A resolution requiring the state Education Commissioner to conduct a study of New York’s over 700 school districts and submit a report assessing the effectiveness of Holocaust teachings will be introduced to the City Council, state Assemblywoman Nily Rozic announced on Thursday, Jan. 27.
Bill A472A was introduced by Rozic, who thanked Council members Eric Dinowitz (D-Bronx) and Marjorie Velázquez (D-Bronx) for highlighting the issues at the city level to make it clear that hate has no place in New York — past, present or future.
“It is imperative that we teach our students the dangers of antisemitic attitudes and actions, and that we teach them how to combat Holocaust distortion and trivialization,” Rozic said.
The lawmakers’ announcement comes on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which commemorates the victims of the Holocaust that resulted in the murder of 6 million Jewish people, along with countless members of other minorities by Nazi Germany between 1933 and 1945. In 2005, the United Nations General Assembly established Jan. 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day commemorating the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp.
According to Velázquez, the increase in antisemitic attacks across the globe, and specifically in New York City, are a reminder that the bigotry of the past still exists in the present.
“This Holocaust Remembrance Day is not only about reflecting on the horrors of history, but understanding the continued need to educate those who are ill informed of the past. Knowledge and compassion are our greatest tool in combating hate, which is why I fully support legislation to ensure our children are taught these moments of history,” Velázquez said.
Dinowitz, chair of the City Council’s Jewish Caucus, said they’re in a period of time when there is disturbing increase in antisemitic hate crimes and a troubling rise in the number of people who believe the Holocaust did not even happen.
“This bill will help ensure our children are learning about this terrible period in our history, and taking those lessons to ensure the horrors of the past are not repeated,” Dinowitz said.
According to a 2020 50-state study by the Claims Conference, New York is among the states with the lowest Holocaust knowledge scores, with 58% of millennials and Gen Zers being unable to name a single concentration camp. The study also found that 60% of young people did not know that 6 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust.
“In a world rife with antisemitism, racism and hatred, education is our most powerful tool to open the minds and hearts of the young,” said Dr. Shay Pilnik, director of the Emil A. and Jenny Fish Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Yeshiva University. “I cannot thank Assembly member Nily Rozic and Council members Eric Dinowitz and Marjorie Velázquez enough for forwarding our mission at the Fish Center of ensuring that future generations never forget the damage, violence and heartbreak that hate and intolerance visit upon the world.”