Jul 16, 2019

Taking on “Never Again” Together

The Spanish River High School principal’s statements suggesting the Holocaust may be a “belief” rather than historical fact has garnered extensive attention from within our community and far beyond. We owe our gratitude to a brave mother from our midst who raised important questions regarding Spanish River High School’s Holocaust education curriculum and methodology.

Rather than leak any redacted emails regarding this to the media, as she has been falsely accused, she went above and beyond to keep the issue private. She focused only on the need to educate our children about the horrors of one of the Jewish people’s and humanity’s darkest hours.

This mother wanted to ensure that, as mandated by Florida’s 1994 Holocaust Education Law, the history of the Holocaust that annihilated 6 million Jews and 5 million others will be remembered. That our students will understand the depths to which intolerance, ignorance and extremism can plummet. That the lessons of the Holocaust will help prevent other tragedies on scales both large and small.

The principal had numerous opportunities to fix this situation and ensure the required mandate was fulfilled, but he ultimately declined to do so. His inaction put the School District in a tough position that led to his recent reassignment and the Superintendent’s recommendation against renewal of his contract.

Standing up for what’s right is not easy, but it is part of what it means to be a parent, a concerned community member and a Jew. The mother who raised this issue should be an example and inspiration for all of us. I proudly reached out to thank her for the courage and perseverance it took to pursue this cause both quietly and persistently over a year. I urge everyone so inclined to join her in pursuing this vital issue.

Every one of us has a responsibility to teach the next generation about the Holocaust, and to make sure that our schools fulfill their responsibility to do so. Our community must move forward from this situation together.

Let me assure you that our Jewish community is already working with the School District and Board of Palm Beach County to understand why it took a year to expose the situation at Spanish River. We are also exploring opportunities to work with them toward a more thorough and consistent implementation of the state Holocaust education mandate. In addition, we are encouraging our state legislators to revisit the 1994 mandate to ensure that every school in Florida has the appropriate resources and mechanisms to carry it out.

We are one people, one community. Together we thrive, and together we will do our part to ensure “never again.”

Matthew C. Levin, President & CEO
Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County