Arizona becomes 18th State to mandate Holocaust education.

Governor Ducey Signs Holocaust Education Bill

Governor Ducey Signs Holocaust Education BillJuly 9, 2021

PHOENIX — Governor Doug Ducey today signed legislation to ensure the next generation of Arizonans learns about the horrors of the Holocaust and the more than six million lives lost at the hands of evil.

“Arizona will continue to stand with and support the Jewish community,” said Governor Ducey. “This bill works to educate our youth on the atrocities of the Holocaust and other genocides. Tragedies like this must never be allowed to happen again. This bill is a step in the right direction to fight antisemitism in our state, but our work is far from over. We have seen a rise in crimes against individuals in several communities, and we must do more to prevent any additional harm and suffering. Antisemitism is real. I would like to thank Representative Alma Hernandez for her many years of work on this important issue, as well as all the survivors who played a crucial role in making this bill a reality.”

House Bill 2241 requires that all Arizona students receive education on the Holocaust and other genocides during their K-12 education at least twice between seventh and twelfth grade.

Antisemitism has been on the rise in recent years with incidents in Queen Creek, Chandler and most recently at the Chabad on River Synagogue in Tucson. In 2020, there were over 2,000 incidents of antisemitism around the country and 23 incidents in Arizona, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Already this year, there have been 10 incidents in Arizona.

“This was a community effort, and I am proud to see it finally get done. This legislation is an important step to honor both those lost in the Holocaust and the survivors who have worked tirelessly to tell their stories,” said Representative Alma Hernandez. “I’m grateful to Governor Ducey for signing this bill into law. Knowing that all Arizona students will learn about the Holocaust gives me hope. We must teach the atrocities of the past to ensure it never happens again.”

According to a Pew Research Center study conducted in 2019, fewer than half of respondents could correctly answer multiple-choice questions about the number of Jewish individuals who were murdered during the Holocaust or the way that Adolf Hitler came to power.

Wisconsin becomes 17th State to mandate Holocaust education.

Wisconsin becomes 17th State to mandate Holocaust education as Gov. Tony Evers signs bipartisan bill

Gov. Evers signs Senate Bill 69 on April 28 at the Milwaukee Jewish Federation.

Wisconsin schools will be required to provide education on the Holocaust and other genocides for students in at least two different grade levels, under a bipartisan bill signed into law by Gov. Tony Evers on Wednesday.

Evers signed the bill at the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, which has raised alarms about the rising frequency of anti-Semitic incidents. Federation Board Chair Moshe Katz said the goal of the bill is to ensure that the stories and lessons of Holocaust survivors are not forgotten.

“I grew up with Holocaust survivors all around me,” Katz said. “And hearing their stories, I always feel I am a better person … recognizing our responsibility, not just to their memories, but to making the world a better place so that hate like that never fills our hearts again.”

Anti-Semitic incidents reported to Milwaukee’s Jewish Community Relations Council have more than doubled in the last two years, its annual audit found.

In the early 2010s, it was rare for the council to see more than 20 reports per year. In 2018, the council verified 47 incidents. In 2020, it verified 99 incidents.

More:With anti-Semitism on the rise, Milwaukee’s Jewish leaders urge everyone to play role in rooting out hate

The bill requires schools to include curriculum about the Holocaust and other genocides at least once in grades 5-8 and at least once again in grades 9-12. The requirement applies to public schools, charter schools and private schools that accept state-funded vouchers.

It also requires the state superintendent to develop model curricula on the subject by consulting with a Wisconsin-based organization that provides Holocaust education, along with an agency in another state that has already developed model curricula. At least a dozen other states already require Holocaust education.

Katz said the Federation’s Holocaust Education Resource Center is planning to fill the role of the Wisconsin consulting organization.

Under the bill, the Holocaust is defined as the “systematic state-sponsored killing of 6 million Jewish men, women and children and millions of others by Nazi Germany and its collaborators between 1933 and 1945.”

While this genocide is the only one specifically named in the bill, Katz said the curriculum could open the door to discussing other examples of genocide and oppression.

“It’s not a Jewish bill,” he said. “It’s a bill about changing our behavior forever more on all forms of racism, anti-Semitism, chauvinism, misogyny, whatever the different areas are.”

Arkansas becomes 16th State to mandate Holocaust education

Arkansas Governor signs Holocaust education bill into law.

Arkansas State Flag

On April 8, Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed into law Act 611, which requires public schools to teach Holocaust history to Arkansas students grades five-12.

The date was significant. April 8 of this year was Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, a national memorial day in Israel in recognition of the 6 million Jews and 5 million others who died under Nazi Germany’s state-sponsored persecution.

The act was introduced as Senate Bill 160 by Sen. Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs, and co-sponsored by Rep. DeAnn Vaught, R-Horatio. It unanimously passed in the 35-member Senate and 90-0 in the 100-member House.

In 2019, the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. surged to its highest level since 1979, with more than 2,100 acts of assault, vandalism and harassment, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

Teaching children about the Holocaust can help to combat neo-Nazism, says Barry Brown, a retired exercise science professor and researcher at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, and member of the Springdale-based Holocaust Education Committee.

“The only way we can really, truly eliminate hate is if kids are exposed to the Holocaust — why and how it was caused, what caused it — so it will not be repeated.”

The 78-year-old Brown, who is Jewish, grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y. His cousin survived a German concentration camp.

“He told us all about that, and this was back in the ’50s before many survivors would even talk about it,” Brown says.

In 2018, Brown brought Pieter Kohnstam, a Holocaust survivor whose babysitter was Anne Frank — yes, that Anne Frank — to be the keynote speaker at the Holocaust committee’s 27th annual conference.

Kohnstam, who lives in Venice, Fla., is an advocate for Holocaust education. In a May 19, 2019, Democrat-Gazette article about an exhibit of Anne Frank photographs in North Little Rock, he said:

“There is a phenomenal amount of people who don’t know the Holocaust existed. We hope that superintendents and government officials initiate teaching, by law, that not only the Holocaust existed but also about standing up against genocide and racism.”

After the article ran, Brown said he was approached by his friend and former Arkansas Razorbacks baseball coach Norm DeBriyn, who connected him with Hester. Brown started the Holocaust Education Living Proposal Committee, supporters reached out from other parts of the state, letters were sent and the legislation took shape.

“It just steamrolled,” Brown says.

But work is just beginning, he adds.

“We have to stay in close touch with the Arkansas Department of Education and not let this fall through the cracks. By 2023, hopefully this will be part of the established curriculum in all of the public schools in the state.”

By SEAN CLANCEY, Arkansas Democrat Gazette, April 25, 2021. Click for full report.