Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion mourns our beloved honorary alumnus Elie Wiesel, tenacious guardian of Holocaust memory, and inspiring advocate for the Jewish people, Israel, and humanity.
Who will be the next generation of those who, as Elie Wiesel did, take tragedy and make it a force for good, compelling us to ever higher ethical standards that reflect the commitments of Jewish tradition? Elie Wiesel never let the enormity of his personal trauma overwhelm him or break his spirit. In fact, he turned that very trauma into an educational opportunity, bringing people from all faith communities to understand the tragedy and ensure that it (and others like it) never recur. Nor did he limit his work to the Holocaust, rather he wrote and spoke broadly, and shared the beauty of so many facets of Jewish thought in ways that brought a divided world together.
Thanks to the courage of individuals like Elie Wiesel, we have models to which we can and must aspire. Let us not allow base hatred and the growing discourse of division to continue to take its human toll upon us. Let us be better than this, working to unite our people, and all people, for the sake of our children, grandchildren, and the generations to come. In a world coming apart, we must begin coming together.
Rabbi Aaron Panken, Ph.D., President