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Words of the Week: Elie Wiesel

I went in search of these words after I heard Sir Ben Kingsley read them from a paper he took from his jacket pocket at the beginning of a discussion that followed a preview screening of “Operation Finale” here in New York on Monday evening.

Source: Elie Wiesel, “Art and Culture After the Holocaust.” Opening lecture presented at an international symposium held in July 1974 at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York; this image is from a reproduction of that lecture in CrossCurrents (Fall 1976), in conjunction with the publication of Auschwitz: Beginning of a New Era? Reflections on the Holocaust (edited by Eva Fleischner) that same year. Wiesel’s lecture was also published in that volume.

Image description: opening paragraphs of Wiesel’s address, accompanied by a photo of Wiesel (credit: Philippe Halsman). The text reads:

Let us tell tales. Let us tell tales—all the rest can wait, all the rest must wait.
Let us tell tales—that is our primary obligation. Commentaries will have to come later, lest they replace or becloud what they mean to reveal.
Tales of children so wise and so old. Tales of old men mute with fear. Tales of victims welcoming death as an old acquaintance. Tales that bring man close to the abyss and beyond—and others that lift him up to heaven and beyond. Tales of despair, tales of longing. Tales of immense flames reaching out to the sky, tales of night consuming life and hope and eternity.
Let us tell tales so as to remember how vulnerable man is when faced with overwhelming evil. Let us tell tales so as not to allow the executioner to have the last word. The last word belongs to the victim. It is up to the witness to capture it, shape it, transmit it and keep it as a secret, and then communicate that secret to others.

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Pre-Shabbat Jewish Literary Links

Image description: pages of Hebrew text.


Every Friday My Machberet presents an array of Jewish-interest links, primarily of the literary variety. Continue reading ›

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Pre-Shabbat Jewish Literary Links

Image description: pages of Hebrew text.


Every Friday My Machberet presents an array of Jewish-interest links, primarily of the literary variety. Continue reading ›

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Pre-Shabbat Jewish Literary Links

Image description: pages of Hebrew text.


Every Friday My Machberet presents an array of Jewish-interest links, primarily of the literary variety. Continue reading ›

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In Memoriam: A Poem from My Archive

This weekend brought the sad news of the passing of Charles Elbaum, a charming man whom I had the pleasure of meeting when his middle son and my bff became engaged in the early 1990s. Over the years, I’ve had the joy of sharing many Elbaum simchas with their family.

Beyond his warmth and sweetness, Charles was quite brilliant (he was a physics professor at Brown University). He was also a Holocaust survivor.

In his memory, I share here a poem I wrote shortly after his eldest grandchild became a Bat Mitzvah, in a service that featured one of these rescued scrolls. Continue reading ›

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Pre-Shabbat #JewLit Links

Every Friday My Machberet presents an array of Jewish-interest links, primarily of the literary variety. Continue reading ›

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