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Oregon bill aims to counter antisemitism by educating students about Jewish culture

Star of David ornament on tree
David Holifield
An ornamental Star of David hangs from a tree branch.

Jewish culture, history, and contributions would become part of Oregon’s educational curriculum, under a bill coursing through the legislature.

It’s in response to increased incidents of antisemitism, both in Oregon and across the U.S.

In recent months, antisemitic flyers and swastika graffiti have been reported in Oregon communities, including Springfield and Eugene’s South Hills area.

Oregon Rep. David Gomberg (D-Lincoln City), is the chief sponsor of House Bill 2905. It would complement existing requirements for Oregon’s schools to teach about BIPOC, LGBTQ, and immigrant communities, among others.

A Jew himself, Gomberg says his bill’s language goes further than the existing designation of “Middle Eastern” currently in state law.

“Referring to ‘Middle Eastern’ descent wasn’t making any clear definitions,” Gomberg told KLCC. “If it was, was largely discounting 2000 years of Jewish history, culture, sacrifice, and survival. As well as contributions Jewish communities have made to the history and evolution of Oregon.”

Proponents add that while state schools do teach about the Holocaust, it’s important that students learn more about the Jewish people than historical atrocities.

The bill cleared the House without opposition and now heads to the Senate.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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