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On December 1 and 8, 2020, national and statewide Jewish organizations gave proponent testimony on SB 372 to the Ohio Senate Finance Committee.  

Below are selected quotes from their testimonies. SB 372, with a bipartisan cosponsor list of 18 senators, led by Senator Michael Rulli, would create the Holocaust and Genocide Memorial and Education Commission and the Holocaust and Genocide Memorial and Education Office to serve the Commission.  

Included in the goals of the Commission are to gather and disseminate Holocaust and genocide information throughout Ohio, advise and educate the Governor, General Assembly, and Ohio departments and agencies on Holocaust and genocide memorial and education, and review and approve grants.

More information can be found here.

Broad Support for SB 372

 

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Testimony presented in-person by Howie Beigelman, Executive Director, on December 1, 2020

"The very kind of hatred and antisemitism that led to the Holocaust never really disappeared, even after the Allied victory and the Nuremberg Trials. Recently though, it has stepped back into the light.  What this commission will do is help shine the bright light of liberty and tolerance on such hatred and on those who espouse it. There has never been a more critical time for such sunlight."

"But it is not only the Jewish community or only Ohioans who support this legislation and the commission it creates. As an addendum to this testimony you will see the many community and human rights organizations that have joined together to support it as well."

"While there are many bills in both chambers that gain bipartisan consensus, the number of cosponsors for this across party lines is deeply moving and showcases another critical truth: Holocaust remembrance is not a Jewish issue just as antisemitism is not a Jewish problem. The failings of civilized nations and liberal democracies in they ears leading up to Hitler’s Final Solution and in the years of World War II itself require soul searching and a commitment to learning these lessons lest we repeat them by every country in the community of nations."

"The proposed commission leverages and mobilizes these cultural, educational, and community assets across the state in a unified way to educate about the horrors of the Holocaust across the length and breadth of our 88counties, in our K-12 schools, through Ohio’s colleges and universities, in partnership with our houses of worship and community organizations, and more."

"It will be a chance to use methods and programs that work for Ohio, to give teachers the chance to gain mastery of this complex subject, to provide opportunities for museums and historical centers throughout the state to engage the public, and, of course, to complement existing civic treasures such as the Ohio Holocaust & Liberators Memorial just outside these doors."

Full text here.

"More than three-fifths of those polled did not know that 6 million Jews were killed. (To bring this home to Ohio, 36 percent of Ohioans in these age cohorts believed two million or less Jews were killed in the Holocaust).(http://www.claimscon.org/millennial-study/)"

"What is important here is not merely that there is a gap in Americans’ knowledge of history.  To be sure, that is a problem. It is rather, that a seminal event like the Holocaust which so vividly demonstrates how fragile democracy is—Hitler staged no coup—is not understood. Neither have many Americans assimilated the lesson of how quickly a civilized nation can descend to mass murder on an unimaginable scale. And, while “never again” became a popular slogan after the Holocaust of European Jewry, Rwanda happened, Yugoslavia happened, and Syria happened. The list, unfortunately, goes on."

Full text here.

Written testimony provided by Lee C. Shapiro, Regional Director, AJC Cleveland, and Cathy Heldman, Regional Director, AJC Cincinnati, on December 1, 2020

"To that end, Hadassah is proud to have contributed to efforts to pass the Never Again Education Act in the 116th Congress, which helps ensure that educators have greater resources available to teach the substantial lessons of the Holocaust.  

"Continuing this mission, we’re glad to support Senate Bill 372 – another important step forward to bringing essential awareness and education to young people about the lessons of the Holocaust and genocide."

Full text here.

Written testimony provided by Carol Ann Schwartz, National Secretary, on December 1, 2020

"Due to the pandemic, HHC now hosts its weekly Holocaust Speaker Series online – giving Holocaust survivors the platform to reach thousands digitally with their testimony. We are used to getting comments about how transformational these experiences are, but we have been surprised to see comments like, 'I read things that said it didn’t happen,[after hearing the speaker] now I know the story.' Exposure to this history makes a difference and Senate Bill 372 would ensure that Ohioans have greater exposure to the Holocaust and its lessons."

"At HHC, we have the privilege to work with hundreds of educators and thousands of students, through tours of the museum, educator professional trainings, and programs, and we see firsthand the profound impact that Holocaust education can have on young Ohioans and the teachers who guide them. Senate Bill 372 could enhance that impact throughout the state."

Full text here.

Written testimony provided by Sarah Weiss, Executive Director/CEO, on December 1, 2020

"SB 372 is being introduced at a particularly timely point in Ohio history. Ohio, as well as the United States as a whole, is experiencing rates of anti-Semitism that we’ve never seen before, according to James Pasch, Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) (https://www.adl.org/news/press-releases/antisemitic-incidents-hit-all-time-high-in-2019 ). As Deborah Lipstadt, PhD, historian and Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University said in a presentation to NCJW/CLE members and guests on November 24, 2020, 'Anti-Semitism is a threat to democracy; it may start with the Jews, but it never ends there...' It is the morally correct position to take to oppose anti-Semitism and all forms of hate. It’s not just about history but can teach our children about values as well."

Full text here.

Written testimony provided by Susan Reis and Erinn Stark, Co-SPA of Ohio, on December 1, 2020

"We, the adults in the room, are responsible to provide our youth the tools to combat their own internal demons, but also to acknowledge hate around them, in their communities and around the world. From our Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, to our countless Moriah Films’ productions; the Simon Wiesenthal Center creates educational tools to reach the masses. Our regional office in the Midwest, will work with the Ohio schools, elected officials, professionals, and community members to teach about instances of racism, hate, and anti-Semitism. Our office is working with the Illinois State Board of Education in updating their curriculum and we would make the same resources available to the Ohio State Board of Education."

"It is our duty to not only remember the perilous horror of the holocaust, but we must also educate generations as injustices and genocides continue to occur.  As Mr. Wiesenthal said in a meeting with then-President Jimmy Carter, 'There is no denying that Hitler and Stalin are alive today...they are waiting for us to forget, because this is what makes possible the resurrection of these two monsters.'"

Full text here.

Written testimony provided by Alison Pure-Slovin, Director, Midwest Region, on December 1, 2020

AJC

"In an average year, approximately 10,000 students come through our doors -- we wish it could be 100,000 more, because within our walls are stories that lift history out of textbooks and into real life, sharing real life memories of snowball throwing, sunbeam chasing children and adults who survived the Holocaust to bear witness for the next generation. This is one of the most meaningful ways students can experience history, by meeting a person connected to that historical event, connecting past to present."

"What we do alone is good. What we can do together is great. What we can do with the support of the State of Ohio is limitless."

Full text here.

Written testimony provided by Dahlia Fisher, Director of External Relations, on December 1, 2020

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Ohio History Connection

Written testimony provided by James Pasch, Regional Director-Cleveland Office, on December 8, 2020

Testimony provided by Burt Logan, Executive Director & CEO, on December 8, 2020

Full text here.

Full text here.