State, federal policies strive to mandate Holocaust education

This week is the first official Holocaust Awareness Week in Texas

SAN ANTONIO – “Never again” — those two words refer to the Holocaust, the murder of 6 million Jews and 5 million others.

Monday marked 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz. It also marked two significant steps for the state and country to bring Holocaust education to the forefront.

This week is Texas’ first official Holocaust Remembrance Week, mandating all Texas schools to educate students about the Holocaust.

That piece of legislation started with four San Antonio women.

"They wanted this legislation to pass, so they went from representative to representative to find someone to sponsor the bill. Sen. Menendez did sponsor it, and it passed unanimously in the Texas state legislature," said Julie Tzucker, education coordinator for the Holocaust Memorial Museum of San Antonio, which is a program within the Jewish Federation of San Antonio.

Every year, this week in January will be Holocaust Remembrance Week throughout the state.

“Hate crimes are on the rise, unfortunately, and antisemitism, especially. So we feel it’s important to teach this history, not necessarily between Germans and Jews, but as a human story, to teach our children to be upstanders and see themselves in the faces of strangers so we can create a better future without genocide in it,” Tzucker said.

Tzucker said during this new designated week, she has already seen an influx of students and visitors wanting to learn about the Holocaust.

She said it's a critical time for legislation like this to be passed. Many Holocaust survivors have died or are in their 90s. Very few are still willing and able to travel to do speaking engagements to share their crucial stories.

The Holocaust education mandate could also soon be nationwide.

On Monday, the Never Again Education Act was passed in the U.S. House of Representatives with a vote of 393-5. It now moves onto the Senate, where many members have already vocalized their support.

Act calling for Holocaust education in schools nationwide proposed in US House

The law would provide $10 million in federal funding over five years for things like books, workshops or transportation to museums.

"There's a large number of Americans who don't know this history, or they think it's a belief rather than a fact," Tzucker said. "These are indisputable facts, and this is one of the most well-documented crimes in history, and we can learn a lot from this."

Anyone who cannot make it to the museum can take a virtual tour and watch presentations on the Holocaust Memorial Museum of San Antonio website.

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