Governor signs bill ensuring Holocaust taught in Oregon schools

Gov. Kate Brown signs Senate Bill 663 into law Monday, July 15, 2019. (Photo: Dan McCarthy/KATU News)

A new law ensures the Holocaust will always be taught in Oregon schools.

Gov. Kate Brown signed Senate Bill 663 into law Monday morning.

The bill requires that the Holocaust and genocide be taught to age-appropriate students, starting at the beginning of the 2020 school year.

“This has been a longtime vision of our survivor community and of the Oregon Jewish Museum Center for Holocaust Education,” said Eva Aigner, a Holocaust survivor.

Survivors of the Holocaust spoke to the bill’s impact on students.

Lakeridge High School sophomore Claire Sarnowski first reached out to legislators about creating the law.

“I think that my interest came from when I met a Holocaust survivor, Alter Wiener. And I knew when I met him at 9 years old, that his friendship would change my life,” she said.

Wiener, 92, spoke about his experiences across the state. He died in December after being hit by a car while crossing a street in Hillsboro.

"His dream came true. So, he's watching, and I know he's happy that he accomplished this," said his son, Martin. "My father worked on this for a very long time, and I was crying listening to the governor, and I'm very proud that this thing went through."

Alter Wiener was among millions of other Jews forced into labor camps by the Nazis in occupied Poland during the Holocaust. Most of his family and friends were murdered.

“I am certain that he would be grateful to know from his suffering, we have created something good,” Brown said. “And in sharing his experiences, we will bring change.”

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