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.

Pre-Shabbat Jewish Literary Links

Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen
Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen
Every Friday My Machberet presents an array of Jewish-interest links, primarily of the literary variety.

  • Beautiful poem by Julia Knobloch, “The Kabbalist’s Son,” over on Jewcy.
  • Via JTA: “The new PJ Library edition of [football star Julian Edelman]’s ‘Flying High’ includes extra material on the front and back flaps that emphasizes the story’s Jewish content and values. There is also a new reference to Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism. The dedication page includes one of Herzl’s most famous quotes: ‘If you will it, it is no dream.'”
  • I warn you to have tissues at the ready when you watch this powerful Holocaust-related “op-doc” video feature over on NYTimes.com.
  • And then, although it certainly could not have been intended as a “companion” piece, that’s what came to mind as I watched this seven-minute film, via TheAtlantic.com: “In 1939, the German American Bund organized a rally of 20,000 Nazi supporters at Madison Square Garden in New York City. When Academy Award-nominated documentarian Marshall Curry stumbled upon footage of the event in historical archives, he was flabbergasted. Together with Field of Vision, he decided to present the footage as a cautionary tale to Americans.”
  • “Jewish Currents is launching its sixth annual Raynes National Poetry Contest. The submission season runs from October 15, 2017 to January 15, 2018.” This year’s theme is “Facts, Fakes, and Fictions.” NB: Although on my other blog and in my newsletter I limit contest and similar opportunity listing to those that don’t charge fees, I make an exception on the My Machberet blog because the pool for specifically Jewish-lit calls and competitions is so much smaller. So, yes, there’s a fee involved if you want to enter this contest.
  • Shabbat shalom.