On the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, a new and important initiative was launched to expand Holocaust education across the United States.
The Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) “Learn To Never Forget,” is a public awareness and advocacy campaign targeted at “improving and expanding Holocaust education in schools across the United States,” according to a statement by the ADL.
As part of the #LearnToNeverForget campaign, ADL will be lobbying for the passage of H.R. 603, the Holocaust Education & Antisemitism Lessons Act (H.E.A.L.) in Congress and advocating for the adoption of state and local Holocaust education legislation. To advance legislation, ADL will be raising awareness among policymakers and supporters, building coalitions with diverse partners, organizing grassroots advocacy meetings with lawmakers, gathering petition letters to deliver to legislators, publishing research findings, and providing recommendations for Holocaust education curricula along with coalition partners.
Research shows that Holocaust education is beneficial
Research proves that Holocaust education is an effective, proven lever to combat antisemitism in society. A national survey that was conducted in 2020 showed that Holocaust education in high school reflects gains not only in historical knowledge but also manifests in cultivating more empathetic, tolerant, and engaged students. The results also indicated that exposure to Holocaust survivor testimony is strongly associated with numerous positive outcomes in early adulthood including higher critical thinking skills and a greater sense of social responsibility.
And yet, in 2021, CNN reported that 31 states don’t require schools to teach about the Holocaust. According to the ADL, currently, only 25 states have mandatory Holocaust studies.
“Studies have shown that Holocaust education builds understanding and empathy in young people,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “At a time of historically high antisemitic incidents and attitudes, we must make sure future generations learn the history of antisemitism and the importance of confronting hate when young people encounter it in their own lives,” Greenblatt said.
“Studies have shown that Holocaust education builds understanding and empathy in young people.”ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt
A recent survey by the Claim Conference found that there are critical gaps both in awareness of basic facts as well as detailed knowledge of the Holocaust in the US, and there was a broad-based consensus that schools must be responsible for providing comprehensive Holocaust education. Seven out of ten Americans (70%) said in this survey that fewer people seem to care about the Holocaust than they used to.
A new ADL survey revealed that more than 90% of Americans believe high school students should learn about the Holocaust, with 87% agreeing that high school students should learn about antisemitism through history and today.