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October 23, 2016 / 21 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Elie Wiesel’

Israeli Leaders Bid Farewell to Holocaust Survivor and Writer Elie Wiesel

Sunday, July 3rd, 2016

By Jonathan Benedek/TPS

Several top Israeli officials expressed their condolences on the passing of author, Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel, speaking of his untiring work on behalf of the Jewish people, the State of Israel and humanity.

“Elie Wiesel was the collective moral compass of the Jewish people,” said Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, a former Soviet refusenik and Prisoner of Zion. “He was the first to break the silence surrounding the plight of Soviet Jewry, and he accompanied our struggle until we achieved victory. We will miss him deeply.”

In his 1966 book The Jews of Silence, Wiesel wrote of the struggle of Jews living in the Soviet Union, which he had observed during a visit to the USSR the previous year. Many believe this work was one of the main factors that led to American Jewry’s call to action on behalf of Soviet Jewry.

“This was a sad evening for the Jewish people,” said Nir Barkat, the mayor of Jerusalem. “Only a few months ago I had the honor of bestowing the Honorary Citizen of the City of Jerusalem award upon Professor Elie Wiesel.”

The Honorary Citizen of Jerusalem award is given to distinguished people who have made significant contributions to Israel’s capital city.

“In your Zionist, principled, and moral mission, your numerous writings and your public activities, you have contributed greatly to the State of Israel and to its capital city of Jerusalem,” Barkat told Weisel during the award ceremony in December 2015. “You are a faithful ambassador and true friend of our city, and through your work you have demonstrated uncompromising support for those who dwell in Zion, as well as a truly shared destiny.”

Wiesel replied to Barkat: “In my life I have published more than sixty books, but believe me when I tell you, Mr. Mayor, that Jerusalem is the heart and soul of my work. I am moved to receive the title of Honorary Citizen of Jerusalem, and I will continue to act for Jerusalem and for the State of Israel.”

In response to the news of Wiesel’s passing, Mayor Barkat said last night: “When I bestowed the award upon Wiesel in an emotional ceremony, I said it was a great privilege to express the deep appreciation Jerusalem has for his heroism and his life’s work. Elie Wiesel was a loyal ambassador and a true friend of Jerusalem, and has demonstrated unwavering support and empathy with the people of the city.”

Elie Wiesel was known for speaking out not only about Jewish suffering, but also on behalf of oppressed groups throughout the world. Noting this, the Nobel Prize Committee described him in 1986 as a “messenger to mankind.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “Through his unforgettable books, moving words and personal example, Elie personified the triumph of the human spirit over the most unimaginable evil. His life and work were a great blessing to the Jewish people, the Jewish state and to all humanity.

“The State of Israel and the Jewish people mourn the passing of Elie Wiesel.”

President Reuven Rivlin said, “[Wiesel’s] life was dedicated to the fight against all hatred and for the sake of man as created in the image of God. He was a guide for us all. Tonight we bid farewell to a hero of the Jewish people and a giant of all humanity.”

In November 2013, during his term as Israel’s president, Shimon Peres awarded Israel’s Presidential Medal of Distinction, Israel’s highest civil medal, to Elie Wiesel for his for his work commemorating the Holocaust and promoting tolerance in the world. In his address to Wiesel at the ceremony, he said, “You are waving the flag of humanity, preventing bloodshed and challenging racism and anti-Semitism, as well as preventing war. You personally went through the most atrocious horrors of humanity, and as a Holocaust survivor you chose to dedicate your life to deliver the message — never again.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Holocaust Author and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel Dead at 87

Saturday, July 2nd, 2016

Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel who in 1986 was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, is dead, according to a Saturday announcement by Yad Vashem. He was 87 years old. Wiesel died in his New York home. He was survived by his wife, his son and two grandchildren.

Wiesel was born in in Sighet, Transylvania (Romania), in the Carpathian Mountains, on September 30, 1928. Wiesel’s mother, Sarah, was the daughter of a Vizhnitz Hasid who spent time in jail for helping Polish Jews enter the country illegally. Wiesel’s father, Shlomo, encouraged him to learn Hebrew and to read literature, while his mother encouraged him to study the Torah. Wiesel had three siblings – older sisters Beatrice and Hilda, and younger sister Tzipora. Beatrice and Hilda survived the war and were reunited with Wiesel at a French orphanage. They eventually emigrated to North America, with Beatrice moving to Canada. Tzipora, Shlomo, and Sarah did not survive the Holocaust.

In 1944, the German army deported the Jewish community in Sighet to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Wiesel and his father were sent to the work camp Buna, a subcamp of Auschwitz III-Monowitz. He managed to remain with his father for more than eight months as they were shuffled among three concentration camps in the final days of the war.

On January 28, 1945, just a few weeks after the two were marched to Buchenwald, Wiesel’s father was beaten by an SS guard as he was suffering from dysentery, starvation, and exhaustion. He was also beaten by other inmates for his food. He was later sent to the crematorium, only weeks before the camp was liberated by the US Third Army on April 11.

For ten years after the war, Wiesel refused to write about or discuss his experiences during the Holocaust. However, a meeting with the French author François Mauriac, the 1952 Nobel Laureate in Literature, and a discussion he had with the Lubavitcher Rebbe were turning points for him. His first memoir, in Yiddish, titled, And the World Remained Silent, was published in Buenos Aires. He rewrote a new version of the manuscript in French, which was published as La Nuit, and translated into English as Night. Wiesel had trouble finding a publisher and the book initially sold only a few copies.

In 1960 Hill & Wang agreed to pay a $100 pro-forma advance and published it in the United States in September that year as Night. The book sold only 1,046 copies, but attracted interest from reviewers, leading to television interviews with Wiesel and meetings with literary figures such as Saul Bellow. “The English translation came out in 1960, and the first printing was 3,000 copies,” Wiesel said in an interview. “And it took three years to sell them. Now, I get 100 letters a month from children about the book. And there are many, many millions of copies in print.”

Night has been translated into 30 languages. By 1997 the book was selling 300,000 copies annually in the United States alone. By March 2006, about six million copies were sold in the United States. On January 16, 2006, Oprah Winfrey chose the work for her book club. One million extra paperback and 150,000 hardcover copies were printed carrying the “Oprah’s Book Club” logo, with a new translation by Wiesel’s wife, Marion, and a new preface by Wiesel. On February 12, 2006, the new translation of Night was No. 1 on The New York Times bestseller list for paperback non-fiction and the original translation placed third.

Wiesel and his wife started the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity. He served as chairman for the Presidential Commission on the Holocaust (later renamed US Holocaust Memorial Council) from 1978 to 1986, spearheading the building of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, during which he pleaded for US intervention in Yugoslavia after a visit there in 1992.

Wiesel and his wife invested their life savings, and the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity invested nearly all of its assets (approximately $15.2 million) through Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, an experience that caused Wiesel deep pain.


Israeli Ambassador ‘Awards Oscars’ and Teaches UN its Principles [video]

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

On Tuesday, Feb. 23, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor addressed the U.N. Security Council, which was meeting to congratulate itself and “reaffirm” its international commitment to the principles outlined in the UN Charter.

Prosor could not permit the occasion to pass without drawing attention to the ways in which the institution falls far short of the grand ideals which, 70 years ago, drove representatives of 50 nations to draw up the Charter upon which the U.N. was created.

The U.N. Charter enshrined several fundamental principles:

first, to maintain international peace and security and take effective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to peace; second, to advance relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights; third, to promote and encourage respect for human rights; and fourth, to be a center for harmonizing the actions of nations. Prosor deftly excised the verbiage to reveal the myriad ways in which the U.N. undermines those lofty ideals, replacing them, instead, with cowardice and appeasement towards those who most betray the U.N. principles, and discrimination and vilification of at least one nation committed to upholding those principles: Israel.

The Israeli ambassador explained that the greatest threat to global security comes from the terrorist radical Islamist groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda, ISIS and Boko Haram. He described their battle against the civilized world as one “between civility and barbarism, between pluralistic and totalitarian society, between tyranny and freedom.”

Those extremists are destabilizing communities, nations and entire regions of the world, yet the U.N. has “been reluctant to take decisive action,” Prosor said, and on occasion, the U.N. has “surrendered to those nations that harbor, fund and support terrorist groups.”

Hezbollah, in particular, was held out by Prosor as an example of the U.N.’s inclination to coddle, not curb, terrorism, pointing out that the Iranian-sponsored terrorist group has held Lebanon hostage for nearly three decades, while it continues its “reign of terror.”

The U.N. has also failed in its stated dedication to the principle of equal rights, with member nations that impose the death penalty for loving the “wrong” people or believing in the “wrong” faiths. Prosor pointed to the recent beheadings by ISIS of 21 Coptic Christians as merely the latest in a decades-long process of badgering and discriminating against Middle Eastern Christians, until their number has dwindled to small minorities.

Prosor also pointed an accusatory finger at various member nations who sit on the U.N.’s Human Rights Council, such as Venezuela, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Algeria. The lack of a free judiciary and a free press in those countries makes their membership a mockery of the Council.

Last year Iran was elected to serve as Vice Chair of the U.N.’s legal committee. Prosor pointed out the absurdity of making such a choice when Iranian citizens are denied due process and fair trials, and they are not even permitted to participate in Iranian national affairs.

Prosor told the Council:

The fact of the matter is that this institution has been hijacked. The ruthless autocracies that jail journalists rush to lecture us on the virtues of a free press. The repressive dictatorships that persecute political opponents filibuster on the sanctity of free and fair elections. And the mass-murdering tyrannical regimes preach to us about human rights.

Finally the Israeli ambassador addressed the treatment of the tiny country he represents at the hands of the U.N. Prosor patiently recounted just some of the ways in which Israel has been treated as a pariah nation by the U.N.

For example, last year alone the General Assembly adopted 20 resolutions singling out Israel for condemnation. All other nations were reprimanded by punitive resolutions a total of three times. In 2014, the Syrian civil war raged with chemical weapons and barrel bombs directed at its own citizens, Boko Haram slaughtered thousands, Russia invaded Crimea, North Korea continued its totalitarian regime oppressing its citizens, and Saudi Arabia executed dozens of its citizens, yet Israel was singled out for criticism time and again.

Since 2006, more than half of all resolutions adopted by the U.N. Human Rights Council in criticism of a particular country have been directed at Israel. This isn’t logical, it isn’t moral – it is simply prejudice.

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 4.51.29 PM

media credit: Israel Mission to the UN, New York

Prosor then took the occasion to link the proceedings in the U.N. with last night’s Academy Awards. He suggested what would happen if the U.N. decided to give out Oscars for “Maintenance of International Peace and Security.”

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 4.51.42 PM

Media Credit: Israel Mission to the UN, New York

The U.N. would give the Best Actor award “for acting like a peace loving country while developing nuclear capabilities, denying the Holocaust, and threatening the destruction of another member state to…..Iran.”

Prosor suggested the U.N. would give the Best Supporting Actor award to Hezbollah for its “unrelenting support to the Assad Regime in killing hundreds of thousands of civilians.”

The Israeli ambassador had several other predictions for winners in the U.N.’s version of the Academy awards. To watch him deliver them, watch the video of his speech, below.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

London Times Rejects Elie Wiesel’s Ad Against Hamas ‘Child Sacrifice’

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

(JTA) — The London Times refused to run an ad featuring Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel speaking out against what the ad says is Hamas’ use of children as human shields.

The ad sponsored by The Values Network, which was founded by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, has run in The New York Times, Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, among other U.S. newspapers. The rejection was first reported by the New York Observer.

The London Times refused the ad because “the opinion being expressed is too strong and too forcefully made and will cause concern amongst a significant number of Times readers,” according to a statement from a representative of the newspaper, the Observer reported.

Hundreds of Palestinian children were killed in Gaza, according to Palestinian sources, during Hamas’ latest conflict with Israel. Hamas was accused of placing munitions and fighters in areas near children.

Headlined “Jews rejected child sacrifice 3,500 years ago. Now it’s Hamas turn,” the ad began running last week. It reads, in part: “In my own lifetime, I have seen Jewish children thrown into the fire. And now I have seen Muslim children used as human shields, in both cases, by worshippers of death cults indistinguishable from that of the Molochites.

“What we are suffering through today is not a battle of Jew versus Arab or Israeli versus Palestinian. Rather, it is a battle between those who celebrate life and those who champion death. It is a battle of civilization versus barbarism.”

Countering the London Times statement, Boteach said in his own, “Elie Wiesel is one of the most respected human beings alive, a Nobel Peace Laureate, and is the living face of the Holocaust. No greater expert on genocide exists in the whole world. His call for the end of child sacrifice by Hamas, who use children as human shields, and a stop to their genocidal charter, which calls for the murder of Jews everywhere, could only offend the sensibilities of the most die-hard anti-Israel haters and anti-Semites.”


Elie Wiesel’s Childhood Romanian Home is Now New Holocaust Center

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

The first public Holocaust education center in Romania opened Sunday in the pre-war childhood home of Nobel Prize-winning author Elie Wiesel, with special events in his hometown of Sighet.

The “Holocaust Cellar” became a new feature of the existing Holocaust museum, in the old Jewish Ghetto of Sighet in Maramures County. The Cellar will serve as a learning center dedicated to the 13,000 local Jewish Holocaust victims.

The opening was sponsored jointly by the Government of Romania, the City of Sighet, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, the Elie Wiesel National Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Romanian Jewish Federation, the Caritatea Foundation and Limmud FSU. This is the first in a series of events that will mark 70 years since the expulsion of the last Jews of Northern Transylvania to Auschwitz. Among the events in Sighet this past weekend was a concert memorializing Holocaust victims on Saturday night, after Shabbat.

Speaking by live video stream to event guests, Prof. Wiesel said,

To all of you at the opening of the new Holocaust Cellar in my home in my little town of Sighet in the Carpathian Mountains: I so wish that I could be there with you today. The house I was raised in is now a museum but to me it will always be uniquely special, eliciting the warmest of memories until the darkness of the kingdom of night befell us.  I hope that your meetings, though melancholy in nature, are fruitful, enriching and full of meaningful learning.

Dining area in Elie Wiesel's childhood home in Sighet, Romania, now part of a Holocaust Education Center.

Dining area in Elie Wiesel’s childhood home in Sighet, Romania, now part of a Holocaust Education Center.

In 1944, two days after Passover, the Jews of Maramures County, in Northern Transylvania, were rounded up and forced into 13 ghettos. Eventually, 131,639 Jews from Northern Transylvania were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau; most were exterminated. Between 280,000 and 380,000 Romanian and Ukrainian Jews were murdered or otherwise died during the Holocaust in Romania- a Nazi ally- and the territories under its control. An additional 135,000 Romanian Jews, living under Hungarian control in Northern Transylvania, also perished in the Holocaust, as did some 5,000 Romanian Jews in other countries.

“The story of the Jews who lived in North Transylvania has not been widely told until now,” said Chaim Chesler, Chairman of the Claims Conference’s Memorial Committee. “The education center commemorates the terrible fate that befell the Jews of this area, and ensures their story will not be forgotten.”

Chief Cantor of Bucharest Jewish Community Yosef Adler, Chief Rabbi of Romania Rafael Sheffer, Ben Helfgott, Chaim Chesler, Herman Cahn- childhood friend of Elie Wiesel, Ovidiu Nemes, and Elisabeta Ungurianu.

Chief Cantor of Bucharest Jewish Community Yosef Adler, Chief Rabbi of Romania Rafael Sheffer, Ben Helfgott, Chaim Chesler, Herman Cahn- childhood friend of Elie Wiesel, Ovidiu Nemes, and Elisabeta Ungurianu.

Among participants at the event were Viktor Opaschi, the Romanian Minister of Religious Affairs; Irina Cajal, Deputy Minister of Education; Ben Helfgott, Vice President of the Claims Conference and leader in the UK Holocaust survivor community; Romanian parliament members; Rafael Sheffer, Chief Rabbi of Romania; Cantor Yosef Adler; Ovidiu Nemesh, the Mayor of Sighet; Harry Marcus, head of the Sighet Jewish community, as well as other leaders of the Romanian Jewish Federation; prominent journalists from Israel, the United States and Romania; and members of Limmud FSU.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

President Peres Honors Elie Wiesel in New York

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

Elie Wiesel received the President’s Medal of Distinction from Israeli President Shimon Peres in a ceremony in New York Monday night.

Wiesel, a survivor of Auschwitz and author of more than 40 books, was awarded Israel’s highest civilian medal for “his unique contribution to the memorial of the Holocaust and in light of his uncompromising drive for peace and tolerance.”

“The Holocaust taught us that killing isn’t done just with guns and weapons, but also with apathy, and you Elie, are saving the world from that apathy,” Peres said. “You are waving the flag of humanity, preventing bloodshed and challenging racism and anti-Semitism, as well as preventing war. You personally went through the most atrocious horrors of humanity, and as a Holocaust survivor you chose to dedicate your life to deliver the message – never again.”

Wiesel responded, “Israel is in the center of my life, and even though I don’t live in Israel, Israel lives within me. I now see myself as an honorary Israeli. Life is composed of moments, not only years, and this moment is worth an entire life.”

Previous winners of the award include President Obama, former President Clinton, former Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger, Zubin Mehta the music director of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Rashi Foundation and Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz.


Ukrainian Jewish Leaders: Romania Unfit to Lead Holocaust Body

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Ukrainian Jewish leaders said Romania was unfit to head a Holocaust remembrance forum because it has not done enough to come to grips with its own Holocaust-era culpability.

Approximately 380,000 Jews were murdered in Romania-controlled areas during the Holocaust, according to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem.

“Romania’s actions prove it is not ready to assume responsibility for the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian Jews during the Holocaust, when Romanian troops acted as an occupying force in large parts of Ukraine under orders from the country’s pro-Nazi leadership,” Oleksandr Feldman, a Ukrainian lawmaker and president of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, told JTA.

Feldman was reacting to reports that Romanian Foreign Minister Titus Corlatean was interested in having Romania head the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, or IHRA, in 2016. Canada currently heads the alliance.

Ukrainian Jewish Committee Secretary Eduard Dolinsky said that Romania’s embassy in Ukraine has rejected invitations by his organization to discuss ways to jointly commemorate the murder of Jews by Romanian troops.

The Romanian bid is supported in principle by Rabbi Andrew Baker, the American Jewish Committee’s director of international affairs and personal representative on combating anti-Semitism for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe — an intergovernmental agency with 57 member states known by the acronym OSCE.

“There may be additional issues to tackle but Romania has taken some important steps toward coming to grips with its Holocaust-era record,” Baker said. He noted the 2005 establishment of the Elie Wiesel National Institute for the Study of Holocaust in Romania and the 2004 designation of a national Holocaust remembrance day on Oct. 9 — the day that Romanian authorities began deporting Jews to their deaths 72 years ago.


Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/ukrainian-jewish-leaders-romania-unfit-to-lead-holocaust-body/2013/11/25/

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