International Holocaust Remembrance Day will be commemorated in New York City on Sunday, January 27th, and that week will be a citywide Holocaust Education Week, per a bill passed Thursday by the New York City Council.
The bill was sponsored by Councilman Chaim Deutsch of Brooklyn, himself the child of Holocaust survivors. Deutsch said the bill aims keep the memories of survivors alive and to teach children about the atrocities that occurred during the Holocaust, as hate crimes rise across the country.
“If we want to equip the next generation with the tools they need to build a peaceful future, then we need to educate them about the consequences of prejudice and mistreating others,” said Deutsch. “As it stands now, 66% of American millennials don’t know what Auschwitz was. Furthermore, 31% believe that 2 million or fewer Jews were killed during the Holocaust, and 45% could not even name one concentration camp. We are doing a disservice to our children if we do not ensure that they are taught about the six million Jews, including 1.5 million children, who were killed during the Holocaust.”
During Holocaust Education Week, Councilmembers will visit schools around the city, often with survivors, and speak to students about the Holocaust. Organizations such as Project Witness and the Museum of Jewish Heritage are conducting educational efforts throughout the week.
Mrs. Ruth Lichtenstein, publisher of Hamodia and director of Project Witness, said the Holocaust commemoration is “crucial for New York City, for adults and especially for the younger generation, who need to learn about what happened just 75 years ago, in order to prevent it from happening in the future.”
“Holocaust education is extremely important and its impact is immeasurable,” said Alexander Rapaport, Executive Director of Masbia Soup Kitchen Network. “My first-hand informal Holocaust education was listening to countless stories of my grandmother risking herself every day in the concentration camps to find food that she could share with all the other prisoners. Looking back, it must have had a profound impact on me, as I ended up co-founding an organization that serves millions of emergency meals a year to needy New Yorkers.”