Thu, 07/07/2016 - 10:38am
Posted in: Holocaust Commission
By now I'm sure all of you have heard the news that Elie Wiesel passed away last weekend. As the tributes to this Holocaust survivor, author, Nobel Laureate, humanitarian, and dedicated teacher poured out, the sorrow of losing one of the most powerful voices for Holocaust remembrance and against injustice of any kind was overwhelming.
An iconic spokesperson for the Holocaust’s enduring lessons, Elie Wiesel was one of the most recognizable voices through which millions first encountered the dark history of the Shoah. But most importantly, he broke the silence and refused to let the world forget.
It is hard to even comprehend what the world must have been like when everyone, including Jews, only wanted to forget the Holocaust. What a different universe we would live in if Elie Wiesel had not had the courage to speak and remember.
From a local and more personal perspective, he touched our community as well.
In his What We Carry story created for the Holocaust Commission, Hanns Loewenbach* recounts how his encounter with Elie Wiesel in 1956, inspired him to start sharing his own remarkable survival story. Loewenbach was there when Wiesel came to Norfolk in 2000 for a (standing room only) speaking engagement to commemorate Congregation Beth El's 150th anniversary. The Nobel Laureate generously took the time to sign a copy of his memoir Night for the very talented winners of that year's student writing competition, which had been named in his honor. We will continue to honor Elie Wiesel’s memory by having our Elie Wiesel Student Writing and Visual Art Competitions named for him. They will be a fitting memorial to this giant of a man who reminded us that in any era in which we live;
“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”
As we move forward in an atmosphere that chillingly continues to echo the past, let us keep Elie Wiesel's legacy alive with our work on the Holocaust Commission. The world, our community, and future generations cannot afford for us not to.
*Of blessed memory
Wendy Juren Auerbach
on behalf of the Holocaust Commission