As the instances of anti-Semitic rhetoric and attacks rise in New York and across the country, a new state law is examining the quality of Holocaust education in the Empire State.
State Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, a Queens lawmaker who sponsored the legislation, said “even though we say Never Again, it’s sort of a nice phrase to say, we really need to put those words into action.”
The Holocaust Education Bill, which was sponsored by Rozic and state Sen. Anna Kaplan in the Senate, was signed into law by Gov. Hochul in August. Last month, state Education Department Deputy Commissioner Angelique Johnson-Dingle sent out a Holocaust Instruction Survey to school district superintendents throughout the state. The superintendents must submit their responses by Thursday, Nov. 10. If a school district does not submit a response or are not sufficient, the state Education Department will implement a “corrective action plan” to address any shortcomings.
A 2020 study found that over a third of young New Yorkers either don’t believe the Holocaust happened or was greatly exaggerated. Rozic said more needs to be done to educate young people who may not have direct experience with a Holocaust survivor and adds “it’s not ancient history. It’s fairly recent history” that shouldn’t be forgotten.
This comes as high profile athletes and artists have used their platform to say or share anti-Semitic content. Rozic argues that when people with large platforms “spew anti-Semitic hate and say it’s just words, they are misinformed at best,” and adds “expressing hate, including anti-Semitism, over and over again, whether it is blatant or not leads to dehumanization.” Rozic says the hateful rhetoric “quickly devolves into violence.”