RELEASE: Gottheimer Wins 2024 Morris Katz Award for Bipartisan Work on HEAL Act

Recognized for his steadfast work combating antisemitism and strengthening Holocaust memorial education

Jun 24, 2024
Press

Above: Gottheimer accepts the 2024 Morris Katz Award.

TEANECK, NJ —U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) was recognized with the 2024 Morris Katz Award by the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce. The award, named for prolific artist and Holocaust survivor Morris Katz, highlighted Gottheimer’s work to introduce and advance the bipartisan Holocaust Education and Antisemitism Lessons (HEAL) Act.

The bipartisan HEAL Act will:

  • Direct the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to conduct a study on Holocaust education efforts in public schools nationwide; this will help
  • 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.

Gottheimer introduced the bipartisan HEAL Act with Representatives Kathy Manning (NC-6), Michael McCaul (TX-10), and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1), Co-Chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus.

“I’m honored to receive the 2024 Morris Katz Award and contribute, in a small way, to the great legacy of its namesake, Morris Katz,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), the only Jewish member of the New Jersey Congressional Delegation. “I will always stand up to bigotry in all forms and fight hard to protect our core Jersey value of freedom: freedom from fear, freedom from hate, and freedom to worship, live, and learn however you so choose.”

Morris Katz, the namesake of the award, was known as a trailblazing artist. In 1985, he broke Pablo Picasso’s record as the world’s most prolific artist. His most famous work, the Presidential Collection, portrayed each president with a historically accurate flag behind them, reflecting the number of states in the country when they led. His artwork celebrates his Jewish heritage and the incredible history of the United States.

Gottheimer was joined at today’s event by Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce President Duvi Honig, New Jersey Assemblyman Alexander “Avi” Schnall, Bergen County Commissioner Tracy Zur, Teaneck Deputy Mayor Elie Katz, Teaneck Councilwoman Hillary Goldberg, Teaneck Councilman Mark Schwartz, Englewood Councilwoman Lisa Wysotski, and New York Association of Korean American Business President Joseph Yoo.

Below: Gottheimer accepts the 2024 Morris Katz Award.

Gottheimer’s remarks, as prepared for delivery are below:

Morris Katz Foundation and the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce for recognizing me with the 2024 Morris Katz Award. It’s an incredible honor to receive this award and contribute, in a small way, to the great legacy of its namesake, Morris Katz. 

Morris Katz is the embodiment of the American dream. After surviving the Holocaust, he came to the United States and embarked on an incredible art career. I think we’re kindred spirits because just like me, Morris worked at a breakneck pace. He used to paint two dozen canvases in an hour. In 1985, he went on to break Pablo Picasso’s record as the world’s most prolific artist just across the Hudson in New York City. I love his work and his philosophy; he liked to say, “painting is like shmearing a bagel.” And Morris, no truer words have ever been spoken.

Morris’s greatest work was the Presidential Collection. He spent 200 hours painstakingly capturing each detail of our great presidents and a flag behind them with the exact number of stars reflecting the number of states in the union when they led. It’s an incredibly inspirational piece — a testament to our country, the greatest country the world has ever known, and the leaders who made it so great. 

Representing North Jersey in the United States Congress has been the honor of a lifetime. I feel truly blessed to give back to the region where I grew up and more broadly, the country that has meant so much to my entire family. But, leadership is also a great responsibility. As the only Jewish member of the New Jersey Congressional Delegation and the only Jewish member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, I feel compelled to ensure our voices are heard in the halls of Congress.

I won’t sugarcoat it: the past year has been incredibly challenging. According to the Anti-Defamation League, 2023 was the worst year for antisemitism since they began collecting data in 1979. There were more than 8,000 antisemitic incidents reported in 2023, including more than 5,000 antisemitic incidents reported after October 7. Nearly 1 in 10 of those incidents happened in our state. 

It’s easy to feel hopeless, but in this time, I draw on inspiration from our scriptures. As Proverbs 24:16 says, “A righteous man falls down seven times and gets up.” Even when we’re knocked down or challenged, we won’t back down. I will always stand up to bigotry in all forms and fight hard to protect our core Jersey value of freedom: freedom from fear, freedom from hate, and freedom to worship, live, and learn however you so choose. 

A major part of my work over the past year — and the reason why we’re all here today — is the HEAL Act. Last year, I worked with Congresswoman Kathy Manning and my colleagues across the aisle, including my co-chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, to introduce the Holocaust Education and Antisemitism Lessons Act or HEAL Act. This bill directs the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to study Holocaust education efforts in public schools across the country. 

Given the antisemitism we’re seeing on our campuses, online, and in our communities, I truly believe education is the antidote. 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. 

I come bearing good news — the HEAL Act is moving forward. Parts of the bill have been included in the bipartisan Never Again Education Reauthorization Act. You can bet, I’m working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make sure we get this legislation through the House and Senate. We need to empower the next generation through education.

Last month, I had the privilege of leading more than twenty of my colleagues on a bipartisan tour of the Holocaust Museum. It was an incredibly powerful evening in which we discussed the importance of education, specifically Holocaust education, in combating bigotry and prejudice. 

We came together because at the end of the day, standing against hate isn’t a Republican or Democrat issue: it’s an American issue. We will continue to work together — to protect our religious institutions with nonprofit security grants, to stop antisemitism at our institutions of higher learning, and to stand with our key democratic ally Israel in the wake of the deadliest attack on the Jewish people since the Holocaust. We will continue to work together even when it’s difficult because it’s the right thing to do.

Thank you again for giving me this great honor. I am grateful to know you and fight for you in Washington. Here in the greatest country in the world, I know that when we stand side by side to promote understanding and justice, our best days will always be ahead of us.

May God bless you, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.

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