Four legislators who played a key role in the passage recently of Connecticut’s recent Holocaust and genocide education legislation will be honored on Sunday, Dec. 16.
The JFACT Fund will pay tribute to State Senators Gayle Slossberg and Toni Boucher, and State Representatives Andrew Fleischmann and Themis Klarides, at the organization’s annual “Night at the Theatre” event to be held at the Westport Playhouse. The evening will also feature a performance of the acclaimed play “The Pianist at Willesden,” which tells the true and inspirational story of Lisa Jura, a young Jewish musician whose dreams are interrupted by the rise of the Nazis.
“The Jewish community is so thrilled that we were able to pass this crucial legislation. However, we could not have done it without these four advocates. We are so excited to host this night where we get to see this amazing play and then honor these legislators,” said JFACT Fund Executive Director Michael Bloom in announcing the honorees.
The four legislators were instrumental in passing Public Act 18-24 entitled “An Act Concerning the Inclusion of Holocaust and Genocide Education and Awareness in the Social Studies Curriculum,” which took effect July 1, 2018.
They each explained the importance of the groundbreaking bill and expressed gratitude for the JFACT Fund honor.
“Given the rise in acts of discrimination and hate over the past few years – both in our state and our nation – and young people’s lack of knowledge about where this can lead, I felt a deep sense of obligation to ensure that students learn about the Holocaust and genocide before getting a high school diploma. It was a pleasure to work with JFACT and other advocates to pass this new law, and I’m deeply honored by JFACT’s recognition,” said Fleischmann.
“Adding Holocaust and genocide studies to our schools’ curriculum is vital to our understanding of history. Studies and surveys consistently show that young people, in particular, lack basic knowledge when it comes to these historical events. We must never forget what happened in these cataclysmic episodes. I deeply appreciate and am humbled to be honored for this work,” said Klarides.
“With the alarming rise of antisemitism and other hate crimes in our country and across the globe, it is more important than ever that we teach the lessons and the history of the Holocaust. Not only do our students need to understand what happened, they need to know that genocide happened both before and after the Holocaust. This educational requirement will ensure that our young people are taught two essential elements: First, they will learn the facts and history of the Holocaust and other genocides. Second, they will learn to recognize and address the process that allowed for genocide so they can be leaders in preventing the rise of hate and violence against others. I cannot imagine a more urgent educational need than encouraging our greater humanity towards one another and am proud to have led this effort with my colleagues to pass this legislation,” said Slossberg.
“I have been working on this issue for a long time and this legislation has been years in the making. The disturbing rise in antisemitic incidents in our state shows how important it is,” Boucher said. “I truly believe that if young people in our state learned about the Holocaust, learned how small acts of racism and hate grew into the greatest human travesty in history, we would not be seeing this increase in antisemitic and racist incidents. If we are to prevent such atrocities from ever happening again, we must teach every generation about the depths of depravity that can result from hate. We can never let this curriculum disappear again.”