“Our lives no longer belong to us alone.”

It was on this date five years ago that Elie Wiesel died.

The Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate felt a tremendous responsibility to bear witness to all that he and others suffered.

“If I survived, it must be for some reason: I must do something with my life. It is too serious to play games with anymore because in my place someone else could have been saved. And so I speak for that person. On the other hand, I know I cannot,” he told a New York Times interviewer in 1981.

This evening I re-read Wiesel’s brief Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech from a few years later in 1986.

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What is Done When at a Loss of What to Do

I just flipped open to an essay by Elie Wiesel entitled, “The Death of My Father” which begins with the words: “The anniversary of the death of a certain Shlomo ben Nissel falls on the eighteenth day of the month of Shevat.” Since it was just recently Tu B’Shvat [the fifteenth day of Shevat], it so happens that today is the eighteenth day of this Hebrew month.

Since his father was murdered in Buchenwald, Wiesel discusses finding himself unable to conform to the ritual traditions of Jewish mourning that include going to synagogue, studying the Mishnah, saying the orphan’s Kaddish, and proclaiming God’s holiness.

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