Holocaust education now mandatory in Romanian schools

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Romanian Jews being deported to Transnistria. (Yad Vashem

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Romania’s Senate passed a law on Monday which requires high schools and trade schools in the southeastern European country to teach students about the Nazi genocide of millions of Jews during World War II.

While some are celebrating the new policy as a victory for Holocaust remembrance and a critical teaching opportunity to encourage multicultural tolerance, some Romanians say the law is unnecessary and goes too far.

Beginning in 2023, secondary educational institutions will introduce a curriculum about the Holocaust and the Jewish people that will developed by the Romanian Education Ministry and the Elie Wiesel Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania.

Silviu Vexler, a Jewish lawmaker who helped push the bill, was quoted by JTA as saying that the law is focused on “countering intolerance and extremism” among youth.

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The law passed 107 to 13, with one abstention. The fourth largest party in Romania, the right-wing Alliance for the Union of the Romanians (AUR), voted against the law.

AUR MP Claudiu Tarziu said that by strictly focusing on Jews, the law discriminates against “our fellow citizens who belong to other minorities.”

He added that Romania has not had a “serious antisemitic case” in the last 20 years, and that the law was contrary to “common sense” and Romanian and EU laws.

In March 2021, Romanian Jewish actress Maia Morgenstern received a murder threat via email in which a man said he planned to kill her “by throwing her into a gas chamber.”

The email was signed “on behalf of the AUR,” but members of the political party said the sign-off was an attempt to smear the AUR and that they condemned the content of the note.

Maximillian Marco Katz, a Jewish activist, told Radio Free Europe that antisemitism is common in Romania, but only draws attention when it is leveled at a celebrity.

“It takes a public person for society to be shocked. When it happens to the [unknown] Jew, nobody says anything,” Katz said.

“There are fewer than 2,000 Jews in Romania, and you have plenty of antisemitism.”

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