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Arizona Gov. Ducey signs Holocaust, genocide education

Soon after liberation, camp survivors from Buchenwald's "Children's Block 66"—a special...
Soon after liberation, camp survivors from Buchenwald's "Children's Block 66"—a special barracks for children.((Source: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum))
Published: Jul. 9, 2021 at 10:04 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- After a delayed process due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Doug Ducey officially signed the Holocaust and genocide education bill on Friday.

“Arizona will continue to stand with and support the Jewish community,” said Gov. Ducey. “This bill works to educate our youth on the atrocities of the Holocaust and other genocides. Tragedies like this must never be allowed to happen again. This bill is a step in the right direction to fight antisemitism in our state, but our work is far from over. We have seen a rise in crimes against individuals in several communities, and we must do more to prevent any additional harm and suffering. Antisemitism is real. I would like to thank Representative Alma Hernandez for her many years of work on this important issue, as well as all the survivors who played a crucial role in making this bill a reality.”

In a press release from Gov. Ducey’s office, antisemitism has been on the rise following recent incidents in Queen Creek, Chandler, and in Tucson. According to a Pew Research Center study done in 2019, less than half of those surveyed could correctly answer multiple-choice questions about the number of Jewish people who were killed during the Holocaust or how Hitler rose to power, making it even more important to educate.

Arizona House Bill 2241 was part of a three-year effort by the Phoenix Holocaust Association (PHA), educators around the state and the Department of Education to make Holocaust and other genocide education a requirement for students. The bill will require students between seventh and 12th grades to learn about the Holocaust and other genocides at least twice. Through this, students can learn about genocides in Armenia, Rwanda, and Bosnia, and the genocide of Native Americans, in addition to the Holocaust.

“The Phoenix Holocaust Association has worked tirelessly these past several years to ensure that this education bill was passed,” said PHA President Sheryl Bronkesh. “It is especially significant as there are several of Arizona’s Holocaust survivors who testified before the committee, and who have witnessed this bill become a law. Sadly, there were others who have died in the past years who are not here to rejoice in this milestone.”

The Arizona Board of Education made it a rule for students to learn about the Holocaust at least twice back in October 2020 before the bill process was complete. PHA says Rep. Alma Hernandez, a Democrat representing Legislative District 3, reintroduced the bill in January 2021. The House of Representatives passed the bill in February. After that, the bill passed with a 27-to-2 vote in the Senate before reaching Ducey’s desk.

“This was a community effort, and I am proud to see it finally get done. This legislation is an important step to honor both those lost in the Holocaust and the survivors who have worked tirelessly to tell their stories,” said Representative Alma Hernandez. “I’m grateful to Governor Ducey for signing this bill into law. Knowing that all Arizona students will learn about the Holocaust gives me hope. We must teach the atrocities of the past to ensure it never happens again.”

The task force behind the Holocaust and genocide bill in Arizona is comprised of members from PHA, Northern Arizona University, Arizona State University, and University of Arizona, survivors who live in Arizona, Jewish History Museum Tucson, Bureau of Jewish Education, Phoenix Holocaust Association, Arizona Jewish Historical Society and many more. The resources and toolkits for teachers can be found here.

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