Oregon passes law mandating schools teach about the Holocaust


(JTA) — Oregon will require its public school students to learn about the Holocaust and other genocides.

Gov. Kate Brown signed a bill on Monday initiated by a 14-year-old girl who had struck up a friendship with a 92-year-old survivor. Claire Sarnowski, from suburban Lake Oswego, met Alter Wiener four years ago when she attended one of Wiener’s talks about surviving the concentration camps. Wiener died last year after he was struck by a car.

The measure mandates the instruction in response to spikes in anti-Semitic incidents across the country, CNN reported Tuesday.

Beginning in the 2020-21 term, schools must provide such teaching to “prepare students to confront the immorality of the Holocaust, genocide, and other acts of mass violence and to reflect on the causes of related historical events.” Schools also must encourage cultural diversity and emphasize the importance of protecting international human rights, according to the bill.

Sarnowski told lawmakers earlier this year that Holocaust education should be required in all schools to ensure history doesn’t repeat itself.

“Learning about genocide teaches students the ramifications that come with prejudice of any kind in society,” she said.

Eleven other states require Holocaust education in schools, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Washington state’s governor signed a law in April that “strongly encourages” teaching the Holocaust.

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