WASHINGTON – Today, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) introduced bipartisan legislation — the Holocaust Education and Antisemitism Lessons (HEAL) Act — along with Congressman Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), Congresswoman Kathy Manning (D-N.C.), and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.). The legislation, which was cosponsored by more than 60 members, would direct the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to conduct a study on Holocaust education efforts in public schools nationwide.
“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 McCaul. “This bill will help improve Holocaust education so future generations of Americans are equipped and empowered to stand up for what is right.”
“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 Congressman Gottheimer. “We all have an obligation to teach future generations about this evil. We have an obligation to try to heal our communities. We have an obligation to teach about this stain of hatred, so that it never happens ever again. That is why I’m very proud to be introducing the HEAL Act — bipartisan legislation asking the Holocaust Memorial Museum to conduct a study on Holocaust education efforts in public schools nationwide. Given the rise of antisemitism and Holocaust denial here at home and around the world, we need leaders willing to stand up now, and stand together against antisemitism, and all forms of bigotry, hatred, and intolerance, which have no place in our country or world.”
“It is vitally important to teach students about the history of the Holocaust and antisemitism and to empower them to recognize and confront hate whenever they see it. As we face rising antisemitism, it is critical to expand education nationwide about the history and unique nature of antisemitism, the conspiracy theories and scapegoating that have incited hatred and violence for centuries, and led to the Holocaust. Education and understanding are a critical antidote to the spreading of misinformation and hate,” said Congresswoman Manning.
“We must never run away from the lessons of history’s ugliest chapters. It is crucial that our children learn about the history of the Holocaust,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick. “Antisemitism has no place in our country. The HEAL Act will ensure that our children receive a comprehensive education on the Holocaust, empowering them to stand up to antisemitism and bigotry. I’m proud to co-lead this important legislation among a bipartisan group of colleagues.”
There is mounting evidence that knowledge about the Holocaust is beginning to fade, as antisemitic incidents are on the rise. A 2020 survey measuring Holocaust awareness in the U.S. found that roughly two-thirds of those asked did not know how many Jewish people died. The survey of Americans between 18 and 40 also found that 48% could not name one concentration camp or ghetto.
According to recent analysis, a majority of U.S. states do not have laws requiring public school students to learn about the horrors of the Holocaust.
The bipartisan HEAL Act will direct the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to conduct a study on Holocaust education efforts in public schools nationwide, which will:
- Determine which states and school districts require or do not require Holocaust education in their curriculum;
- Determine which states and school districts offer optional Holocaust education;
- Identify the standards and requirements schools mandate on this Holocaust education;
- Identify the types and quality of instructional materials used to teach;
- Identify the approaches used by schools to assess what students learn; and
- Report the results of the study to Congress.
The bipartisan HEAL Act has earned support from: the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Jewish Federation of North America (JFNA), the American Jewish Committee, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC), B’nai B’rith International, Hadassah, the American Jewish Congress, Jewish Women International (JWI), the Jewish Council of Public Affairs, the National Council of Jewish Women, Inc., Agudath Israel of America, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), and The Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey.