It has been just over 24 hours, but so many eloquent and inspiring words have been written in memory of Elie Wiesel. There is little to add to the many eulogies and essays that have appeared everywhere but I will try to add my own words, inadequate as they may be.
After a period of silence, Elie Wiesel dared to present to the world his theological and philosophical struggles in light of his horrifying experience during the Shoah. By doing so, he told us all that it is reasonable, in fact, it is obligatory for us to wrestle with this world- and with God.
He came out of the Shoah believing that Never Again meant not only that we had to protect ourselves as a people but that Never Again meant Never Anywhere to Anybody and he tirelessly worked for human rights for those suffering throughout the world while always remembering his own people and our struggles.
Elie Wiesel awakened us to many suffering communities and nations including the Jews of the former Soviet Union. In his book: “The Jews of Silence”, he let us all know about what he had seen in the U.S.S.R. and that book was a major factor in launching the Soviet Jewry movement which eventually celebrated the release of hundreds of thousands of Jews from modern day slavery.
There is one other point that I want to add. Elie Wiesel was able to smile.
In spite of so much oppression that he suffered and that he witnessed, Elie Wiesel was able to appreciate the beauty of the world and the importance of relationships with others. He did not give up on his faith in humanity.
While it is perhaps one of the least important accomplishment in his life, Elie Wiesel did something that most people do not remember. But, I certainly do. He threw out the first ball in the 2nd game of the World Series in 1986 between the Mets and the Red Sox. There is a whole story about that that you can read on line. I mention it only because it shows a person who was able to inspire us with the loftiest dreams and remind us of our greatest obligations while remaining always a mentsch.
Usually we say: “May his memory be for a blessing”. This time we don’t have to say that. It always will be. May he rest in peace and may we continue to be inspired by this giant of a man.