July 2, 2016
Minneapolis, MN — Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC), issued the following statement mourning the death of Elie Wiesel, z''l:
"The Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC) deeply mourns the passing of Elie Wiesel, z''l.
"Survivor, historian, essayist, journalist, and philosopher, Mr. Wiesel was the conscience of the 20th and 21st centuries. His 1986 Nobel citation noted: '[He] was a messenger of mankind.'
"Mr. Wiesel – who was born into a religious Jewish family from Sighetu Marmaţiei, Romania – survived Auschwitz and Buchenwald bearing tattoo A-7713. His picture in a Buchenwald barracks as an emaciated prisoner became an iconic image of the Shoah (Hebrew for Holocaust).
"Mr. Wiesel's literary voice became a critical call globally for the world's reckoning with the Holocaust. Night – first published in Yiddish (1956) and translated into French (1958) and English (1960) and 30 other languages – introduced by first-hand account millions of readers to the factories of genocide which were the camps.
"From his father and Moshe the Beadle chronicled in Night, Mr. Wiesel transitioned in 1961 to covering the Eichmann trial in Yiddish for The Forward. As historian Deborah Lipstadt noted in The Eichmann Trial, the strategy of prosecutor Gideon Hausner was to put survivors' testimony at the center of the case.
"Thus, Mr. Wiesel both told and taught the story of the Holocaust through his own experiences and provided context and historical content through his reporting on the trial. As Franklin Foer noted for The New York Times (April 8, 2011): '[The Eichmann prosecution] forced the Nazi genocide onto the front pages of the world's newspapers.'
"Both before and long after the trial and for eternity, Mr. Wiesel's writing, speaking, and educating has made the Holocaust front of mind to people the world over some 70 years after the end of World War II and the adjudication of Nazi war criminals at the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg. As Mr. Wiesel also expressed: 'The Nazi crime against the Jewish people should teach us: there may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.'"
As the public affairs voice of the Jewish community, the JCRC fights anti-Semitism and prejudice, advocates for Israel, provides Holocaust education, promotes tolerance and social justice, and builds bridges across the Jewish and broader communities.