RELEASE: New Bipartisan Holocaust Education Legislation Introduced in House

Dec 22, 2022
Press

WASHINGTON, D.C.

The Holocaust Education and Antisemitism Lessons (HEAL) Act will examine Holocaust education efforts in public schools nationwide

Today, December 22, 2022, new bipartisan legislation — the Holocaust Education and Antisemitism Lessons (HEAL) Act of 2022 — is being introduced in the House by U.S. Representatives Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), Michael McCaul (TX-10), Kathy Manning (NC-6), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1), Brad Sherman (CA-30), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23), and Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18). The HEAL Act will require the U.S. Department of Education to conduct a study on Holocaust education efforts in public elementary and secondary schools.

The bipartisan HEAL Act will:

  • Require the U.S. Department of Education to conduct a study on Holocaust education efforts in public schools nationwide and to report to Congress on:
    • Identifying states and local school districts that require and do not require Holocaust education as part of the curriculum;
    • Assessing quality of Holocaust education provided by public schools;
    • Assessing the types and quality of instructional materials used to teach;
    • Examining the duration and comprehensiveness of courses/lessons; and,
    • Analyzing how students’ knowledge is assessed.

Antisemitism continues to be on the rise in the United States. The Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) 2021 Audit of Antisemitic Incidents 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. 

“It is critically important not just to remember the victims of the Holocaust killed by the Nazis in gas chambers and concentration camps simply for being Jews, but also because our history teaches us that we have a responsibility to confront bigotry, hatred, and intolerance wherever it can be found,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “Therefore, we cannot — and must not — ignore the stunning rise in antisemitism and Holocaust denial around the world and, increasingly, here at home in the United States. The mounting evidence that knowledge about the Holocaust is beginning to fade should also alarm us all. As Elie Wiesel said: ‘Indifference, after all, is more dangerous than anger or hatred.’ With this commonsense bipartisan legislation I’m introducing, both Democrats and Republicans are coming together to ensure we’re working to stem the rising tide of hate and to improve Holocaust education in schools nationwide.”

“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. 

“It is imperative that as a nation, we learn from history. We cannot allow religious bigotry and antisemitism to persist,” said Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1), Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Antisemitism. “Reviewing our schools’ education standards and analyzing Holocaust education efforts in elementary and secondary schools are crucial as we aim to educate and raise our children to never forget the lessons of the past and to stand up to bigotry.”

“We are living through the most dramatic spike in antisemitism that we’ve seen in decades. Last year, there were nearly 3,000 recorded incidents of antisemitic assault, harassment, and vandalism – and there are many more incidents that go unreported. This is a critical moment for action and I’m proud to help introduce the HEAL Act, which will help ensure that every American has the opportunity to learn the history of the Holocaust and understand just how dangerous the rising antisemitism and bigotry we’re experiencing today truly is,” said Congressman Brad Sherman (CA-30).

“Substantively and accurately learning about the Holocaust and lessons of unchecked antisemitism is a critical way to ensure that future generations understand the devastating facts about genocide and can guard against similar atrocities from ever happening again,” said Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23). “I’m proud to be joining my colleagues in introducing this critical legislation that will help us take account of the work ahead of us – by examining the status of Holocaust education efforts in our schools.”

“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. At a time when antisemitism is on the rise domestically and when pop culture figures are spreading hateful tropes, we need to do more to educate young people before prejudice can take root. ADL welcomes the Holocaust Education and Antisemitism Lessons (HEAL) Act of 2022 and its review of Holocaust education efforts in primary and secondary schools. We are especially grateful to Reps. Gottheimer and McCaul for leading this important initiative,” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.

Find bill text for the bipartisan HEAL Act here.

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