Inside Spring & Summer 2010 : Page 37

Why isn’t Pennsylvania funding Holocaust education? By Melissa Jacobs nial with heavy curtains, crown molding, patterned carpet and gilt-framed artwork created by important artists. Important people crowd the room: Pennsylvania State Rep. Joshua Shapiro, Larry Kane, City Councilwoman Marian B. Tasco, Philadelphia First Lady Lisa Nutter—and the quiet senior citizens in the first four rows. Into the room walks Mayor Michael Nutter. Politely but briefly greet- P ing the people gathered around the edges of the room, Nutter heads straight for the first rows of the audience. He bends at the waist.He offers his hand. He listens. “I am honored to meet you,” Nutter says with quiet sincerity, shaking hand after hand. Nutter knows what is tattooed on the wrists of those hands. They belong to Holocaust survivors, a natural Jewish resource, aging and dwindling in number. It is Jan. 27, 2010, the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Experts in Holocaust education say that, with each successive year, this day and Yom HaShoah are commemorated by fewer and fewer people. Which is why some are outraged that the Pennsylvania 2009-2010 budget eliminated funding for Holocaust education in public schools. Who is teaching the lessons of the Holocaust? For 10 years, $60,000 of state money went to the Pennsylvania Holocaust Education Council. With that funding, PHEC created the Clara H. Isaacman Memorial Trunk Program, which distributed historical Holocaust items to Pennsylvania schools, and provided financial subsi- dies to support Holocaust speakers in schools and trips to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. Why did funding get cut? “We had a $3 billion shortfall during the last fiscal year,”Gary Tuma, SURVIVOR SERENA ZELMONOVITCH AT STERN HEBREW HIGH SCHOOL IN THE NORTHEAST. JAUHIEN SASNOU press secretary for Gov. Ed Rendell, explained. “The governor cut $2 bil- lion out of the budget and we made up the rest with other revenue streams. These were enormous and painful cuts to a lot of programs that Gov. Rendell supports.” Funding for New Jersey’s Holocaust education programs also took a INSIDE SPRING &SUMMER 2010 37 ainted portraits of white-haired men stare out at the first four rows of white-haired men and women seated in the Mayor’s Reception Room in Philadelphia’s City Hall. This large room is made ceremo-

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