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Amid Rising Incidents of Antisemitism, the Initiative Will Educate Youth on Holocaust History

(New York, N.Y.) –Amid a rise in incidents of antisemitism in the city and across the globe, New York City Councilmember Julie Menin, the Gray Foundation’s Mindy and Jon Gray, and the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust have joined forces to launch a groundbreaking Holocaust Education School Tours program for all 8th-grade students in New York City public and charter schools starting this fall. This $2.5 million initiative will provide critical education about the global history of antisemitism and propaganda, factors that precipitated the Holocaust, while fostering opportunities for students to reflect on the relevance of historical events to contemporary issues.

This program will be offered entirely free of charge to schools and builds upon the Museum’s extensive 26-year history of serving New York City and tri-state area schools through enriching exhibition tours and Holocaust education programs. The partnership will allow the Museum to serve over 85,000 public and charter school 8th graders over three years.

New York City Councilmember Julie Menin, a member of the Council’s Jewish Caucus, first proposed the idea in the aftermath of the October 7th terrorist attacks on Israel, stressing the need to educate younger generations about the Holocaust and antisemitism. The Gray Foundation, which has supported the Museum of Jewish Heritage since 2016 and supported education efforts across New York City, joined the initiative and is providing $1 million in funding.

“As the daughter and granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, it became profoundly clear to me that we must take decisive action as we witness the alarming surge in antisemitic incidents in our city and across our country,” Councilmember Menin said. “We needed a proactive approach to combat this hatred at its roots. That’s why I approached the Museum of Jewish Heritage with the vision of a universal field trip program for all 8th-grade students in New York City public and charter schools. This initiative, born out of personal conviction and a deep sense of responsibility, aims to ensure that every young mind comprehends the history of the Holocaust and the dangers of antisemitism. My hope is that through education and reflection, we can inoculate future generations against the horrors of the past.”

The initiative comes as incidents involving antisemitism escalate locally and across the country. Antisemitic incidents in New York City have risen dramatically since October 7: 253 antisemitic incidents between early October and March 2024 have been reported to the NYPD – an increase of 85 percent over the 137 antisemitic crimes reported during an equivalent period the year before.

Following the surge in antisemitic incidents since the attacks on Israel, demand for the Museum’s programs for students and teachers has doubled, while schools across the city grapple with teaching their students about the Holocaust amid challenging circumstances. Educators note that the 8th and 10th grades represent optimal stages in a student’s development to introduce comprehensive lessons about the Holocaust. The Museum already has developed a new resource for teachers to address questions about antisemitism and is partnering with New York City Public Schools to develop new curricula for the fall. 

“As we witness a troubling resurgence of Holocaust denial and antisemitism around the world, it has never been more critical to ensure that younger generations are equipped with the knowledge and understanding of the Holocaust,” said Jack Kliger, President and CEO of the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. “We thank Councilmember Julie Menin and Mindy and Jon Gray for this incredible support. Through initiatives like our expanded Holocaust Education Program, we aim to combat misinformation and foster a deep appreciation for the lessons of history. By educating our youth about the horrors of the past, we strive to instill in them a sense of empathy, tolerance, and the resolve to prevent such atrocities from ever happening again.”

“As stewards of memory, it is our duty to ensure that the lessons of the Holocaust are not forgotten,” said Bruce Ratner, Chairman of the Board of Trustees at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. “At a time when hate-driven violence and intolerance persist, we must redouble our efforts to educate and empower the next generation, and we are grateful to New York City Councilmember Julie Menin and Mindy and Jon Gray for creating this opportunity. By expanding access to Holocaust education for NYC 8th graders, we are taking a proactive stance against ignorance and prejudice. We believe that by understanding the consequences of hate, our youth can help build a future rooted in compassion, respect, and the steadfast commitment to never let history repeat itself.”

Over the next three years, the Museum will expand its school group tour program, prioritizing and including higher numbers of public and charter school eighth-grade students from the city. Specially trained Museum Educators will guide groups through exhibitions, including the main exhibition, The Holocaust: What Hate Can Do (which in part chronicles the historic rise in antisemitism before and during the Holocaust) and Courage to Act: Rescue in Denmark (which tells the remarkable story of the rescue of the Danish Jews during the Holocaust), facilitating meaningful discussions and providing pre- and post-tour resources for teachers to incorporate into their curriculum

“We’re proud to partner with Julie and the City Council on a critical issue facing New York,” said Mindy and Jon Gray. “The alarming rise in antisemitism today must be addressed through better education about our past – both its darkest moments and the incredible displays of courage in response.” The Gray Foundation’s prior support for the museum includes funding for its Courage to Act exhibition in 2022 and 2023.

“As Chair of the NYC Council’s Jewish Caucus, I’m thrilled at the opportunity this investment will have in our children,” said New York City Councilmember Eric Dinowitz, who chairs the Council’s Jewish Caucus. “Educating our young people about Jewish history and heritage, including the horrors of the Holocaust and the resilience of the Jewish people, is critical to fostering understanding and building community. This free trip to the Museum of Jewish Heritage will provide a powerful learning experience for every 8th grader in New York City, ensuring the lessons of the past are never forgotten. I want to thank Julie Menin, the Gray Foundation, and the Museum of Jewish Heritage for the incredible collaboration that will have an incredible impact on our youth here in New York City.”

The launch of this effort comes at a time when city schools are witnessing an increase in incidents involving antisemitism. Schools Chancellor David Banks recently noted that out of a total of 281 incidents of religious bias in city schools since October 7, 42% involved antisemitism.

“In the fight against antisemitism, it will take us all—schools, community organizations, cultural institutions, leaders in government, and more. Today’s announcement is a true representation of that partnership and collaboration,” said NYC Public Schools Chancellor David C. Banks. “It is critical that we educate our students about the Holocaust, and we are proud to be longtime partners with the Museum of Jewish Heritage in this important work. We are grateful as well to Councilmember Menin and the Gray Foundation for their leadership on this initiative.”  

 To support this expansion, the Museum will hire additional education staff and adopt a more proactive approach to scheduling and outreach, ensuring equitable access to its educational programs for all students. Leveraging public partnerships and engaging with key stakeholders, the Museum is committed to fostering a deeper understanding of the Holocaust and its relevance to contemporary society.

“The Museum of Jewish Heritage does so much to foster public awareness of and discussion about the tragic lessons of the Holocaust through age-appropriate content and programming,” said New York City Cultural Affairs Commissioner Laurie Cumbo. “We applaud this partnership between NYC Public Schools and the Museum of Jewish Heritage to offer free programming to engage our city’s young people, providing a model for how culture can support the fight against anti-Semitism.”

“As the grandson of Holocaust survivors and World II veterans, and as a former educator, I know firsthand that the importance of Holocaust education cannot be overstated, particularly in a moment when recent surveys revealed high percentages of young people across our nation lack basic awareness about one of the darkest periods in our humanity,” said Mark Treyger, CEO of JCRC-NY. “Meaningful and quality education on this vital topic that connects to student experiences while promoting the importance of our shared humanity is a big part of the path forward to combat ignorance, antisemitism, and a systematic erasure of our past. Thank you to Council Member Menin for spearheading this powerful initiative and JCRC-NY looks forward to continue partnering on this and other critical education initiatives to advance a more inclusive and supportive school system for all students, staff, and community stakeholders.”

“Education is how we combat hatred. This partnership will give our 8th graders the knowledge, facts, and personal experiences needed to help combat antisemitism and bias. We thank Council Member Menin, the NYC Council Jewish Caucus, the Gray Foundation, and the Museum of Jewish Heritage for creating this opportunity for our students,” said Michael Mulgrew, President of the United Federation of Teachers.

“School leaders know firsthand that we must teach children the history of our city’s diverse cultures and religions to create inclusive learning environments and combat hatred in our public schools,” said Henry Rubio, President of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators (CSA). “For over twenty-five years the Museum of Jewish History has done the vital work of educating New Yorkers about Jewish life before, during, and after the Holocaust. As we honor Jewish American Heritage Month, we applaud Councilmember Julie Menin, the Gray Foundation, and the Museum of Jewish History for their generous investment and collaboration in this essential program.”

“Thanks to Councilmember Menin and the generosity of the Gray Foundation, NYC 8th graders will be able to come to the Museum and learn about Jewish history and the important lessons that history has for all of us,” said James Merriman, CEO of the NYC Charter School Center. “We know that many of the City’s thousands of public charter school 8th graders will take advantage of this important program and come away with a better understanding about what unchecked hate can do – and how they can help stop it.”

More than ever we need to teach about the horrors of the Holocaust, and this funding and new program inspired by Council Member Julie Menin – the daughter of Holocaust survivors – will do just that. Thank you to the Museum of Jewish Heritage, and to Mindy and Jon Gray of the Gray Foundation for making this a reality. There is a rise in antisemitism in New York and across the country, and if we are going to ensure that we never forget then we need to start teaching young people early about the Holocaust. This program and funding could not come at a more perfect time,” said David G. Greenfield, CEO of the Met Council.

“My class visited the museum after studying our Historical Fiction unit and reading Number the Stars together. The level of engagement in my class was outstanding.  It was a joy to see my students researching, collaborating with one another, and sharing their new learnings with each other inside and outside of the classroom,” said public school teacher Laura Imperiale-Esposito. “I have taught this unit for nine years, but going to the Museum was my first time ever. The impact that the Museum created for my class and me will provide everlasting memories.”


About New York City Councilmember Julie Menin

An attorney and civic leader with over two decades of experience in the public and private sectors, Julie Menin most recently served as New York City’s (“NYC”) Census Director achieving a historic result where NYC finished number one of all major cities. She co-chairs the Women’s Caucus and has served as Commissioner of both the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection and the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. Julie Menin is a proud mom and honored to represent the district that her mother and grandmother settled in (known as Little Hungary) after escaping from Hungary after surviving the Holocaust. Learn more at


About the Gray Foundation

The Gray Foundation is committed to improving the lives of low-income youth in New York City. The Foundation partners with leading nonprofits to expand access to education, healthcare and opportunity for children across all five boroughs.  The Foundation also accelerates research, raises awareness and improves treatment to support individuals and families who have inherited BRCA mutations and related cancers. Learn more at


About The Museum Of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust

The Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust is New York’s contribution to the global responsibility to Never Forget. Opened in 1997, the Museum is committed to the crucial mission of educating diverse visitors about Jewish life before, during, and after the Holocaust. 

 The Museum’s current offerings include Courage to Act: Rescue in Denmark, a new exhibition about the extraordinary rescue of Denmark’s Jewish population in 1943, a story of mutual aid and communal upstanding in difficult times for visitors aged 9 and up; The Holocaust: What Hate Can Doa major exhibition offering a timely and expansive presentation of Holocaust history, on view in the main galleries; and, Survivors: Faces of Life After the Holocaust, featuring photographer Martin Schoeller’s portraits of 75 Holocaust survivors in his signature style. 

The Museum of Jewish Heritage maintains the Peter & Mary Kalikow Jewish Genealogy Resource Center, a collection of almost 40,000 artifacts, photographs, documentary films, and survivor testimonies, and contains classrooms, a 375-seat theater (Edmond J. Safra Hall), special exhibition galleries, and a memorial art installation, Garden of Stones, designed by internationally acclaimed sculptor Andy Goldsworthy. The Museum also hosts LOX at Café Bergson an OU-certified café serving eastern European specialties.

 Each year, the Museum presents over 100 public programs, connecting our community in person and virtually through lectures, book talks, concerts, and more. For more info visit: The Museum receives general operating support from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and New York State Council on the Arts. For more information, visit