Holocaust Studies

Senate bill mandating Shoah education stalls in Assembly


The state Senate last week unanimously passed a bill to have the state Education Department tudy — and how — school districts teach their students about the Holocaust. As the legislature prepared to adjourn its session, the bill was stalled in the Assembly.

The Senate bill was introduced by Elaine Phillips of Port Washington, its Assembly companion by Nily Rozic of Queens and Chuck Lavine of Glen Cove.

A 2018 survey by the Conference on Jewish Claims Against Germany found that 31 percent of Americans, and 41 percent of millennials, believe that two million or fewer Jews were killed in the Holocaust — the actual number is around six million. A 2017 Anti-Defamation League Report found that a quarter of Americans never heard of the Holocaust, and one-fifth who did thought it was a hoax. 

According to the bill, the education commissioner would “conduct a study regarding courses of study on the Holocaust within the state,” focusing on which school districts offers courses on the genocide. It would also review each districts’ teaching guidelines on the subject.

“We as a nation have an obligation to remember and honor the lives of those murdered and to prevent one of the worst calamities in the history of mankind from happening again,” said Sen. Todd Kaminsky of Long Beach, a co-sponsor of the bill.

This is the second year the act has passed the state’s upper chamber. Phillips introduced it last year after an Oswego County English teacher asked students to write an essay arguing for or against the Holocaust, to “analyze the issues, provide [their] Nazi point of view for our against the Final Solution and why, and thoroughly explain your support or opposition to the Solution.”