We at The Philadelphia Jewish Voice are profoundly saddened by the recent death of Elie Wiesel. Although Wiesel experienced the worst of mankind during the Holocaust, he transformed his experience into something extraordinary: He became, as President Obama said, “one of the great moral voices of our time, and in many ways, the conscience of the world.”
Because of his prominence both in and outside the Jewish community, Wiesel has graced the pages of The Philadelphia Jewish Voice many times over the years. Most significantly, Charlie Smolover interviewed him for us in 2007, covering a range of topics from Israel to antisemitism to the Armenian genocide. Wiesel also figured prominently in our coverage of:
- Obama’s visit to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum,
- posthumous baptism of Jews by the Mormon Church and the silence on this issue of then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Naturally, Jewish organizations throughout the world have expressed a sense of loss following Wiesel’s death. For example, B’nai B’rith International described Wiesel as an “(e)minent thinker and author” who taught “us the lessons of history’s darkest moments.” The statement continued, “His passing leaves the world bereft of a profound moral conscience.”
Elie Wiesel exemplified the highest ideals of humankind and our tradition. . . . Those among us who were privileged to know and work closely with Elie for decades were strengthened and enriched by his warmth and intellect, and moved by his unshakeable commitment to prevent evil from ever again gaining even a toehold anywhere against any people.
Political leaders have paid tribute to the famous Holocaust survivor as well. President Obama said that “Elie did more than just bear witness, he acted.” The president continued:
As a writer, a speaker, an activist, and a thinker, he was one of those people who changed the world more as a citizen of the world than those who hold office or traditional positions of power. His life, and the power of his example, urges us to be better.
Elie shouldered the blessing and the burden of survival. In words and deeds, he bore witness and built a monument to memory to teach the living and generations to come the perils of human indifference.
The Philadelphia Jewish Voice joins this chorus of gratitude for the life of Elie Wisel, zt”l, a man dedicated to fighting for the values of justice and tolerance.