Historic Holocaust Remembrance Bill Passes NYC Council
At a Stated Meeting this afternoon, the City Council passed a historic bill to recognize International Holocaust Remembrance Day in New York City on January 27th, and to declare the entire week following as a citywide Holocaust Education Week.
Sponsored by Councilman Chaim Deutsch of Brooklyn, who is himself the child of Holocaust survivors, the bill aims to keep the memories of survivors alive as that generation is sadly dying out. Furthermore, as hate crimes rise and discord grows around the country, Deutsch stated, it is more important now than ever to teach children about the atrocities that occurred during the Holocaust.
Deutsch said, “If we want to equip the next generation with the tools they need to build a peaceful future, then we need to educate them about the consequences of prejudice and mistreating others. As it stands now, 66% of American millennials don’t know what Auschwitz was. Furthermore, 31% believe that 2 million or fewer Jews were killed during the Holocaust, and 45% could not even name one concentration camp. We are doing a disservice to our children if we do not ensure that they are taught about the six million Jews, including 1.5 million children, who were killed during the Holocaust.”
Deutsch, who also serves as Chairman of the City Council’s Jewish Caucus, held a hearing on this bill last week with Councilman Mathieu Eugene, who Chairs the Civil and Human Rights Committee. At the hearing, Councilmembers from different walks of life spoke about the importance of remembering the victims of the Holocaust, and the personal impact this had in their own lives. Survivors, children of survivors, community leaders, and students all spoke about their experiences, and why it is important to them that the Holocaust is taught in schools, and never forgotten.
As per the bill, January 27th will begin a week of Holocaust education in New York City, and Deutsch is leading efforts with his colleagues to visit schools around the City, often with survivors, to speak directly to students about the Holocaust. Organizations like Project Witness and the Museum of Jewish Heritage, both of which testified in support of Deutsch’s bill last week, are conducting educational efforts throughout the week.
Deutsch encouraged all New Yorkers to participate, saying, “I urge educators and parents to use this opportunity to broach this sensitive subject with their students and children. It is not just the responsibility of the Jewish people to preserve the memory of the Holocaust, it is the responsibility of every single person to do their part and bring awareness. As the generation that lived through the Holocaust is dwindling, it is more important than ever that we face the widespread lack of knowledge head-on. We cannot afford to lose the memories, and let the six million be forgotten.”
Councilmember Karen Koslowitz, Vice-Chair of the Jewish Caucus said, “Genocide is so monstrous that it is difficult to fully grasp the magnitude of the crime. Unfortunately, genocide has occurred too many times throughout the history of mankind. The Holocaust is beyond question, the most documented of all genocides. By committing to its study, we hope that the phrase “never again” will become a reality, not only for the Jewish people, but, for all peoples of this Earth.”
"I am proud of my Jewish heritage and I am beyond appreciative of the sacrifices made by my grandparents who fled Anti-Semitism in Europe. It is up to us to speak out against Holocaust deniers in the era of fake news. It is up to us to point out and teach the lessons of this genocide,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Resolution 673 makes January 27 an opportunity to remember the over 6 million souls that were taken, and the culture that was lost so that it never happens again to any group of people.”
"If we do not learn from the past, we are doomed to repeat it. With the resurgence of anti-Semitic attacks and hate crimes over the past three years, the recognition of international Holocaust Remembrance Day provides an opportunity to educate students about the dangers of bigotry, giving them insight into what can happen when we do not value the lives of those different from ourselves, “said Council Member Barry S. Grodenchik.
Council Member Rory Lancman said, “Understanding the horrors of the past is key to a peaceful future. It is critically important for future generations to learn about the atrocities of the Holocaust. I commend Council Member Deutsch and my colleagues in the Council for passing this important Holocaust Remembrance resolution today that will help ensure our children never forget.”
“At a time of rising anti-Semitism and hate speech, it is important we honor the memory of the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides, District 22. “We recognize International Holocaust Remembrance Day to not only say Never Forget, but also Never Again.”
Council Member Mark Treyger said, “As Chair of the City Council’s Committee on Education, a former teacher, a member of the City Council’s Jewish Caucus, and the grandson of Holocaust survivors and World War II veterans, I am a big believer in the critical need to ensure that our young people are taught about the horrors of the past so they are never repeated in the future. The numbers are sobering, and they show that we are not doing a good enough job educating our country’s young people about the millions who suffered and lost their lives during the Holocaust. With fewer and fewer Holocaust survivors around to share their experiences, we cannot afford to waste any time. I commend my colleagues and all of the survivors, their descendants, community leaders, advocates, and students who are working to ensure that the memories and the lessons learned are never forgotten.”
“The international nature of commemoration on January 27th communicates that Holocaust remembrance and education are global responsibilities,” saidMichael S. Glickman, President & CEO of the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. “The connectedness of our modern world, and the diversity of our local communities, makes this commemoration uniquely meaningful and we commend Councilman Deutsch for his leadership and vision.”
“Amud Aish Memorial Museum fully endorses Resolution 673, recognizing International Holocaust Remembrance Day in NYC (on 1/27) and to observe a citywide week of Holocaust education. We also would like to express our appreciation to Councilman Chaim Deutsch for sponsoring this bill and exerting tremendous effort in seeing it passed. Holocaust education continues to be relevant and vital in our times. Not only do we learn how not to treat others, and develop sensitivity and tolerance, we also learn about resilience and the human ability to withstand any challenge we and our children may encounter. Amud Aish Memorial Museum looks forward to participating in the citywide week of Holocaust education and to continue to be a resource to all communities,” saidMr. Elly Kleinman, Founder & President and Rabbi Sholom Friedmann, Director & CEO.
"The horrors of the holocaust is something that must be remembered by all. The rash of hate incidents in recent months served as an additional reminder of the importance to institute holocaust education programs among our youth, teaching them tolerance, acceptance and respect to all human beings." said Rabbi David Niederman, President of the UJO of Williamsburg and North Brooklyn. "We commend Councilman Chaim Deutsch, Chair of the NYC Council Jewish Caucus, and his colleagues for passing this resolution to promote the remembrance and education of this most-tragic chapter inflicting mankind."
“NYPD statistics confirmed that in 2018 the Jewish community in NYC was the biggest target of hate crimes- more than all other targeted groups combined. We commend CM Deutsch’s initiative in starting 2019 with the most powerful anti-hate tool there is: Education. The Simon Wiesenthal Center hopes that New Yorkers, whatever their background, will learn important life lessons from legacy of the Nazi Holocaust—it’s victims and its perpetrators. The SWC stands ready to be a resource for Councilman Deutsch’s crucially important and timely initiative,” said Michael D. Cohen, Eastern Director, Simon Wiesenthal Center.
“As the surviving community of eyewitnesses to the Holocaust dwindles it is imperative to preserve the lessons that they have taught us through their endurance and perseverance. I salute Councilman Deutsch for building an educational platform that will convey the darkness of hatred and prejudice, the survivors’ heroism in overcoming it, and their optimism for the future,” said Louis Welz, CEO, COJO Flatbush.
“The initiative of Resolution 673 by the city councilmember Chaim Deutsch to commemorate January 27th as the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, is crucial for New York City, for adults and especially for the younger generation who has to learn about what happened just 75 years ago, in order to prevent it from happening in the future,” said Ruth Lichtenstein, Hamodia Newspaper Publisher; Director of Project Witness, Educational Resource Center.
"As an organization dedicated to serving as the last surviving relative to Holocaust survivors, we know all too well that opportunities are fading fast for New Yorkers to learn, in person, from people who lived through it," said Sandy Myers, Vice President, External Relations and Communications at Selfhelp Community Services. "Resolution 673 is both timely and necessary to preserve the memory of the Holocaust, and to ensure that never again remains true, and I thank Council Member Deutsch for his leadership."
“We applaud Councilman Deutsch chair of The Jewish Caucus and all of the council-members involved in establishing this most meaningful Holocaust Remembrance Day for our city. As a grandchild of 4 Holocaust survivors the lessons I was always taught was to never forget those who were murdered and never give up on hope on humanity. Through remembrance we will teach tolerance and respect to future generations, and look forward to a brighter and peaceful future. Thank you Councilman,” said Moshe Brandsdorfer, Jewish Community Council of the Rockaway Peninsula.
"Holocaust education is extremely important and its impact is immeasurable. My first-hand informal Holocaust education was listening to countless stories of my grandmother risking herself every day in the concentration camps to find food that she could share with all the other prisoners. Looking back, it must have had a profound impact on me, as I ended up co-founding an organization that serves millions of emergency meals a year to needy New Yorkers", saidAlexander Rapaport, Executive Director of Masbia Soup Kitchen Network.
“As a representative of over 800 Holocaust survivors, through our special work at the Jewish Community Council of Canarsie and Project Lead in Queens, we applaud the NYC Council in establishing Holocaust Remembrance Day. The future is bright as a new generation of New Yorkers will better understand the roots of hatred and discrimination, as it pertains to the Holocaust. It is our moral obligation to develop a true awareness of the value of accepting others as they are,” said Rabbi Avrohom Hecht, JCC Canarsie.