Governor Hochul Signs Legislation to Honor and Support Holocaust Survivors in Educational, Cultural and Financial Institutions

In August, at The Museum of Jewish Heritage in NYC, Governor Kathy Hochul signed a legislative package to honor and support Holocaust survivors in educational, cultural, and financial institutions. The legislative package will help ensure schools are providing high-quality Holocaust education, require museums to acknowledge art stolen by the Nazi regime, and require the New York State Department of Financial Services to publish a list of financial institutions that voluntarily waive fees for Holocaust reparation payments. 


“As New Yorkers, we are united in our solemn commitment to Holocaust survivors: We will never forget,” Governor Hochul said. “These are individuals who have endured unspeakable tragedy but nonetheless have persevered to build lives of meaning and purpose right here in New York. We owe it to them, their families, and the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust to honor their memories and ensure future generations understand the horrors of this era.”  


Legislation (A.472C /S.121B) will help ensure that New York schools are properly educating students on the Holocaust. The legislation directs the New York State Education Department to determine whether school districts across the state have met education requirements on instruction of the Holocaust, which have been required by law since 1994.It will also require NYSED to identify how non-compliant schools will close gaps in knowledge of the Holocaust in schools.   


Legislation (A.3719A/S.117A) requires museums to acknowledge the origins of art pieces that were stolen from Europeans during the Nazi era, primarily from Jewish families. During World War II, the Nazis looted some 600,000 paintings from Jews, enriching the Third Reich and eliminating all vestiges of Jewish identity and culture. Museums across New York display this stolen art with no recognition of or transparency around their origins, and this legislation will require museums to disclose information on the history of these stolen art pieces.   


Legislation (A.9338/S.8318) requires the New York State Department of Financial Services to maintain and update a list of financial institutions that waive wire fees associated with Holocaust reparations payments. About one-third of Holocaust survivors in the U.S. live in poverty. This legislation will ease unnecessary burdens that banks may place on Holocaust survivors that receive reparation payments.   


 Consul General of Israel in New York Ambassador Asaf Zamir said, “This historic bill to further Holocaust education will cast light where there is now darkness, empathy where there is terrifying ignorance. Knowledge of the largest scale operation of persecution and genocide is waning, and hate has risen unchecked for too long. Protecting our history is important to the survival of not only every group targeted by genocidal fascism, but to sustaining the health of democracy itself. We thank Senator Anna Kaplan, Assemblywoman Nily Rozic and Governor Kathy Hochul for advocating to not only survey the state of Holocaust education in schools, but to facilitate its continued improvement and address its worrying decline amongst today’s youth.”  


Museum of Jewish Heritage Chairman of the Board of Trustees Bruce Ratner said, “We thank our Governor and the state Legislature for today’s action. Sadly, studies have shown that far too many youth and young adults in our state — and across our nation — are unaware of the Holocaust, have never visited a Holocaust Museum, or spoken with a Holocaust survivor. We must do all in our power to ensure that the Holocaust never fades from our memory. Teaching and learning about the Holocaust not only commemorates the victims but helps to create a forum for examining the history and evolution of antisemitism at a time where we continue to witness xenophobia, unfolding genocides, the ongoing refugee crisis, and threats to democratic values. As an institution committed to always remembering the Holocaust, education holds the key to individual and collective responsibility to create a better, safer society.”  


CEO of UJA-Federation of New York Eric S. Goldstein said, “It has never been more important for students in New York to learn about the atrocities of the Holocaust. This legislation authorizes the State Education Department to conduct a survey identifying which schools are teaching this required subject matter and is a crucial step in ensuring that the critical lessons of the Holocaust are transmitted across our community. UJA-Federation of New York thanks Governor Hochul for signing this significant legislation into law, and for the tireless efforts of Senator Kaplan and Assemblywoman Rozic to make sure this bill passed the Legislature.” 


ADL NY/NJ Regional Director Scott Richman said, “The need to evaluate how Holocaust education is implemented in our schools could not be more urgent with antisemitism and all forms of hate on the rise. ADL documented a total of 416 antisemitic incidents last year in New York State as detailed in ADL’s annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents. That is an incredible 24% increase over the year before. Thanks to this important legislation signed today by Governor Hochul, New York can review how it addresses this hate in our state through the important tool of Holocaust education.”