Oregon Votes to Require Schools to Teach Holocaust

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Photo Credit: Flickr - Curtis Perry / Oregon is the most recent state to make Holocaust education mandatory in schools.

This Tuesday, the Oregon House of Representatives passed a bill unanimously that would require schools to teach students about the Jewish genocide and Nazi atrocities during the Holocaust.


The bill is now heading to Gov. Kate Brown for her signature. The legislation was created in honor of the Holocaust survivor Alter Wiener, who spent years in Auschwitz, and was killed this past December in a traffic accident.

The Oregon bill was pushed when Alter and 14-year-old student Claire Sarnowski who befriended Alter after hearing her speak, teamed up to testify before the Oregon State Senate to push for Holocaust education in Oregon.

These past months have seen a renewed effort for Holocaust education in schools in the wake of the antisemitic attacks at Synagogues in San Diego and Pittsburgh. Since February, 11 states have instituted laws calling for schools to implement Holocaust education in their curriculums and other states have followed suit – also recommending Holocaust education in their public schools.

Photo Credit: Flickr Mr. Kaya / Oregon Holocaust Memorial

On a nation-wide level, a bi-partisan effort has pushed the Never Again Education Act – a federal bill that would create grants for schools to teach about the Holocaust in their classrooms. You can also write your representative here in support of the bill.

According to a 2018 survey by claims conference, Holocaust awareness has greatly decreased, especially amongst young people. The survey found that 22% of millennials have not heard of or “are not sure if they have heard of” the Holocaust.

Oregon will prove to be an excellent test case to see if Holocaust knowledge amongst millennials increases now after the state’s Department of Education begins to implement programs across the state.