Gov. Hochul signs package of bills to support Holocaust survivors in education, culture

Originally published in CNY Central

New York Governor Kathy Hohcul signed a package of legislation Wednesday to honor and support Holocaust survivors in educational, cultural, and financial institutions.

The bills will help make sure schools are providing high-quality Holocaust education, require museums to acknowledge art stolen by the Nazi regime, and require the New York State Department of Financial Services to publish a list of financial institutions that voluntarily waive fees for Holocaust reparation payments.

“As New Yorkers, we are united in our solemn commitment to Holocaust survivors: We will never forget,” said Gov. Hochul. “These are individuals who have endured unspeakable tragedy but nonetheless have preserved to build lives of meaning and purpose right here in New York. We owe it to them, their families, and the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust to honor their memories and ensure future generations understand the horrors of this era.”

The first bill signed by the governor will ensure that schools across the state are properly educating students on the Holocaust.

The legislation directs the New York State Education Department (NYSED) to determine whether school districts across the state have met education requirements on the instruction of the Holocaust, which has been required by law since 1994.

The bill also requires the NYSED to identify how non-compliant schools will close gaps in knowledge of the Holocaust in classrooms.

"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,” said State Senator Anna Kaplan.

The second bill requires museums to acknowledge the origins of art pieces that were stolen from Europeans during the Nazi era, primarily from Jewish families.

During World War II, the Nazis looted about 600,000 paintings from Jews, enriching the Third Reich and eliminating all traces of Jewish identity and culture.

Museums across the state display this stolen art with no recognition of, or transparency around their origins, and this bill will require museums to disclose that information.

The third bill requires the New York State Department of Financial Services to maintain and update its list of financial institutions that waive wire fees associated with Holocaust reparations payments.

About one-third of Holocaust survivors in the U.S. live in poverty, according to the governor.

This legislation will ease unnecessary burdens that banks place on Holocaust survivors that receive reparation payments.