Jewish News Syndicate / JNS.org
July 10, 2019
A bipartisan group of Senators plan to introduce this week the “Never Again Education Act” that, if enacted, would create a grant program at the U.S. Department of Education to enable teachers across the United States the resources and training necessary to teach students about the Holocaust and its lessons.
“This week I will file the Never Again Education Act to help states obtain resources through @usedgov so our students learn about the historical fact that Nazi Germany systematically murdered over 6 million Jews,” tweeted Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
Sens. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) will join Rubio in introducing the measure, two sources familiar with the matter told JNS.
Rosen’s office declined to comment on the record, and Cramer’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Organizations including Hadassah, the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) and StandWithUs (SWU) support the bill.
“This Bill is urgent. Students—and sometimes teachers and administrators, too—are painfully unaware of the Holocaust,” said Hadasah national president Ellen Hershkin and executive director and CEO Janice Weinman. “We must address this because Holocaust education programs are important at reducing extremism, hate and bigotry against all people.”
SWC associate dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper told JNS that, along with supporting the bill, the focus should be on “why is it so important to learn about the Shoah.”
“We’re in the 21st century now,” he continued. “It’s 75 years later, and I think that the reasons we need to learn is obviously what’s missing through the lexicon of now the former principle, which is that the most important takeaway from learning about the Nazi Holocaust. Missions like good and evil, choosing what you do in life … what happens when you remain a bystander.”
In addition to the Jews, the Nazis “also sought to destroy” values such as “justice, empathy, fairness.”
Therefore, said Cooper, both the statistics and history of the Holocaust, in addition to universal principles, must be taught.
“At this time, where we are witnessing an alarming rise of anti-Semitism, not just in the Middle East and Europe, but, right here in the United States, it is nothing short a moral imperative that the lessons of the Holocaust be taught,” EMET founder and president Sarah Stern told JNS.
She added, “It should be a federal law that the lessons of the Holocaust be taught and retaught so that we will not forget the lessons of history. As the philosopher George Santayana said, ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ ”
“We support all efforts to improve and increase resources for Holocaust education,” SWU CEO Roz Rothstein told JNS. “At a time when anti-Semitism is rising across the political spectrum, it is more important than ever for students to learn as much as they can about this dark chapter in human history.”
In the U.S. House of Representatives, Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) introduced in February their version of the measure, which currently has 204 co-sponsors.
“We are at a dangerous moment in time. Anti-Semitism is on the rise around the world and here at home, and the memory of the Holocaust is fading for far too many Americans,” said Maloney. “We can combat this by making sure we teach our students, tomorrow’s leaders, about the horrors of the Holocaust. It is simply not enough to condemn hateful, violent attacks against the Jewish community—we need to be proactive; we need to take action.”
“Over the last few years, a concerning amount of anti-Semitic incidents have occurred in our country,” said Stefanik. “My hope is that this bill will combat the rise of this inexcusable behavior by further educating our nation’s students on the unthinkable and innumerable atrocities of the Holocaust. As a nation, we cannot allow a return to the hateful actions that led to the Holocaust, and I’m proud to do my part to change it.”
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