JBLS Letter Regarding Holocaust Education
Holocaust denial is an ever increasing problem. In recent years we have seen school districts throughout the nation minimizing teachings about the Holocaust.
The Justice Brandeis Law Society, 9th Judicial District is primarily comprised of Jewish attorneys and judges within the 9th Judicial District of New York – Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester counties. We foster Jewish values and speak against instances of antisemitism and intolerance. Many of our members are descendants of Holocaust survivors.
As widely reported, a Tennessee school board recently voted to ban Art Spiegelman's “Maus,” which in 1992 became the first graphic novel to win the Pulitzer Prize. (Mario Anzuoni/Reuters). Given the rise in antisemitism throughout our country, this is particularly disturbing as Maus graphically depicts how Spiegelman’s family was killed in the Holocaust. Spiegelman’s book is targeted toward young adults and depicts the Jewish people as mice and the Nazi people as cats. It is based on conversations between the author and his father, a Holocaust survivor.
This is only one example of attempts to hide or distract from the realities of the Holocaust. While some people may contend that materials such as Maus should be banned or changed because they are too graphic or contain obscenities, the fact is that teachings about the Holocaust are, of their very nature, uncomfortable and graphic. Let us not forget: six million Jews were murdered for no reason other than their religion. An attempted eradication of a population. What the Jewish people suffered during the Holocaust was obscene and horrifically graphic. Young people need to be educated about its truth.
Holocaust denial is an ever increasing problem. In recent years we have seen school districts throughout the nation minimizing teachings about the Holocaust. It is reported that there is a significant decrease in young people who are familiar with the events of the Holocaust. Some people take the position that if books about the Holocaust are available, there must also be books with the opposing viewpoint. As we know all too well, this atrocity is a historical fact, not an opinion. There is no opposing viewpoint. The diminished focus on Holocaust education trivializes the horror and deprives the world of educated individuals who can refute the deniers.
We support Holocaust education which includes books like Maus; listening to the stories of survivors and liberators; and trips to Holocaust museums. Education needs to be more than saying “remember” and “never again.” It needs to be an understanding and education of what occurred in the past to prevent a recurrence.
Please join us in supporting truthful and focused Holocaust education.
JBLS 9th JD
(The original letter can be downloaded in PDF format here.)