RELEASE: New Bipartisan Holocaust Education Bill Introduced in the House on International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Jan 27, 2023
Press
Above: Gottheimer announcing the bipartisan HEAL Act in the U.S. Capitol today.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, January 27, 2023, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, newbipartisan 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.

Find the legislative text of the bipartisan HEAL Act here. Watch today’s press conference here.

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 Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), 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.” 

“Like thousands of others, my dad fought in World War II to abolish antisemitism, and he would hate to see it on the rise again today,” said Congressman Michael McCaul (TX-10). “This bill will help improve Holocaust education so future generations of Americans are equipped and empowered to stand up for what is right.”

“It is vitally important to teach students about the history of the Holocaust and antisemitism and to empower them to recognize and confront hate whenever they see it. As we face rising antisemitism, it is critical to expand education nationwide about the history and unique nature of antisemitism, the conspiracy theories and scapegoating that have incited hatred and violence for centuries, and led to the Holocaust. Education and understanding are a critical antidote to the spreading of misinformation and hate,” said Congresswoman Kathy Manning (NC-6), Co-Chair of the House Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Antisemitism. 

“We must never run away from the lessons of history’s ugliest chapters. It is crucial that our children learn about the history of the Holocaust,” said Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01). “Antisemitism has no place in our country. The HEAL Act will ensure that our children receive a comprehensive education on the Holocaust, empowering them to stand up to antisemitism and bigotry. I’m proud to co-lead this important legislation among a bipartisan group of colleagues.”

The bipartisan HEAL Act is being cosponsored by: Reps. Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), Michael McCaul (TX-10), Kathy Manning (NC-6), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1), Scott Peters (CA-50), Wiley Nickel (NC-13), Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon (PR-AL), Shontel Brown (OH-11), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-25), Dina Titus (NV-1), Jared Moskowitz (FL-23), Jimmy Panetta (CA-19), Haley Stevens (MI-11), Brad Sherman (CA-32), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL), Marc Veasey (TX-33), David Trone (MD-6), Frederica Wilson (FL-24), Deborah Ross (NC-2), Patrick Ryan (NY-18), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-1), Maria Elvira Salazar (FL-27), Randy Weber (TX-14), Jill Tokuda (HI-02), Grace Meng (NY-6), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Dan Goldman (NY-10), Donald M Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), Troy Balderson (OH-12), Brad Schneider (IL-10), Anna Eshoo (CA-16), Susan Wild (PA-7), Madeleine Dean (PA-4), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-8), Kim Schrier (WA-8), Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-5), Ronny Jackson (TX-13), Jim Himes (CT-4), Lloyd Doggett (TX-35), Yvette Clarke (NY-9), Neal Dunn (FL-2), Ritchie Torres (NY-15), David Kustoff (TN-8), Dean Phillips (MN-3), Nanette Barragán (CA-44), Darin LaHood (IL-16), Drew Ferguson (GA-3), Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Tom Kean, Jr. (NJ-7), Don Bacon (NE-2), David Valadao (CA-22), Claudia Tenney (NY-22), Seth Moulton (MA-6), Rashida Tlaib (MI-12), Troy Carter, Sr. (LA-2), Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-6), Darren Soto (FL-9), Andrew Garbarino (NY-2), Chrissy Houlahan (PA-6), Vern Buchanan (FL-16), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-10), and Greg Landsman (OH-1).

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.

“Studies have shown that Holocaust education is critically important – for raising awareness about where antisemitism can lead, for teaching respect for differences, and for reinforcing the fragility of democracy. That’s why ADL continues to support and invest in Holocaust education and urges federal and local governments to do the same. At a time when antisemitism is on the rise, we need to do more to educate young people before prejudice can take root. ADL applauds the introduction of the Holocaust Education and Antisemitism Lessons (HEAL) Act and its review of Holocaust education efforts in States, local educational agencies, and public elementary and secondary schools. We are grateful to Reps. Gottheimer, McCaul, Manning, and Fitzpatrick for leading this important bipartisan initiative and urge its swift passage,” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.

“As members of the Jewish community, our personal experiences make us keenly aware of the impact education plays on preventing the rising antisemitism across the globe. That is why Jewish Federations have long advocated for Holocaust education requirements in every state. But we also know that a requirement is only part of the solution – ensuring quality is another critical aspiration. The Holocaust Education and Antisemitism Lessons (HEAL) Act is an important next step in the multi-faceted efforts and Congressional commitment to eradicating anti-Jewish hate through education,” said Adam Teitelbaum, Associate Vice President, Public Affairs, Jewish Federation of North America (JFNA).

“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.

“AJC recently surveyed adults in the United States and found that only 53% of Americans over the age of 18 knew that approximately six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust. Knowing about the Holocaustcontributes to understanding and confronting this pernicious hate. There is no greater resource when it comes to Holocaust education than the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM). Congress should continue to support educators throughout the country and the USHMM in its mission to ensure the Holocaustis taught in an accurate and comprehensive manner,” said Julie Fishman Rayman, Senior Director of Policy and Political Affairs, American Jewish Committee.

“Thank you to Reps. Gottheimer, McCaul, Manning, and Fitzpatrick for spearheading this effort on Holocausteducation in the United States. We applaud this effort and urge the House to take this bill to a vote immediately,” said Nathan Diament, Orthodox Union Advocacy Effort.

“Education is one key to fighting antisemitism. Unless American students understand the dangers of anti-Jewish hatred and the horrors of the Holocaust that resulted from that hatred, we may fail to prevent a future in which antisemitism thrives, and a violent history could repeat itself. The HEAL Act will provide necessary understanding of curricula nationwide and strengthen the United States’ commitment to fighting antisemitism,” said Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

“B’nai B’rith International welcomes the introduction of the bipartisan HEAL Act at a time of rising anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. The fact that knowledge of the Holocaust continues to recede with each generation speaks to the exigency of educating young people about the dangers of anti-Semitic hatred. We thank Reps. Gottheimer and McCaul for leading this crucial bill and strongly urge other members of Congress to add their voices to this timely effort,” said Rabbi Eric Fusfield, Director of Legislative Affairs, B’nai B’rith International.

“One of the most important ways to learn about our collective responsibility to fight antisemitism, hatred and bigotry is to ensure that our children and future generations never forget the horror of the Holocaust. Hadassah remains proud to have been a driving force behind the Never Again Education Act (NAEA) in 2020. Today, we support the Holocaust Education and Antisemitism Lessons (HEAL) Act, which will identify gaps in Holocaust education and elevate effective practices for educators across the country who teach the history of the Shoah and the evils of intolerance. We are grateful for the leadership of Reps. Gottheimer, McCaul, Manning, Lee, Fitzpatrick, Sherman and Wasserman Schultz in bringing forward this important bill,” said Naomi Adler, CEO of Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America.

“The American Jewish Congress is proud to support the HEAL Act, a fundamental effort to strengthen the understanding of how our schools teach the lessons of the Holocaust and the effects of antisemitism to our students, the future leaders of our nation. In recent years, antisemitism has reached new heights, and measures like the HEAL act are going to be at forefront of stopping such hate in its tracks. Regrettably, too many states and local school districts do not have measures in place to adequately produce or provide a curriculum to their students on the Holocaust, a concerted effort to wipe out the Jewish people – and the worst genocide in human history. The HEAL Act will undoubtedly change that, and provide a vital light to ensure that the meaning of ‘never forget,’ rings tried and true – especially in the classroom. We thank Congressman Josh Gottheimer and Chairman Michael McCaul, Congresswoman Kathy Manning, and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, for their leadership and resolve on such a crucial issue. We urge their colleagues to follow suit and ensure the HEAL Act receives the timely attention and passage it deserves,” said Geoffrey Bendell, Director of Policy and Advocacy, American Jewish Congress.

“Jewish Women International offers its full endorsement of The Holocaust Education and Antisemitism Lessons (HEAL) Act of 2023. While the hatred directed against Jewish people is nothing new, in recent years the widespread, insidious antisemitic rhetoric and violence extremism against Jews has reached the highest number on record since ADL began tracking it in 1979. In our commitment to build a safer, more equitable world that is free of violence, we recognize how essential education is to combatting bigotry in all of its forms. We very much appreciate the work of the original bi-partisan co-sponsors for supporting this vital legislation,” stated in support from Jewish Women International (JWI).

“Almost 75 years after the Holocaust, only a few survivors of Hitler’s final solution remain.  JCPA is concerned that knowledge of the Holocaust is receding, particularly amongst younger generations. The need for Holocaust education is imperative to both combat growing antisemitism and to spur efforts to end and prevent ongoing and future genocides of any people.   We urge Congress to pass the HEAL Act (HolocaustEducation and Antisemitism Lessons Act)  to ensure that we can effectively engage the entirety of the US education system in being part of this very important effort, with the aim of making the world a safer place for all human beings,” said David Bohm, Jewish Council of Public Affairs Chair.

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