BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELL-DOMENECH | Congressmember Carolyn Maloney joined Jewish advocacy groups Monday at the Center for Jewish History to address a national rise in anti-Semitism and announce the reintroduction of her Never Again Education Act.
The intent of the bipartisan bill is to help teachers across the United States instruct Holocaust history.
“We are at a dangerous moment in time,” Maloney said. “Anti-Semitism is on the rise around the world and here at home and the memory of the Holocaust is fading for far too many Americans.”
According to the Anti-Defamation League’s 2017 annual report, anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. spiked roughly 60 percent between 2016 and 2017.
This past October, 11 Jewish worshipers were slain by a right-wing gunman at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. More locally, last November, the office of a Columbia University professor was vandalized with swastikas. The same month, a pair of swastikas were sprayed onto a concrete platform in the Hudson River near W. 72nd St. Swastikas and “KKK” symbols were also written on a newspaper box at W. 100th St. and Central Park West.
Both incidents happened a month after Dermot Shea chief of detectives of the New York City Police Department, announced that anti-Semitic hate crimes were on the rise in the city. Half of all hate crimes in the city last year were anti-Semitic incidents, according to the N.Y.P.D.
Maloney’s bill would create the federal Holocaust Education Assistance Program Fund, which would be able to receive private donations. The fund would finance grants to public and private middle schools and high schools to help teachers develop and improve Holocaust education programs.
The funds could go toward textbooks, teacher seminar training, field trips and transportation of Holocaust survivors to visit schools. The funds would also help create a Holocaust education Web site that would serve as resource center for teachers.
Among those at the center, at 15 W. 16th St. in Chelsea, on Monday to announce the bill’s reintroduction was Rabbi Arthur Schneier. The Vienna-born Holocaust survivor is the senior rabbi of Park East Synagogue and the president and founder of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation.
“We must educate our children,” Schneier said, “about the dehumanization, the burning of books and synagogues, which led to the Holocaust that claimed the lives of 6 million Jews, including 1.5 million children, as well as my family in Auschwitz, Theresienstadt and Lublin.
“Anti-Semitism is a cancer that was in remission and now has metastasized.”