Massachusetts Senate passes Holocaust and genocide education bill

The bill is in response to worry from lawmakers, amid an increase in anti-Semitism, that students were lacking Holocaust education.

Dan Verbin, Canada ,

State House in Boston, Massachusetts
State House in Boston, Massachusetts
iStock

The Massachusetts State Senate passed a bill on Thursday requiring students in middle schools and high schools to learn about the history of genocide and the Holocaust.

The bill is in response to worry from lawmakers, amid an increase in anti-Semitism, that students were lacking Holocaust education, Masslive reported.

The bill calls for a Genocide Education Trust Fund, which would fund genocide education material and professional development. School and districts would also be able to apply for grants.

The bill will now move to the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

In a statement, senators said that school districts would submit lesson plans and genocide curriculum programs to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education every year.

“As a Jewish woman and the daughter of a World War II veteran who saw the horrors of a concentration camp firsthand, I believe it is our responsibility to ensure we educate our children on the many instances of genocide throughout history so that they can learn why it is so important that this history is not repeated,” Senate President Karen Spilka said on Thursday.

According to Senator Michael Rodrigues, chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, the measure will use education as a means to combat anti-Semitism and hate.

Rodrigues praised senators for taking “bold action” and passing the legislation in order to “never forget the lessons of the past.”

“To ensure that the atrocities of the past never again scar our world, we must act to ensure young people are meaningfully educated about the history of genocide and armed with the knowledge to stand against its root causes, today and into the future,” Rodrigues said.

Senator Barry Finegold said that genocide education was vital for Massachusetts residents, listing the Holocaust, along with the Armenian Genocide, and genocides in Rwanda and Bosnia as examples.

“When people forget about genocide, history repeats itself,” Finegold said. “We all have a duty to speak out and make sure that violent atrocities never happen again.”

The Anti-Defamation League’s New England chapter praised the legislation and Senate leaders on Twitter.

New England ADL director Robert Trestan said that the measure was crucial in light of recent incidents of anti-Semitism in the state, including a suburban Boston high school football team that came under fire in early 2021 when it was revealed they had been using Holocaust and Jewish phrases to call plays – “Auschwitz,” “rabbi” and “yarmulke” among them – for at least the last decade.

“Massachusetts now has an opportunity to use the power of education to address hate through this essential initiative for Holocaust and genocide education in the Commonwealth,” Trestan said.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)



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