Assemblywoman Rozic’s Holocaust Education Bill Signed into Law by Governor

New law will improve holocaust education standards in New York schools

Queens – Today, New York State Assemblywoman Nily Rozic commended Governor Kathy Hochul for signing into law her bill to improve Holocaust education in New York schools. The new law requires the Commissioner of Education to create a survey to assess the state of Holocaust education in New York in order to ensure that students are being taught about the Holocaust as required by an existing State law in place since 1994. Any school district whose Holocaust education curriculum does not meet the state’s standards will be required to provide a corrective action plan. The law takes effect immediately.

A 2020 study by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany documented a concerning lack of knowledge about the Holocaust among New Yorkers ages 18-39. The study found that 28% of New Yorkers in that age group believed the Holocaust is a myth or has been exaggerated and that 60% did not know that 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust. Even more concerning, New York led all states with 19% of respondents who believed Jews caused the Holocaust.

Assemblywoman Nily Rozic said, “Never Again must serve as a call to action, not just empty words we say. As antisemitism rises across New York and Holocaust survivors age, this new law will ensure that New York students are taught about what happens when hatred goes unchecked. I am grateful to Governor Hochul for signing this package of legislation, and to all the organizations and advocates whose tireless work brought us to this moment.”

State Senator Anna M. Kaplan said, “With antisemitism on the rise, and Holocaust misinformation exploding around the world, it's never been more important that we learn the lessons of the Holocaust, and ensure our next generation knows about our history, no matter how dark or difficult the conversation may be. It's why I've fought tirelessly to pass the Holocaust Education Bill, so that we can ensure this vital history is being taught to students in New York, and so that we may never forget what happened. I'm so grateful for my partnership with Assemblymember Nily Rozic, for the leadership of Governor Kathy Hochul, and for the countless advocates and organizations who fought alongside me since day one of this important effort.”

Kupferberg Holocaust Center Executive Director Laura Cohen said, “The point of effective Holocaust education is to convey how this one wretched part of history didn't take place in some distant time and place. The Holocaust happened to people in our communities and continues to resonate in tragic ways, because there is a continuum from antisemitism, hatred, and scapegoating to mass atrocities and genocide. Holocaust education curricula in schools are essential to making these connections and inspiring students to create change in our society.”

Consul General of Israel in New York Ambassador Asaf Zamir said, “This historic bill to further Holocaust education will cast light where there is now darkness, empathy where there is terrifying ignorance. Knowledge of the largest scale operation of persecution and genocide is waning, and hate has risen unchecked for too long. Protecting our history is important to the survival of not only every group targeted by genocidal fascism, but to sustaining the health of democracy itself. We thank Senator Anna Kaplan, Assemblywoman Nily Rozic and Governor Kathy Hochul for advocating to not only survey the state of Holocaust education in schools, but to facilitate its continued improvement and address its worrying decline amongst today’s youth.”

Museum of Jewish Heritage Chairman of the Board of Trustees Bruce Ratner said, “We thank our Governor and the state Legislature for today's action. Sadly, studies have shown that far too many youth and young adults in our state – and across our nation – are unaware of the Holocaust, have never visited a Holocaust museum, or spoken with a Holocaust survivor. We must do all in our power to ensure that the Holocaust never fades from our memory. Teaching and learning about the Holocaust not only commemorates the victims but helps to create a forum for examining the history and evolution of antisemitism at a time where we continue to witness xenophobia, unfolding genocides, the ongoing refugee crisis, and threats to democratic values. As an institution committed to always remembering the Holocaust, education holds the key to individual and collective responsibility to create a better, safer society.”

CEO of UJA-Federation of New York Eric S. Goldstein said, “It has never been more important for students in New York to learn about the atrocities of the Holocaust. This legislation authorizes the State Education Department to conduct a survey identifying which schools are teaching this required subject matter and is a crucial step in ensuring that the critical lessons of the Holocaust are transmitted across our community. UJA-Federation of New York thanks Governor Hochul for signing this significant legislation into law, and for the tireless efforts of Senator Kaplan and Assemblywoman Rozic to make sure this bill passed the Legislature.”

American Jewish Committee Long Island Regional Director Eric Post said, “In a time of rising antisemitism and hate crimes, this law is needed to help ensure that all students in New York properly learn about one of the most tragic and pivotal moments in world history. Governor Hochul has been an unstinting supporter of the Jewish community and we thank her for supporting this important measure.”

Jewish Community Relations Council CEO Gideon Taylor said, “At a time where 60 percent of New Yorkers aged 18 to 39 are unaware that six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis, I congratulate Governor Kathy Hochul for her leadership and for signing historic legislation today that ensures our children will Never Forget the bitter lessons of the Holocaust. Sincere gratitude goes to the authors of this legislation, Assemblywoman Nily Rozic and Senator Anna Kaplan. Also of critical importance are the other pieces of legislation being signed today as they relate to financial protections surrounding our Holocaust Survivors. Thank you to Assemblymen Simcha Eichenstein and Charles Lavine as well as Senator Zellnor Myrie for showing us that we must always honor the tremendous sacrifices endured by our Holocaust survivors.”

ADL NY/NJ Regional Director Scott Richman said, “The need to evaluate how Holocaust education is implemented in our schools could not be more urgent with antisemitism and all forms of hate on the rise. ADL documented a total of 416 antisemitic incidents last year in New York State as detailed in ADL's annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents. That is an incredible 24% increase over the year before. Thanks to this important legislation signed today by Governor Hochul, New York can review how it addresses this hate in our state through the important tool of Holocaust education.”

Director of the Emil A. and Jenny Fish Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Yeshiva University Dr. Shay Pilnik said, “The Holocaust teaches us powerful lessons on the moral and physical lows that a society guided by antisemitism, racism and hatred can be led to. And it obligates us to remember, to educate, to act – to ensure that these evils find no home in our state and country. These are lessons that must be taught in every middle school and high school in New York State.”

StandWithUs Regional Director Avi Posnick said, “StandWithUs thanks Governor Hochul for signing Bill A472C/S121A into law. This legislation surveys Holocaust education to bring to it up to a meaningful standard for all New York students. At a time when antisemitic crimes are spiking, we are grateful for Governor Hochul’s leadership in the fight against this scourge. This bill follows Governor Hochul's recent proclamation to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Working Definition of Antisemitism to help address the ‘intolerable levels of antisemitism’ in ‘the nation and New York.’ Together the measures stress the critical importance of learning not only about but also from the Holocaust.”