2016 Redesign Interior Pages Butterfly Project

Levine JCC Butterfly Project

The Levine JCC’s Butterfly Project Workshops are interactive sessions focused on teaching the lessons of the Holocaust – how to identify and combat prejudice, stereotyping and discrimination, and to promote activism. The goal of the Levine JCC’s Butterfly Project is to teach each participant to remember the past, to act responsibly in the present and to create a more peaceful future. 

On-Site Workshops


  • It is critical that today’s youth examine the past in order to understand what can happen when individuals and governments fail to take a stand against injustice. The Levine JCC’s Butterfly Project teaches the lessons of the Holocaust and what can happen when prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination are allowed to flourish. The goal is that students implement what they have learned at a Butterfly Project Workshop into their daily lives so that, ultimately, they can better understand how to interrupt hateful behaviors in their schools, communities, society and beyond. We want to help each student understand the difference one person can make. Students walk away with an awareness of the effects of the Holocaust on its most innocent victims – the children.
  • The 2 ½ hour workshop includes:
    • listening to a Holocaust survivor’s story
    • an interactive multimedia exercise using the Anti-Defamation League’s Pyramid of Hate, during which students examine what can happen when individuals and governments fail to respect and protect all people
    • painting a ceramic butterfly in memory of a specific child who perished in the Holocaust
    • a discussion in the Margaret and Lou Schwartz Butterfly Garden, while viewing the Holocaust Memorial.

History and Background

  • Listen to an audio clip for the history and background of the Levine JCC’s Butterfly Project.
  • In 2008, the Levine JCC of Charlotte committed to joining the project. The initial workshop consisted of volunteers going to schools and faith-based organizations, at which time a short lesson was given and butterflies were painted.

  • In 2011, the current form of the workshop was created and groups began coming to the Levine JCC to participate in workshops with an expanded curriculum.


  • 2008-11: 3,000 community participants
  • 2011-12 school year: 991 participants
  • 2012-13 school year: 3,116 participants
  • 2013-14 school year: 4,952 participants
  • 2014-15 school year: 5,540 participants
  • 2015-16 school year: 5,830 participants
  • 2016-17 school year: 5,506 participants
  • 2017-18 school year: 5,569 participants
  • 2018-19 school year: 5,668 participants
  • The Levine JCC Butterfly Project has painted more than 40,170 ceramic butterflies towards the world-wide goal of 1.5 million.

The Margaret and Lou Schwartz Butterfly Garden

The Margaret & Lou Schwartz Butterfly Garden Holocaust Memorial was created to memorialize the 1.5 million youth who were killed in the Holocaust. The sculpture was dedicated on Yom Ha’Shoah, the Day of Remembrance, May 1, 2011. Subsequent additions to the Garden include an Inspirational Pathway with seven quotations, a seating area, as well as plantings – creating an uplifting and inspiring space.   

Paul Rousso, a native Charlottean and accomplished visual artist, designed the memorial sculpture. He encourages visitors to search for meaning in all aspects of the artwork – the grout color, the broken butterfly pieces, the sculpture shape and any other element that one finds inspirational. Mr. Rousso was greatly assisted by Patrick Robertson, a talented local mosaic artist. Mr. Rousso feels uniquely connected to this project since many of his own family members were killed in the Holocaust.

To Participate

Contact Emily Russell, Levine JCC Butterfly Project Administrator, at butterflyproject@charlottejcc.org or 704.944.6833. Workshop curriculum is appropriate for students in grades 5 through 12, through to adulthood.  Workshops may be scheduled Tuesdays through Thursdays; limited to 100 participants per day.  We ask for a donation of $5 per participant, with scholarships available.  Not part of a group? Open community workshops are conducted each year, and will be published on the LJCC web site.

Virtual Workshops 

The Virtual Workshop was created for middle schools located at least 50 miles from Shalom Park and are unable to attend an on-site workshop within school hours taking bus requirements into consideration. This workshop, which includes all the components of the on-site workshop, can be streamed into your classroom
For more information about the Virtual Workshop, to watch a trailer and to register to participate, please click here.

Pre-Workshop Materials

Review of these materials prior to attending a Butterfly Project workshop will enhance the students’ experience:
Survivor Stories
Irving Bienstock
Suly Chenkin
The Escalation of HateAn activity that provides middle and high school students the opportunity to examine the escalating nature of hate and to consider the difficulty of stopping the progression once it begins.
Resource List

Extended Learning Resources

Lesson Plans

Freedom Writers movie – Extension Project 

First they Came . . . Updating Martin Niemöller’s quote Students will explore the concepts of individual and collective responsibility for WWII atrocities by analyzing and critiquing Martin Niemöller’s famous statement. They will further explore and determine their own sense of responsibility for current local and world events.

The Crime of the Bystander Lesson plan by the NC Civic Education Consortium using the poem The Hangman, and comparing it to the poem First they Came.

Imagine a World without Hate – Video Educators Guide The Imagine a World Without Hate™ Video Educator’s Guide was developed to facilitate middle and high school-aged youth in thinking about the impact of prejudice and hate. The activities outlined in this guide provide youth with the opportunity to learn more about the lives of people who were killed by hate violence and to use their stories as an opportunity to reflect on how fighting hate and bigotry at an early stage can change lives and history.

Pyramid of Alliance Building on the ADL’s Pyramid of Hate concept used in the Butterfly Project Workshops, this activity has high school students examining some of the ways that people can take action against bigotry. The activity also gives students an opportunity to consider some of the ways a person can be an ally, and to assess how building alliances strengthens a community.

Remembering Those Hurt by Hate: An activity that provides middle and high school students an opportunity to remember people who have been hurt by hate and to create a unique way to express their hopes that such events will not happen again.

Personal Self-Assessment of Anti-Bias Behavior

Dealing with Dilemmas: Upstanders, Bystanders and Whistle-Blowers This four-part lesson is designed to help students think about the importance of standing up for what they believe in despite both external and internal obstacles.

History Unfolded Help uncover what ordinary people around the country could have known about the Holocaust from reading their local newspapers in the years 1933-1945.  

Reflections Read this list of quotes and write an essay on their meaning.

Informational Materials

Creating an Anti-Bias Learning Environment includes checklists

Challenging Biased Language Responding to Bigoted Words, Responding to Jokes and Slurs, Challenging your own Biases

Respecting the Dignity of Words Classroom Conversations

Empowering Young People in the Aftermath of Hate A guide for educators and families.

Definitions Related to Bias, Injustice and Bullying For educators, parents and family members of elementary age children.

Race Talk Engaging young people in conversations about race and racism.

All That Remains Local survivors of the Holocaust (featured in the Butterfly Project workshops) share their stories.

Why Simulation Activities Should Not be Used  Reasons to avoid these as teaching tools and strategies which can be implemented instead. 


The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), founded in 1913, “fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry and protects civil rights for all.” ADL produces a variety of teacher resources including comprehensive curriculum guides and lesson plans for all grades.

IWitness Testimonies, activities and digital resources. Free registration for educators.

Echoes and Reflections Provides educators with the professional development and resources necessary to develop the knowledge, capacity, and practice required to responsibly and effectively teach the Holocaust.

Teaching Tolerance A clearinghouse of information about anti-bias programs and activities being implemented in schools across the country.

Queens University Greenspon Center for Peace and Social Justice A community resource for Holocaust and human rights education and for collaboration on social justice issues. The center provides physical and online resources with the most up-to-date curricular and research materials.

The Center for Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Education of North Carolina (Holocaust Speakers Bureau) assists local educators and organizations with teaching the challenging topics of the Holocaust, genocide, tolerance and human rights.  The Center works with teachers, schools and organizations to develop age-appropriate materials and presentations.

The North Carolina Council on the Holocaust, an agency of the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, provides teacher workshops and educational resources across the state. 

Holocaust Educators Network Offers a 12-day summer seminar for faculty from middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities interested in furthering their knowledge about the Holocaust and other genocides.

To Volunteer

Each workshop requires the assistance of 4-6 volunteers. There are a variety of volunteer opportunities available.  If you would like more information about the volunteer opportunities available, please contact Lori Semel, Butterfly Project Supervisor, at 704.944.6833 or butterflyproject@charlottejcc.org

To Donate

The Levine JCC Butterfly Project is able to do its great work because of support from donors like you.  We appreciate all donations, large and small, believing that individuals working together to each do their part, can accomplish great things. Thank you for your support! Please click here to donate to the Levine JCC Butterfly Project via the main LJCC Donation Page.

Community Events

Please check back for Community Events or contact Emily Russell at emily.russell@charlottejcc.org

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