Pennsylvania State Sen. Anthony H. Williams and State Rep. Brendan F. Boyle, co-sponsors of recently introduced legislation that will mandate Holocaust and Genocide education for middle and high students in the Commonwealth’s public, parochial and private schools, will be the keynote speakers for Philadelphia’s annual memorial ceremony for the 6 million Jewish men, women and children who lost their lives during the Holocaust.
This year’s community event is scheduled for Sunday, April 7, at 1 p.m., at the Monument to the Six Million Jewish Martyrs, 16th Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia.
“It is crucial that our young people have an understanding of the implications of the Holocaust and other genocides,” Boyle said, adding that “learning from our past is the only way to ensure that this terrible part of history never repeats itself.”
The legislation suggests curriculum that incorporates the history of the Third Reich and the concentration camps while encouraging teachers to help students connect this tragedy to modern-day acts of genocide and the devastating impact of these acts of racial and religious intolerance. Information about appropriate curricular materials, along with in-service training, would be made available to teachers.
Williams said the law “will give students the seeds, and frankly, the power, to push back on hate speech and rhetoric which is untrue.” If this legislation is passed, Pennsylvania would be the sixth state in the nation to enact a law mandating Holocaust education in its schools.
The theme for this year’s event, which will also feature remarks by the Honorable Yaron Sideman, Consul General to Israel for the Mid-Atlantic Region, is “I Don’t Live in the Past but the Past Lives On in Me.” The program will also feature performances by Nashirah-The Jewish Chorale of Greater Philadelphia, under the direction of Jonathan Coopersmith.
The ceremony begins with a March of Children, accompanied by a violin solo by Philip Kates of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and will include a poignant reading of “Unto Every Person There Is a Name,” by members of B’nai Brith Liberty Region. Sign language interpretation will be available for those who are deaf or hearing-impaired.
If rain is predicted, the ceremony will be held at 1:30 p.m., at Congregation Rodeph Shalom, 615 N. Broad St., Philadelphia. A change in venue will be announced on KYW NewsRadio 1060 on April 7.
Preceding the ceremony, students in grades 7-12, representing Hebrew High school programs, will participate in the Dorothy Freedman Memorial Conversation with a Survivor program. This program will take place from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Moore College of Art and Design, 20th Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Reservations are required.
Both the Ceremony and Conversation Program are sponsored by the Memorial Committee for the Six Million Jewish Martyrs of the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and the Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors of Philadelphia.
Free bus transportation is available for both the Conversation With a Survivor program and the Memorial Ceremony if ordered by groups in advance. For information and reservations, contact Beth Razin at [email protected]  or call 215-832-0536.