Americans are schockingly uninformed about the Holocaust. A new academic initiative could change that.
Yeshiva University and Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, recently announced a partnership to improve education on the Holocaust in K-12 schools, universities, and other institutions.
A 2020 study conducted by the Claims Conference found that 'almost half of Americans (45%) cannot name a single [concentration camp]' and reported an even higher percentage for Millennials.
Yeshiva University (YU) and Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center (WHRC), recently announced a partnership to improve education on the Holocaust.
The Mar. 6 announcement acknowledges that anti-Semitism is on the rise while younger generations report not knowing basic facts about the genocide of six million Jews committed by the Nazis during World War II.
The partnership will address these knowledge gaps by focusing on “curriculum building, resource sharing, educator training and event design,” according to the announcement shared by Northjersey.com.
Brittany Hager McNeely, an academic administrator at YU’s Emil A. and Jenny Fish Center for Holocaust and Genocide, told Campus Reform that the passage of time since the Holocaust presents the risk that it could “fade from memory, making way for antisemitic acts and words of violence to continually increase.”
“The liberation of the Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp was 78 years ago and we are faced with the passing of thousands of Holocaust survivors,” she continues.
The New York City-based Fish Center will work with the WHRC in Jerusalem with the goal of “encourag[ing] the study of the Holocaust in schools, universities, communities and other institutions.”
Shortly before announcing the partnership, the Fish Center developed a certificate program for “public and private school educators, administrators, and librarians in grades 6-12” that emphasizes Holocaust education.
“This graduate course of study will include modules on the history of the Holocaust and pedagogical strategies and practices, as well as modules which focus on the use of art and media to effectively teach the Holocaust,” McNeely told Campus Reform.
A 2020 study conducted by the Claims Conference found that, “[w]hile there were over 40,000 concentration camps and ghettos in Europe during the Holocaust, almost half of Americans (45 percent) cannot name a single one.” The study shows that the percentage is higher for Millennials.
A “growing number of states … require some form of Holocaust and genocide studies programs in their middle and high school classrooms,” according to the announcement.
Former New York State Sen. Anna Kaplan cited the Claims Conference study in a press release when her Holocaust education bill was signed into law. Out of the 50 states surveyed, New Yorkers demonstrated the least knowledge about the Holocaust.
Students, professors, and advocacy organizations are reporting anti-Semitism at New York’s colleges and universities, including at City University of New York (CUNY) system campuses, where administrators have treated students and faculty who criticize Zionism as though they are engaging in free expression.
Kaplan’s press release notes anti-Semitism and “Holocaust misinformation exploding around the world.”
“[I]t’s never been more important,” she continues, “that we learn the lessons of the Holocaust, and ensure our next generation knows about our history, no matter how dark or difficult the conversation may be.”
Campus Reform contacted all relevant parties listed for comment and will update this article accordingly. The best efforts were made to contact former Sen. Kaplan.