FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 26, 2021
PHOENIX – Arizona students would be required to learn about the atrocities of The Holocaust and other genocides under a bill that cleared its first House committee today. Rep. Alma Hernandez has reintroduced House Bill 2241 this session after an identical bill that cleared the House last session when the session ended prematurely because of COVID-19. The bill passed the House Education Committee today 10-0 and is now poised for a floor debate..
The Arizona Department of Education has since added Holocaust and genocide education to its high school social studies and world history curriculum standards, but Hernandez said it's important that the changes be codified in law so that lessons of The Holocaust and its impact on humanity are never lost. Holocaust survivors who testified in Tuesday's committee agreed.
“It is critical to ensure future generations are educated on the atrocities of the Holocaust and other genocides,” said Hernandez, D-Tucson. “It is alarming and shocking how little knowledge American millennials have on the Holocaust, and the increase of anti-Semitism proves the importance of public education.”
Dr. Alex White, a 97-year-old Holocaust survivor from Scottsdale, provided written testimony to the Education Committee about his five years living under Nazi occupation as a teenager in Poland. White, a retired physician and U.S. Army veteran, was freed from a camp in Sudetenland in May of 1945.
"Germany had a constitution similar to the United States guaranteeing various freedoms even under some kings, but a constitution can only survive any onslaught when the people are reliable guardians of its provisions," White write. "A day after tomorrow on January 27th, the anniversary of liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp,
it will only be fitting for you, our elected representatives, to vote for this proposed educational legislation."
Hernandez, who is Jewish, has worked closely with the Phoenix Holocaust Association on this and a number of other issues. She recently coordinated with the Arizona Department of Health Services to secure COVID-19 vaccination appointments for 40 Arizona Holocaust survivors, six of whom received their first dosage last week. Hernandez is now working to schedule vaccine appointments for all Holocaust survivors in Pima County.
“The survivors are getting older and older, many passing away,” said Hernandez. “We owe it to them and their memories to make sure students learn about what they endured. Thank you to everyone who has been involved in this bill, especially the many survivors that testified last year.”