Elie Wiesel Photo Exhibition gives Extraordinary Look at Novelist, Humanitarian, Leader

Elie Wiesel, Nobel acceptance speech (December 1986); from the exhibit catalogue
Elie Wiesel, Nobel acceptance speech (December 1986); from the exhibition catalogue

Limmud FSU, in partnership with the Shem Olam Institute and the Nativ organization, today opened a photographic survey of the life of Elie Wiesel, at the Israeli Cultural Center in Moscow. The exhibition, Elie Wiesel: from Sighet to New York via France and Israel, will run until the end of September.

Wiesel was a leading supporter of the movement to free Soviet Jewry and in 1966 wrote a highly influential book on the struggle. “It’s fitting that Elie Wiesel was honored in Moscow by the very people he helped free 50 years after writing ‘The Jews of Silence,’” said Chaim Chesler, founder and chair of Limmud FSU. “His memory will serve as an inspiration and a symbol of our triumph.”

Dr. Yoel Rappel, the founder and director of the Elie Wiesel Archive at Boston University, curated the exhibition, which showcases milestones in Wiesel’s life, from his youth before and during the Holocaust to his work as a novelist, journalist, Jewish leader and Nobel Prize winner.

“When I asked Wiesel how the struggle for Soviet Jewry is more important than the struggle for Holocaust awareness, he replied: ‘the Jews of Europe were exterminated physically by the Nazis; the Jews of the Soviet Union were being destroyed spiritually. The first we were unable to avoid, but we must prevent the second from succeeding,’” said Rappel.

Wiesel was born in 1928 in Sighet, Transylvania, now in Romania. He was just 15 years old when the Nazis deported him and his family to Auschwitz. His mother and younger sister perished, yet his two older sisters survived. Elie and his father were later transported to the Buchenwald concentration camp, where his father died shortly before the camp was liberated in April 1945.

In 1978, President Jimmy Carter appointed Wiesel as chairman of the President’s Commission on the Holocaust. In 1980, he became the founding chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council. Wiesel and his wife Marion established the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, to combat indifference, intolerance and injustice. During his lifetime, Wiesel received 140 honorary degrees from institutions of higher learning all over the world.

The entire exhibition may be viewed or downloaded here.