Today, Governor Kathy Hochul signed the Holocaust Education Bill into law at a special ceremony at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City.
The bill, S.121B, by NYS Senator Anna M. Kaplan (D-North Hills) and Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows), would ensure that students across New York are receiving a meaningful education on the Holocaust as required by existing State law.
The bill passed the New York State Senate and Assembly with unanimous support in May of this year, and having now been signed into law, takes effect immediately.
Senator Anna M. Kaplan said “With antisemitism on the rise, and Holocaust misinformation exploding around the world, it’s never been more important that we learn the lessons of the Holocaust, and ensure our next generation knows about our history, no matter how dark or difficult the conversation may be. It’s why I’ve fought tirelessly to pass the Holocaust Education Bill, so that we can ensure this vital history is being taught to students in New York, and so that we may never forget what happened. I’m so grateful for my partnership with Assemblymember Nily Rozic, for the leadership of Governor Kathy Hochul, and for the countless advocates and organizations who fought alongside me since day one of this important effort.”
Consul General of Israel in New York Ambassador Asaf Zamir said, “This historic bill to further Holocaust education will cast light where there is now darkness, empathy where there is terrifying ignorance. Knowledge of the largest scale operation of persecution and genocide is waning, and hate has risen unchecked for too long. Protecting our history is important to the survival of not only every group targeted by genocidal fascism, but to sustaining the health of democracy itself. We thank Senator Anna Kaplan, Assemblywoman Nily Rozic and Governor Kathy Hochul for advocating to not only survey the state of Holocaust education in schools, but to facilitate its continued improvement and address its worrying decline amongst today’s youth.”
A recent study by the nonprofit Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) revealed disturbing findings about Holocaust knowledge among New Yorkers ages 18-39, including that 58% cannot name a single concentration camp, 19% believe that Jews caused the Holocaust, and 28% believe the Holocaust is a myth or has been exaggerated. In each of these three metrics, New York had the worst score of any state in the US.
The new law written by Senator Kaplan and Assemblywoman Rozic that was signed today will address the problem by ensuring that New York students are learning about the Holocaust in school, something that 90% of the general population considers ‘important’ or ‘somewhat important’ according to a recent study by the American Jewish Committee (AJC).
The law authorizes the State Education Department to conduct a survey of schools to identify which schools are teaching about the Holocaust. The survey is required to be attested to by the Superintendent of Schools that they are teaching about the Holocaust appropriately at each grade level. The survey will have questions on how the district is meeting learning standards about the Holocaust, and each school district that does not attest that they are meeting the standards will be required to issue a corrective action plan on how they plan to comply with standards. Findings of the survey will be made available to legislative leaders.
CEO of UJA-Federation of New York Eric S. Goldstein said, “It has never been more important for students in New York to learn about the atrocities of the Holocaust. This legislation authorizes the State Education Department to conduct a survey identifying which schools are teaching this required subject matter and is a crucial step in ensuring that the critical lessons of the Holocaust are transmitted across our community. UJA-Federation of New York thanks Governor Hochul for signing this significant legislation into law, and for the tireless efforts of Senator Kaplan and Assemblywoman Rozic to make sure this bill passed the Legislature.”
Jewish Community Relations Council CEO Gideon Taylor said, “At a time where 60 percent of New Yorkers aged 18 to 39 are unaware that six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis, I congratulate Governor Kathy Hochul for her leadership and for signing historic legislation today that ensures our children will Never Forget the bitter lessons of the Holocaust. Sincere gratitude goes to the authors of this legislation, Assemblywoman Nily Rozic and Senator Anna Kaplan.”