The “Never Again Education Act” was signed into law on May 29.
Two life members of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, are the toast of the Hadassah Greater Detroit Region. Diane Brody of Beverly Hills and Suzanne Lowe of East Lansing, co-chairs of the region’s Advocacy Committee, successfully interacted with Michigan’s congressional delegation to back bills implementing Holocaust education in school districts nationwide. The “Never Again Education Act” was signed into law on May 29.
The 302 co-sponsors of the House of Representatives’ bill, passed on Jan. 27, included nine from Michigan: Democrats Debbie Dingell, Dan Kildee, Brenda Lawrence, Andy Levin, Elissa Slotkin, Haley Stevens and Rashida Tlaib, and Republicans John Moolenaar and Fred Upton. A Senate bill, nearly identical to the House version, had 79 co-sponsors (including both Michigan senators) when passed on May 13.
The Never Again Education Act expands the educational mission of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington, D.C. The U.S. Department of Education will authorize distribution of $2 million annually, through 2024, to the USHMM Holocaust Education Assistance Program Fund.
The funding will “equip educators with the resources for training and materials they need to ensure that comprehensive Holocaust education is made available in our schools,” said Fran Heicklen, the Greater Detroit Region president.
National Hadassah stated on May 13: “The Never Again Education Act is our last best chance to make a significant and lasting impact against the rising tide of hatred in our country.”
“Hadassah spent more than two years seeking congressional support for the Never Again Education Act,” said Lowe, a Hadassah member since 1997 and president of the former Hadassah Lansing. Lowe is also co-chair of Greater Detroit Region’s Attorneys & Judges Council and co-vice president of Education.
Lowe worked more than 30 years as legal counsel in a nonpartisan Michigan Senate office. Originally from Muskegon, she moved to Lansing in 1970. She and her husband, David, are members of East Lansing-based Congregation Shaarey Zedek.
Former Southfield resident Brody is a third-generation Hadassah member, joining in 2006. She is Community Service co-vice president and on the Fundraising Committee for Aviv Hadassah Group. She formerly served on the board of Ruach Hadassah. Brody is employed as an account manager at Cox Automotive in Troy. She and her husband, Todd Schafer, belong to Temple Shir Shalom in West Bloomfield.
The women brought passion to their pursuit of passing the Never Again Education Act. Antisemitism was brought home for Lowe when her little sister was called “a dirty Jew.” Lowe remembered their grandmother’s lament for the six million and said a book by Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel “changed my outlook on humanity.”
Holocaust education is “essential to teach people what can happen when intolerance and hatred are allowed to go unchecked,” Lowe said. “In many cases, it is not only schoolchildren who need to be taught, but educators as well.”
As survivors pass from the scene, Brody said, “it becomes even more imperative to educate students about what occurred, to make them less susceptible to the falsehood of Holocaust denial and distortion.”
Hadassah Greater Detroit leaders invited Brody to represent the region at last year’s JCRC/AJC’s annual Congressional Reception. She enjoyed the opportunity to speak directly to Slotkin, Levin and Stevens about the Never Again Education Act. Brody soon joined Lowe in advocacy work. National Hadassah provided their tools and resources.
A constituent of Levin, Brody visited him in his office, seeking support for the education bill.
Lowe credited her pre-retirement career as an attorney for giving her “an understanding of the political and legislative process.” She conferred with senior staff of Slotkin and also Republican Rep. Tim Walberg.
Brody and Lowe attended meetings held in the Detroit offices of Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, both Michigan Democrats. After the House bill passed, Lowe followed up with both “to stay on their radar.” Hadassah tracked the bills’ progress on the congressional website.
Lowe said she experienced a sense of “accomplishment and relief” when the Never Again Education Act became law.
“It may sound cliché,” Brody said, “but it made me feel like one person really can make a difference.”
Approximately 4,000 area women belong to Hadassah Greater Detroit, headquartered in
West Bloomfield. For information, visit hadassah.org/detroit.
Correction (7/30/20): An earlier version of this article inaccurately reported that Michigan Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters had not co-sponsored the Never Again Education Act in the Senate when it passed on May 13. In fact, both of them had already signed on as co-sponsors by that point.