Northeast Times

Lawmakers want Holocaust taught in Pa. schools

State Sen. An­thony Wil­li­ams and state Rep. Brendan Boyle are both hope­ful that their le­gis­la­tion re­quir­ing the teach­ing of the Holo­caust, gen­o­cide and hu­man rights vi­ol­a­tions will be­come law.

Wil­li­ams and Boyle spoke at last week’s meet­ing of the Rhawn­hurst Nat­ur­ally Oc­cur­ring Com­munity.

Boyle, who will be run­ning for Con­gress next year, is a board mem­ber of the Holo­caust Aware­ness Mu­seum and Edu­ca­tion Cen­ter, loc­ated at the Klein JCC Branch, at 10100 Jam­is­on Ave. The board ar­ranges for Holo­caust sur­viv­ors to speak at Phil­adelphia-area schools.

At present, five states — New Jer­sey, New York, Illinois, Flor­ida and Cali­for­nia — re­quire Holo­caust in­struc­tion.

“I’m try­ing to change that,” Boyle said.

Boyle said teach­ing the sub­ject mat­ter is im­port­ant be­cause there are Holo­caust den­iers and be­cause most chil­dren don’t know this his­tory of Nazi Ger­many from 1933-45. In ad­di­tion, many Holo­caust sur­viv­ors are dy­ing of old age.

The law­maker re­called a Jew­ish schol­ar who said, “The road to the Holo­caust was paved with in­dif­fer­ence.”

“It’s im­port­ant that we do this,” Boyle said.

Boyle, who re­called study­ing the Holo­caust as a stu­dent at Car­din­al Dougherty High School, said great­er know­ledge of that era will help young people to make sure that it hap­pens “nev­er again.”

Wil­li­ams and Boyle both urged NORC mem­bers to con­tact their state rep­res­ent­at­ives and sen­at­ors to urge them to sup­port the le­gis­la­tion.

The bills are in the Sen­ate and House edu­ca­tion com­mit­tees.

Wil­li­ams, who is ex­pec­ted to run for may­or in 2015, spoke of anti-Semit­ism on col­lege cam­puses.

Be­sides not know­ing about the Holo­caust, many school chil­dren don’t know about Mar­tin Luth­er King Jr. or more mod­ern epis­odes of gen­o­cide in Africa, ac­cord­ing to Wil­li­ams.

“While it’s a simple bill, it’s a very power­ful bill,” he said.

Sen. Joe Scarnati, the Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity lead­er, has ex­pressed in­terest in push­ing the bill for a vote.

“My hopes are high,” Wil­li­ams said.

State Rep. John Sabat­ina Jr., who also at­ten­ded the meet­ing, is a co-spon­sor of Boyle’s bill. He be­lieves Wil­li­ams has the clout in Har­ris­burg to make the bill be­come law.

Wil­li­ams be­came emo­tion­al when a man told him how much he liked the movie 42, which chron­icled Jack­ie Robin­son’s rise to be­come the first black play­er in Ma­jor League Base­ball. 

“For you to say that means the world to me,” he said. Among those in at­tend­ance was Rhonda Fink-Whit­man, whose moth­er is a Holo­caust sur­viv­or. Fink-Whit­man has writ­ten a book, 94 Maid­ens, a nov­el based on true events of the Holo­caust. The book is avail­able at amazon.com, barnes­and­noble.com and 94­maid­ens.com

In oth­er news from the May 23 meet­ing, held at Con­greg­a­tions of Ner Zedek syn­agogue:

The first Holme Circle Com­munity Day is set for Sat­urday, June 1, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Im­macu­late Mary Home, at 2990 Holme Ave.

The day will in­clude a pig roast and car show. Naz­areth Hos­pit­al will of­fer blood pres­sure screen­ings. Home De­pot will present a chil­dren’s work­shop. Mu­sic­al en­ter­tain­ment will be provided by disc jockey Neil McGlynn.

The rain date is Sunday, June 2.

Vo­lun­teers are needed for North­east Philly Fights Hun­ger, an ef­fort sched­uled for Sunday, June 9, at 9:30 a.m. at Tarken Play­ground, at 6250 Fron­ten­ac St. (near Levick Street).

In­di­vidu­als will de­liv­er in­form­a­tion on food re­sources to homes of seni­or cit­izens. Light re­fresh­ments will be served. 

For more in­form­a­tion, con­tact Noelle Dames, of the Co­ali­tion Against Hun­ger, at 215-430-0555, Ext. 108 or ndames@hun­ger­co­ali­tion.org

The Samuel Ta­bas House, at 2101 Strahle St., will host lunch and board and card games on Tues­day, June 11, from noon to 3 p.m. The cost is $1.

For trans­port­a­tion, call Elaine at 215-320-0351, Ext. 4.

Rhawn­hurst NORC will hold its next lunch­eon meet­ing on Thursday, June 27, at noon at the Samuel Ta­bas House. ••

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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