WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Jan. 27, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, new bipartisan legislation — the Holocaust Education and Antisemitism Lessons (HEAL) Act — is being introduced in the House with more than 60 cosponsors.
The bipartisan bill is led by Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), and co-led by Co-Chair of the House Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Antisemitism Congresswoman Kathy Manning (NC-6), House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (TX-10), and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1).
The bipartisan HEAL Act will direct the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to conduct a study on Holocaust education efforts in public schools nationwide, which will:
- Determine which states and school districts require or do not require Holocaust education in their curriculum;
- Determine which states and school districts offer optional Holocaust education;
- Identify the standards and requirements schools mandate on this Holocaust education;
- Identify the types and quality of instructional materials used to teach;
- Identify the approaches used by schools to assess what students learn; and
- Report the results of the study to Congress.
There is mounting evidence that knowledge about the Holocaust is beginning to fade. A 2020 survey measuring Holocaust awareness in the U.S. found that roughly two-thirds of those asked did not know how many Jewish people died. The survey of Americans between 18 and 40 also found that 48% could not name one concentration camp or ghetto.
According to recent analysis, a majority of U.S. states do not have laws requiring public school students to learn about the horrors of the Holocaust.
The Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) most recent Audit of Antisemitic Incidents (2021) captured more than 2,700 incidents throughout the U.S. — a 34% increase from 2020 and the highest number on record since ADL began tracking these events in 1979.
“We cannot — and we must not — ever ignore the stunning rise in antisemitism and Holocaust denial — across Europe, around the world, and increasingly, here at home in the United States, including the violent, antisemitic attacks we have experienced in my own home state of New Jersey and around the country. The mounting evidence that knowledge about the Holocaust is beginning to fade should also alarm us all,” said Gottheimer, the lead sponsor of the bipartisan HEAL Act. “We all have an obligation to teach future generations about this evil. We have an obligation to try to heal our communities. We have an obligation to teach about this stain of hatred, so that it never happens ever again. That is why I’m very proud to be introducing the HEAL Act — bipartisan legislation asking the Holocaust Memorial Museum to conduct a study on Holocaust education efforts in public schools nationwide. Given the rise of antisemitism and Holocaust denial here at home and around the world, we need leaders willing to stand up now, and stand together against antisemitism, and all forms of bigotry, hatred, and intolerance, which have no place in our country or world.”
“Today we came together as Republicans and Democrats alike to ensure that future generations understand an accurate history of the Holocaust. Amid the rise in antisemitism around the world, it’s critical that the horrors of the Holocaust are taught so that these events are never repeated. We can work together to put an end to hate,” said Rep. Tom Kean, Jr. (R-NJ).
The bipartisan HEAL Act has earned support from: the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Jewish Federation of North America (JFNA), the American Jewish Committee, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC), B’nai B’rith International, Hadassah, the American Jewish Congress, Jewish Women International (JWI), the Jewish Council of Public Affairs, the National Council of Jewish Women, Inc., Agudath Israel of America, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), and The Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey.
“Holocaust education has always been a top priority for Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey. We are thrilled to see our own Congressman Josh Gottheimer take a lead role on Holocaust education federally. It is especially meaningful that the legislation is being introduced on International Holocaust Remembrance Day – the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau,” said Jason M. Shames, CEO, Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey.