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October 14: Elie Wiesel’s Nobel Peace Prize

Lawrence Bush
October 13, 2016
Romanian-born writer and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on this date in 1986 as “one of the most important spiritual leaders and guides in an age when violence, repression and racism continue to characterize the world,” according to the Nobel Committee. “Wiesel is a messenger to [hu]mankind; his message is one of peace, atonement and human dignity. His belief that the forces fighting evil in the world can be victorious is a hard-won belief. His message is based on his own personal experience of total humiliation and of the utter contempt for humanity shown in Hitler’s death camps. The message is in the form of a testimony, repeated and deepened through the works of a great author. . . . Wiesel’s commitment, which originated in the sufferings of the Jewish people, has been widened to embrace all repressed peoples and races.” Wiesel, who died at 81 on July 2 of this year, wrote fifty-seven books, including his classic work about Auschwitz and Buchenwald, Night (1960), which was a redaction of a 900-page Yiddish manuscript. A key player in the establishment of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., Wiesel was one of the world’s most authoritative voices in defense of human rights. “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” --Elie Wiesel

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.