Honoring Elie Wiesel
As I was completing the content for this website and getting everything ready for its launch, something else happened that deeply affected me. On July 2nd., 2016, Elie Wiesel shifted to a Realm of Truth. Another beautiful and bright light left this corporeal reality that can be so brutal, so cold, and so dark… if it not for people like him.
Elie survived the unsurvivable and both faced and witnessed, firsthand, the ugly face that Humanity is capable of wearing. He faced its deeds, its indifference, and the depth of its ugliness. After trudging through it all, he is now continuing his Soul Journey in Eternity.
Google Elie Wiesel; there are more than 8 million references to him! You will learn very quickly that he was a teacher, a Holocaust survivor, a Nobel-Prize winning author/writer, and a very vocal human rights activist.
However, for me, Elie Wiesel played a different role. We never met… not in the regular way. I met him in the pages of his books. Many of his various titles are “living” in my home. They are my friends. I trust them. They helped me beyond my ability to sufficiently explain to you here.
Just know this. During my darkest hours, I was reading his books and clearly hearing his voice, as well. The effect of his writings was so profound on me, I felt moved to write Elie Wiesel a personal letter; I had to.
After initially contemplating writing him on 1/11/2013, I was finally able to collect enough courage to do so. Below is excerpt from that letter I’d like to share with you as my way to honor him just one more time.
I also hope that you, too, will reach for his books and thereby find pearls of wisdom and words of encouragement, inspiration and support for your own life, just as I had. We must learn from the best how to walk upright!
“Dear Mr. Wiesel,
For the past six months I’ve thought very often about writing to you, and finally here it is. Though we’ve never met in life, I feel I’ve come to know you in the pages of your books. And what an honor that has been. Reading your thoughts, listening to your words of wisdom, your truth…
In times I felt as if I was a little girl in a crowd who was suddenly lifted on the shoulders of a friend or a father so she could see what was happening around her.
In the “Jews of Silence” I recognized my life reflected back to me with warmth, love, and pristine observation. ….
… We too searched for any knowledge about our roots as a starving person is searching for cramps of bread and yet knew almost to nothing about being Jewish except… that it was enough to instill hate and oppression. Our identity was spelled out on the 5th line of every document, including on our library card. We had our own Jewish destiny, our own path. Everyone around us was aware of it. We too.
That is why when we arrived in the US I could not understand how we’d suddenly become Russians and “not Jewish enough.” We experienced conflict after conflict with American Jewry. Especially with the clergy.
We were enough Jewish to be hated, oppressed, persecuted, but not enough to be loved by our own brothers and sisters?…I was not ready for this. I did not know that it was even possible.
.. after 25 years of torment, seeking the root of the issue, the answer softly arrived in the pages of your book: “The Jewish brain killed the Jewish heart.” Simple, elegant, sadly true. I wept. My inner conflict was resolved.…
..But were we heroes back in Russia? I did not feel so. We just did the best we could with what was given to us. We were loyal to our core. To our heart. And we loved. We loved who we were, even if we did not know who we were by the book.
After all of that, only one true question remains to be answered. Are we human enough?
…then your other books, I drank them one after another after another. In “Souls on Fire: Portraits and Legends of Hasidic Masters” Rebbe Menachem-Mendel of Kotzk said, “Man was created not to know happiness but truth.”
Is it possible? Is it possible that we meet Divine Love in the darkness? How else can I explain the soft whisper from deep space that guided me and my family in my dreams during cold nights and gave us hope, when there was none?
…The memories. Your memoirs. The Holocaust. Being a Soviet Jew at the time of my growing up meant being touched by the wings of war. Our grandparents and parents...There are many stories to be told. Does anyone want to hear them?
I did. Your stories, written in a second language. What a work, what a labor. How I understand that! Nothing has stopped you. Should anything stop me? English is my second language as well.
…When in 2008 my 18-year-old son did not come home after work…his night shift with the ambulance company…drunk driver…I needed to survive…to survive my personal holocaust…the death by fire…still do. My soul was burning in the flames of agony and pain…still does.
I went back to what I knew, searching for answers and learning from those who had survived the unsurvivable. My people. My roots.
I had met Victor Frankel a decade before in the pages of his books. I’d done a dissertation on his work as part of it. How did I not hear about you? How is that possible?
Later I understood, your work was saved for me…for my darkest hours…so I could be held on the shoulders of a giant, so I could see the bigger picture. To have more clarity and more courage to speak and write and breathe…all that is taken from us and given to us.
… yes, you are right. We do have two families—one in heaven and one on earth. I speak with my son regularly. He always spoke truth and always were true to who he is. Still is. Still does.
… so it is with you. Your work speaks the truth. It speaks truth to me. Isn’t that why we were created? To learn the truth? But what is the price? What is the price? What you gave me is priceless to me. It is priceless to me. It is priceless to me.
And for that I am deeply grateful to you. Thank you for your work. Thank you for your honesty, your care, and, most of all, your Jewish heart. And what heart that is!
You are such a bright lighthouse for many. For me. Thank you. …
… Thank you. May the light of your soul shine on all of us for many more years to come, through the darkness of the night. “