Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) has announced House appointments to the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission. The newly formed Commission will assist public and private organizations and elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools, in planning, coordinating and implementing Holocaust and genocide study courses and awareness programs.
The legislative appointee from the Texas House of Representatives is Representative Ellen Cohen (D-Houston). The public members appointed by the Speaker are: Dr. Ian Hancock (Buda), expert on Romani and genocide issues; Dr. Frank Kasman (Midland), researcher and lecturer on the Holocaust destruction of Radin; Ms. Suzanne Ransleben (Corpus Christi), teacher and creator of curriculum about the Holocaust; Mr. Stanley Rosenberg (San Antonio), active member of the San Antonio Holocaust Museum; and Ms. Chaja Verveer (Houston), child survivor of the Holocaust.
“I am proud of the support in the House for the creation of the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission. The Commission will honor the memory of those lost as well as help guide organizations and educators as they teach the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides to the next generation,” Speaker Straus said.
The Commission was established during the 81st legislature after the passage of SB 482, authored by Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) and Senator Florence Shapiro (R-Plano) and sponsored in the House by Rep. Warren Chisum (R-Pampa) and Rep. Cohen.
“I count it a great privilege and honor to be joining this incredibly talented group of people who have dedicated themselves to ensuring that we never forget where prejudice and bigotry can take us,” said Rep. Cohen. “I am grateful to Speaker Straus and pleased that I can continue supporting this bipartisan effort to create awareness across the state and invest in yet one more effort to underscore the value of civil discourse.”
Rep. Cohen also expressed her appreciation that her nomination of Chaja Verveer was accepted by Speaker Straus. “When you know Chaja’s story, you know that, for her, silence is not an option. Children, teens, and adults across Texas need to be told what happens when good people choose not to remember and not to act. Chaja will be both a touchstone for the Commission and a vibrant voice.”
Ms. Verveer, who was sent to Westerbork, a transit camp in northeastern Holland in February 1944, and whose story is chronicled in the Holocaust Museum Houston, serves on the board of the Museum and is president of Child Survivors of the Holocaust, Houston. Upon word of having been appointed to the Commission, Ms. Verveer said, “I welcome the opportunity and appreciate the timeliness of the Commission. In this era, creating greater awareness of how we treat our fellow human beings is not an abstract idea but instead is a practical step toward creating better communities, a better Texas and a better world. We can’t allow ourselves to forget that whoever the “them” of the moment is they are real people. The moment we say “them” we are in trouble.”
The terms of the initial public members of the commission will expire on February 1, 2015.
State Representative Ellen Cohen represents District 134, which includes all of Bellaire, West University, River Oaks, Rice University and the Texas Medical Center, along with parts of Meyerland and Montrose. Rep. Cohen is serving her second term in the Texas State Legislature.