Photo Credit: Miriam Alster/FLASh90
Elie Wiesel

Whenever I read about the international surge in anti-Semitism and the uptick of racist vitriol, I can’t help but wonder: What would Elie Wiesel say? More importantly, what would Elie Wiesel do?

For decades, he served as the international voice of conscience, the world’s foremost moral authority, our own global compass pointing us in the direction of good and right. He traveled to far-flung places where he stood in rebuke and protest or, alternately, in compassion and solidarity.

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And always, his presence was reassuring. He was our warrior, penetrating dark crevices where few others dared to go, but, at the same time, our beacon also, casting light in places we would never have even known about without Mr. Wiesel as our guide.

Fittingly, Elie Wiesel’s first two books bore the titles of Night and Dawn, and throughout his life he directed our attention to both these polar opposites of the human experience.

I personally felt safer in the world by virtue of his presence in it, believing that his courage, passion, and advocacy shielded the oppressed, the downtrodden, and the persecuted masses of many nations – but, of course, in particular, his fellow Jews.

In fact, if anyone was world Jewry’s international ambassador, it was Elie Wiesel, upon whom we reflexively relied to speak the truth and wage battle on our behalf, daring – with his unparalleled eloquence – to challenge, condemn, and spar with our enemies while many of us sadly remained on the sidelines, apathetic or oblivious, our voices mute.

After Pittsburgh, San Diego, and now North Miami Beach, I waited with hope for some newcomer to enter the media fray and blaze across the nocturnal skies an eloquent and soul-stirring message that would both galvanize and inspire, validate our nightmare but lead us into light.

There were emotional outcries and powerful condemnations, but no one shook the heavens like Mr. Wiesel did. The prophets who populated his books (masquerading as “madmen”) always pierced opaque realities with searing clarity and laser-like vision, approximating Mr. Wiesel’s own. Certainly in this respect he has no worthy successor.

To fix the world, he rose up with fiery wrath or gentle remonstrations in the most eloquent and forceful way, effecting profound change. So, it is especially during these tetherless times – days of havoc and decay, dark nights of the soul in which we are besieged by disquietude – that I and so many countless others miss him the most.

With Mr. Wiesel’s tender but powerful voice silenced, whose will be raised with a comparable clarion call for sanity, love, and justice that will be as electrifying and as effective as our own Nobel Laureate’s? Mr. Wiesel, you are irreplaceable.

It’s a bromide that everyone is easily replaced and quickly forgotten. No one is indispensable, people say. But this perspective is simply not true. With you third yahrzeit just having passed, Mr. Wiesel, I am sure I speak on behalf of millions of people when I say: The world misses you achingly and you are needed now more than ever.

We were deeply blessed to have you live in our midst, and we are now profoundly bereft by your death. Only when the giants are gone do we fully realize their greatness. Your legacy lives on, but your voice has been stilled. In a world gone mad, who will stand up for us now?

May your memory serve as a blessing.

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Yitta Halberstam Mandelbaum is the author of nine books, including the “Small Miracles” series and “Holy Brother: Inspiring Stories and Enchanted Tales about Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach.”