Elie Wiesel speaks at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum about honoring the pledge of "never again" during President Obama's announcement of the creation of the Atrocities Prevention Board (April 2012). 

This weekend we lost a giant. Elie Wiesel passed away at the age of 87. The Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner may be best known for his widely read book “Night,” the story of his time in the concentration camps Auschwitz and Buchenwald. Wiesel was not only a Holocaust survivor, but an outspoken advocate for preventing similar atrocities from happening around the world.

night_cover

Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever. Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.Elie Wiesel, Night.

Wiesel believed that we must always speak out against the horrors of genocide and mass atrocities wherever they occur.

“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

His teaching and wisdom is carried on in the work of Jewish World Watch. As Rabbi Schulweis said in his founding sermon, “We know how essential raising our voice is. We know that silence is lethal and feigned laryngitis, wicked.”

As we mourn the loss of such an inspiring man, we continue the important work of not remaining neutral, of not remaining silent, and of raising awareness and speaking out against atrocities that are committed today.

We remember these words of Elie Wiesel, and hope that they will continue to inspire others into action:

“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”

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