For some musicians, the instrument was a liberator; for others, it was a savior that spared their lives. For many, the violin provided comfort in mankind’s darkest hour, and, in at least one case, helped avenge murdered family members. Above all, the violins of the Holocaust represented strength and optimism for the future.

Today, these instruments serve as powerful reminders of an unimaginable experience—they are memorials to those who perished and testaments to those who survived. In this spirit, renowned Israeli violinmaker Amnon Weinstein has devoted the past twenty years to restoring the violins of the Holocaust as a tribute to those who were lost, National Jewish Book Awards Winner including four hundred of his own relatives. Behind each of these violins is a uniquely fascinating and inspiring story. Juxtaposing these narratives against one man’s harrowing struggle to reconcile his own family’s history and the history of his people, this insightful, moving, and achingly human book presents a new way of understanding the Holocaust.

Learn more about Violins of Hope by James A. Grymes.


The Jewish Virtual Library

The Jewish Virtual Library (JVL) is the most comprehensive online encyclopedia of Jewish history, politics and culture.  With nearly 25,000 entries the JVL is a one-stop shop for students and people of all ages interested in anything from anti-Semitism to Zionism.  The Library has a vast global audience, reaching more than 30 million visitors – nearly 900,000 per month – from more than 200 countries and territories over the last three years.

Facing History and Ourselves

Recommended Books & Study Guides

Through rigorous historical analysis combined with the study of human behavior, Facing History’s approach heightens students’ understanding of racism, religious intolerance, and prejudice; increases students’ ability to relate history to their own lives; and promotes greater understanding of their roles and responsibilities in a democracy.  All publication are available for free download to Qualified Facing History educators.  Visit to learn more.

Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior 

Our core resource, Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior provides an interdisciplinary approach to citizenship education. Students move from thought to judgement to participation as they confront the moral questions inherent in a study of violence, racism, antisemitism and bigotry.


Study Guide to the MTV Film I’m Still Here: Real Diaries of Young People Who Lived During the Holocaust

During the Holocaust, a handful of young people chose to write and record in diaries throughout Europe. The documentary film developed by MTV weaves together excerpts of young writers’ diaries covering the years 1937-1944. The companion study guide aims to help educators use the voices of these young writers from the film as a springboard for discussion and reflection on the value of these diaries as historical sources and literary records.


Decision-Making in Times of Injustice 

Decision-Making in Times of Injustice, a 17-lesson unit, is designed to help middle school educators use the materials in Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior, as well as other Facing History resources. This unit has been designed to help students learn about this important moment in history while deepening their understanding of themes such as peer pressure, obedience, fear and self-preservation, opportunism, and prejudice.

Common Core Writing Prompts and Strategies: Holocaust and Human Behavior 

This resource connects our core work, Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior, with writing prompts that align with the expectations of the Common Core State Standards. This supplementary guide includes specific writing prompts and teaching strategies that ask students to use evidence as they craft a formal argumentative essay. The resource features effective writing strategies for general use in the social studies or English classroom.

Finding a Voice: Musicians in Terezin 

Soon after Hitler and his Nazi party took over Germany in 1933, they began to isolate and then eliminate Jews and other “racial enemies.” By the late 1930s, Jews could no longer own radios or record players. They were banned from movie theatres, concert halls, and cabarets. Their music, art, and literature were labeled “degenerate,” even immoral. This study guide is designed to help teachers and their students use the accompanying CD explores the role of the arts and artists in that extraordinary place. It is music that deepens our understanding not only of creativity but also of courage, resilience, and resistance. Their music is a part of the history of Terezin and of the Holocaust.

Facing History and Ourselves: The Jews of Poland

Facing History and Ourselves: The Jews of Poland considers the ways Jews and their non-Jewish neighbors in Poland and other parts of Eastern Europe responded to questions of identity, membership, and difference at various times in their shared history. Students explore this history by reading autobiographies, diaries, official documents, literary works, and other sources.


I Promised I Would Tell 

Sonia Weitz tells her story through poetry and testimony about her life during the Holocaust in I Promised I Would Tell. She gives life to the millions of children, men and women who were murdered in Europe because they were Jews. Her personal memories and poetry give a history to mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters.


Schindler’s List 

The award-winning film Schindler’s List provides an opportunity to both preserve and judge the past through a medium that is accessible to every high school student. This study guide is designed to help teachers make the most of that opportunity by fostering classroom reflection and discussion.

Totally Unofficial: Raphael Lemkin and the Genocide Convention 

This guide highlights the story of Raphael Lemkin who is known for coining the term genocide. Lemkin challenges us to think deeply about what it will take for individuals, groups, and nations to understand and recognize genocide prevention.


Night: The Study Guide 

Night: The Study Guide explores the relationship between memory and identity and also considers what it means to be a witness to collective violence. This guide accompanies the memoir Night, by Elie Wiesel, which focuses on the final year of the Holocaust—a year the author spent at Auschwitz, a Nazi death camp.

Shot by Shot: The Holocaust in German-Occupied Soviet Territory 

Shot by Shot: The Holocaust in German-Occupied Soviet Territory, an ebook by Joshua Rubenstein, author and associate at Harvard’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian studies, contains personal survivor testimony and archival video footage as well as primary source documents that provide detailed perspectives of the events unfolding during the Holocaust in viet territories.

Sacred Texts, Modern Questions: Connecting Ethics and History Through a Jewish Lens 

Sacred Texts, Modern Questions is a resource designed specifically for educators in a Jewish setting. This five-unit collection of lessons explores sacred texts of the past and the questions that shape our present. It makes connections between instances of moral courage in Pharaoh’s Egypt, struggles of conscience and faith in Hitler’s Europe, and readings from today’s influential thinkers. Our goal is to integrate original Facing History resources with biblical, rabbinic, and contemporary Jewish sources.

A Convenient Hatred: The History of Antisemitism, Phyllis Goldstein 

A Convenient Hatred chronicles a very particular hatred through powerful stories that allow readers to see themselves in the tarnished mirror of history. It raises important questions about the consequences of our assumptions and beliefs and the ways we, as individuals and as members of society, make distinctions between us and them, right and wrong, good and evil. These questions are both universal and particular.