WASHINGTON - A large bipartisan group of 60 lawmakers introduced new legislation — the Holocaust Education and Antisemitism Lessons (HEAL) Act.
The bipartisan bill was introduced during International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) led the legislation, which was co-led by the 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).
If signed into law, the bipartisan HEAL Act will direct the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to conduct a study on Holocaust education efforts in public schools nationwide, to determine which states and school districts require or do not require Holocaust education in their curriculum; Identify the standards and requirements schools mandate on this Holocaust education; Identify the types and quality of instructional materials used to teach.
“There is mounting evidence that knowledge about the Holocaust is beginning to fade. The survey of Americans between 18 and 40 also found that 48% could not name one concentration camp or ghetto.”Josh Gottenheimer
Stopping knowledge of the Holocaust from fading away
“There is mounting evidence that knowledge about the Holocaust is beginning to fade,” Gottheimer said in a statement. A 2020 survey measuring Holocaust awareness in the US found that roughly two-thirds of those asked did not know how many Jewish people died, his office said. “The survey of Americans between 18 and 40 also found that 48% could not name one concentration camp or ghetto.”
A recent analysis also found that the majority of US states do not have laws requiring public school students to learn about the horrors of the Holocaust.
“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.
“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.”
Several major Jewish organizations, including the Jewish Federations of North America, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, B’nai Brith and the Orthodox Union praised the new legislation.
At a time when antisemitism is on the rise, we need to do more to educate young people before prejudice can take root,” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. “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.”
Forgotten Heroes of the Holocaust Congressional Gold Medal Act
Additionally, United States Sens. Bill Hagerty (R-TN) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) introduced the Forgotten Heroes of the Holocaust Congressional Gold Medal Act, a bill to honor 60 World War II-era diplomats from the United States and around the world in recognition of their bravery and heroism during the Holocaust. The legislation would award a Congressional Gold Medal to certain US and foreign diplomats who risked their lives and careers to save Jews fleeing Europe.”
“The Hagerty-Kaine legislation would posthumously award a Congressional Gold Medal to these diplomats who took heroic actions to save Jews fleeing Nazi Germany, including issuing passports and travel visas and setting up safehouses and getaways to hide Jews from Nazi authorities,” they explained in a statement. “In many instances, these courageous diplomats jeopardized the lives of themselves and their own families, as well as their careers, in order to save others during the Holocaust.”