Elisha Wiesel, the son of late Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, lit a torch in memory of his father at this year’s March of the Living in Poland
Excerpts from an Op-Ed by Elisha Wiesel published April 25th, 2017 on ynetnews.com
My father, Elie Wiesel, was a witness to the worst atrocity that man has ever unleashed on fellow man. ...My father never forgot. The things he saw stayed with him all the days of his life. He lived to speak of them to me, and to my children. My father was a witness. He was a witness to the worst atrocity that man has ever unleashed on fellow man. And he was a witness who believed that to acknowledge the suffering of another—and to have them feel less alone—was an imperative for every human being. He spoke for victims around the world: Rwanda, Bosnia, Darfur. The thought that genocides could occur in the wake of the Holocaust haunted him.
But my father was a witness to more than the Holocaust, he was a witness to the Jewish lives in Eastern Europe which it had claimed. He was a witness to his parents’ beliefs and their traditions and their values, some of which continued even in this place, even in that time: the father and son saving crusts of bread for each other, the Rabbis condemning God at trial and then praying the evening prayer. ...And my father was also a witness to a miracle, the miracle that was the creation of the State of Israel [where] the Jewish people would never again be left to the world’s mercy. He was a witness to all these things.
What are you a witness to? Are you a witness to the crimes that occurred here? Will you be
silent while history is in danger of being rewritten, while voices in France are now denying the Vichy government’s enthusiasm for the rounding up of Jews? Or will you be a witness that history’s lessons are going unheeded, when many in both Europe and the United States want to turn away Muslim refugees fleeing chemical warfare in Syria? Will you stand by when African-Americans have reason to be terrified of a routine traffic stop, when Christians are slaughtered in Egypt because they are labelled infidels, when girls in Chad, Somalia, Afghanistan and Pakistan are threatened, raped, or shot for pursuing an education, when homosexuality in Iran is a crime that carries the death penalty? Or will you be a witness to those who live in fear because of the color of their skin, or their gender, or their religion, or their non-belief, or their sexual preference?
...I [will be a witness] standing in the place where my father and mother’s families were sent to die... I am a witness to history and to a generation of heroes, to the veterans of the Allied Forces who liberated these camps and put themselves in harm’s way to break the grasp of Fascism. I am a witness to my father’s deep and undying connection to his people, and to his belief in our collective humanity regardless of ethnicity or borders.
...Each Friday night, we light the candles and sing the songs and welcome in the Shabbat together. And my wife and I once again become witnesses that the enemy has failed; we become witnesses that Am Yisrael Chai - we, the Jewish people, live.
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