Every year on January 27, the United Nations General Assembly commemorates the anniversary of the liberation of prisoners held at Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp Auschwitz-Birkenau as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
One of the most inspiring human beings of the last century — and one of the far-too-huge list of remarkable people who passed away in 2016 — was author, professor, political activist, Nobel Peace Prize winner and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel. So on this day, and in times like these when antisemitism is terrifyingly on the rise, it feels fitting to remember some of his most important and meaningful quotes.
Photo: David Shankbone, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Wiesel, who was born on September 30, 1928, and passed away on July 2, 2016, at the age of 87, was remarkable not only for having survived one of the most brutal and tragic world events of all time as a suddenly orphaned boy at the young age of only 15, but for his ability to capture and translate the experience of the Holocaust in a way which brought both healing and empathy to people all over the world.
Photo: By Private H. Miller. (Army) - This media is available in the holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration, cataloged under the National Archives Identifier (NAID) 535561., Public Domain
Given his prolific writing, you might think that speaking out about the horrors of the Nazi regime was something Wiesel felt immediately compelled to take on. The truth is that he refused to speak about his experiences at all for the entire first decade after he was liberated by U.S. troops and moved to Paris. There his friend, distinguished French Catholic writer Francois Mauriac, persuaded him to write, and his legendary memoir — Night— was born.
“For the survivor who chooses to testify, it is clear: his duty is to bear witness for the dead and for the living. He has no right to deprive future generations of a past that belongs to our collective memory. To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.” ― Elie Wiesel, Night
In 1955, Wiesel moved to New York City, where he married Marion Erster Rose, who translated many of his books. They had one son, whom they named Shlomo Elisha Wiesel after Elie’s father.
There is a mystical tradition of numerology in Judaism known as Gematria, in which each letter of the Hebrew alphabet is assigned a numerical value.
The Hebrew word for "life" — chai — is composed of the letters chet (ח) and yud (י), which together add up to the number 18. For this reason, the number 18 is associated with long life, good luck and all things positive and hopeful.
And for that reason, I have gathered here 18 Elie Wiesel quotes it seems clear to me the world could use now more than ever before.
Deputy Editor Arianna Jeret, MA/MSW, holds a Masters Degree in Judaic Studies from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and is a former family law mediator, divorce coach and recognized expert on love and relationships. Her work has been featured in Cosmopolitan, The Huffington Post, Yahoo, MSN, Bustle, Parents and more. You can follow her on Twitter for more.