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Monday, July 13, 2020

House Overwhelmingly Passes Holocaust Education Bill

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The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill providing funding and resources for schools to provide Holocaust education throughout the country.

According to a press release from Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), one of the leading co-sponsors of the Never Again Education Act, the bill allocates $10 million over a five-year period toward programs providing training for teachers on the matter as well as expanding the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s website that provides the relevant curriculum and course materials.

The bill passed with 393 votes in favor and five against, according to Hadassah.

“I can think of no better way to honor the memories of those murdered in the Holocaust than to make sure our students know their names & their stories,” Maloney tweeted.

Jewish groups praised the bill’s passage.

“We are pleased that the House has taken action today, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, to ensure that the lessons of the Holocaust will be passed from one generation to the next,” Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “We look forward to this law’s swift passage and to working closely with teachers and districts across the country to ensure that Holocaust education is uniform and consistent across the country.”

American Jewish Committee Los Angeles Regional Director Richard S. Hirschhaut told the Journal in a phone interview, “We are thrilled to welcome the overwhelming support for this essential and ever timely Holocaust education bill. Holocaust education can be a powerful antidote to hate and anti-Semitism in our world today.

He added: “I have witnessed firsthand the power of the connection that between a Holocaust survivor and a young person. It is genuine and it is enduring. The more Holocaust education we can bring to people across America, the better opportunities we have for understanding and empathy.”

Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America CEO and Executive Director Janice Weinman and National President Rhoda Smolow similarly said in a joint statement, “It is imperative that we make every effort to push back against the hatred, bigotry, anti-Semitism and extremism fueling violent attacks – and the best way to do that is by passing the Never Again Education Act. Improving the availability and enhancing the quality of Holocaust education is within our reach. Educators deserve our full support in their efforts to instill its universal and timeless lessons in every generation.”

They urged the Senate to follow the House’s lead and pass the bill.

Christians United for Israel (CUFI) Pastor and Co-Founder John Hagee also said in a statement, “Combatting the rise of anti-Semitism sweeping across the country is a top CUFI priority, and one of the fundamental ways in which we can combat this scourge is through education. Sadly, Americans know far too little about the Holocaust, and such ignorance enables anti-Semitism to rear its ugly head. We must ensure the next generation understands the history and horrors of anti-Semitism and this legislation is a solid step in that direction.”

A Pew Research Center poll published on Jan. 22 found that 45% of American adults know that six million Jews died during the Holocaust and 43% of American adults know that Adolf Hitler rose to power in Germany through the democratic process.

High school student Jack Elbaum wrote in a Jan. 23 op-ed in The Forward that the Pew numbers highlight the need for better Holocaust education in the country.

“Considering the obvious lack of adequate education on Jewish history, why would we be surprised when anti-Semites assault Jews on the streets of New York, go on a stabbing rampage in a Rabbi’s house in Monsey or shoot-up a synagogue in Pittsburgh or Poway?” he wrote. “Isn’t it a predictable outcome of years of ignoring our history? Education may not be the final step, but it sure is an important first one.”

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