Fighting hate: New program at the Museum of Jewish Heritage will teach students about the Holocaust

School Chancellor David Banks at a podium inside the Museum of Jewish Heritage
Schools Chancellor David Banks at the Museum of Jewish Heritage on May 23, 2024.
Barbara Russo

As antisemitism continues to rage amid the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, a new public-private program will soon be available to help NYC school children learn about the history of the Holocaust and ways to combat antisemitism.

Schools Chancellor David Banks, City Council Member Julie Menin (D-Manhattan) along with other elected officials and Jewish advocates announced Thursday at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in Battery Park City a $2.5 million initiative to teach kids about this horrific world event in a way books and traditional learning can’t.

“You can’t learn about the Holocaust from a textbook, you just can’t,” Menin said. 

The Holocaust Education School Tours program will launch in the fall and provide an immersive curriculum for eighth-grade public school students that focuses on the history of antisemitism and propaganda, as well as factors that led to the Holocaust. Over the next three years, the museum will expand its school-group tour program, hire additional education staff, facilitate discussions and provide resources for teachers to include in their classroom curriculum. 

woman at a podium at the museum of Jewish Heritage
Council Member Julie Menin (D-Manhattan)

The initiative also aims to foster opportunities for students to reflect on the relevance of historical events to issues of today, Menin, who launched the program alongside the museum, the NYC Council Jewish Caucus and Gray Foundation, said.

“It is completely unacceptable that we’ve seen a 300% spike in antisemitism around the city of New York,” the council member said. “Eighth grade is the absolute right age to learn about the Holocaust. There’s a recent study that says 34% of Millennials and Gen Z either think the Holocaust was a myth or exaggerated.”

a red blouse on exhibit at the Museum of Jewish Heritage
Gad worn by Marita Radulescu, on exhibit at the museum. Marita Radulescu and her family were nomadic Kalderash, a group of Romani people of central Europe, who were also persecuted and racialized by the Nazis. Marita took this handmade blouse with her when she and her family were deported to Transnistria in 1942.Collection of the Museum of Jewish Heritage

Antisemitism since Oct. 7, 2023

Following the surge in antisemitic incidents since the Oct. 7, 2023, terror attacks on Israel, demand for Museum of Jewish Heritage programs for students and teachers has doubled, program organizers said. In March, the DOE partnered with the museum to develop new resources for teachers to address questions students might have about the Holocaust, antisemitism and related current events. 

“In the fight against antisemitism, it will take us all—schools, community organizations, cultural institutions, leaders in government, and more. Banks said. “It is critical that we educate our students about the Holocaust, and we are proud to be longtime partners with the Museum of Jewish Heritage in this important work.”

Menin, who is the daughter and granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, first proposed the idea for the program soon after the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel, stressing the need to educate children about these important topics. 

“It’s so important to teach our most precious resource—our students—about what happened in the Holocaust so we can make sure these events never happen again,” she said.

The Holocaust Education School Tours program will allow the museum to serve over 85,000 eighth grade students over three years, all free of charge.  


teddy bear artifact at the Museum of Jewish Heritage
Eva Hozer’s teddy bear, on exhibit at the museum. Eva Hozer’s teddy bear which wears a handmade sweater, traveled with her when her family couldn’t secure visas and so placed the 10-year-old on a Kindertransport. Kindertransports were operations to evacuate Jewish children from Nazi-occupied Europe.Credit: Gift of the Holzer Family. Museum of Jewish Heritage

“As we witness a troubling resurgence of Holocaust denial and antisemitism around the world, it has never been more critical to ensure that younger generations are equipped with the knowledge and understanding of the Holocaust,” Jack Kliger, president and CEO of the museum, said.

The Gray Foundation provided $1 million in funding for the initiative. In 2022 and 2023, the foundation also supported funding for the museum’s Courage to Act: Rescue in Denmark exhibition, which tells the story of the rescue of Danish Jews during the Holocaust.