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November 09, 1979 - Image 40

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1979-11-09

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

40 Friday, November 9, 1919

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Wiesel Lauds Lubavitch, Talks to Holocaust Educators

Author Elie Wiesel inau-
gurated a series of public
lectures on behalf of
Lubavitch Tuesday evening
at the newly-acquired
Lubavitch Education Cen-
ter (Labor Zionist Insti-
tute).
an
to
Speaking

invitation-only audience of
more than 200, Wiesel, who
described himself as a Hasid
from Vizhnitz, told of his
20-year admiration for the
Lubavitcher Rebbe and his
movement.
"What makes a Hasid?"
Wiesel asked the audience.

"A Hasid does everything a
good Jew does, but with one
difference — passion." He
described the Rebbe as one
of the great Jewish leaders
of more than one generation
"and on more than one
level."
"To be a Jew means to

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start again. The Hasidith
take a simple story and
endow it with secrets. A
simple event is endowed
with meaning. Nothing is
as simple as you think it
is."
Wiesel told numerous
personal anecdotes and
stories of the beginnings of
the Lubavitch movement in
illustrating to the audience
the importance of the
Lubavitch's work.
He described the pur-
chase of the Labor Zionist
Institute as a new begin-
ning for Chabad in this
area.
"The thing I like about
Chabad," he said, "is their
belief . . . and their
tolerance. There is an ele-
gance in what they do. They
have strength, but with
gentleness. Hasidut means
gentleness.
"I see their work with
small children and on the
college campuses, espe-
cially the small campuses,
out of the main stream."
Noted for his writings and
stories about mysticism, as
well as the Holocaust and
Jewry today, Wiesel de-
scribed the beginnings of
the Chabad movement and
its effects on Jewry.
"The Baal them Tov
shook up Eastern European
Jewry," he said. "He sur-
prised everybody because
nobody knew who he
was.He did not come from a
famous family. But the man
who had no name became
the Master of the Good
Name.
"The Baal Shem Tov
exemplified the lower strata
of our people. He was al-
ways poor. gut he showed
the people the beauty of
Judaism and brought all the
Jews together by appealing
to their sense of beauty."
Wiesel then told the
story of how the Baal
Shem Toy escorted the
children to school. For
the first time in their lives
the children did not run
to school, in fear of at-
tacks from their
neighbors. He had them
walk to school, singing,
and looking at the sky,
the trees, the land.
In a span of 24 years, until

Wiesel spoke to Sister
Carol Rittner of Mercy
College of Detroit, Dr.
Charles Benham of the
Detroit Round Table of
the National Conference
Christians and Jews, Irv-
ing Panush and Norman
Naimark of the Jewish
Community Council and
several members of De-
troit's Holocaust Memo-
rial Center.
"You cannot compare the
Holocaust to the massacre
of the Armenians by the
Turks, to the destruction of
the American Indians or to
anything else in history," he
said. "The event is unique.
And it is universal, but its
universality lies in its
uniqueness.
"We are not all survivors
of the Holocaust. If you say
that everyone suffered, it
means nobody suffered.
There were only six million
victims of the Holocaust.
"A lot of other people died,
but they were victims of
World War II, not of the
Holocaust."

his death in 1760, the Baal
Shem gave Jewry a -spark,
Wiesel said. Hasidism
evolved and became three
modes of love: love of God,
love of Torah and love of fel-
low man. Wiesel said the
Baal Shem was the first to
emphasize the necessity of
all three and the need for
each to continuously grow.
He told stories about
Lubavitch rabbis , through
the years to illustrate the
warmth and beauty of the
movement.
Wiesel also described his
summer visit to Poland,
Moscow and Israel as
chairman of the President's
Commission on the
Holocaust.
He said there were
many occasions on that
journey which illustrated
the need for the
Lubavitch movement, to
inform Jews of how to
celebrate their Jewish-
ness. "The words of the
Shema involuntarily
came to me while I was
standing at Auschwitz,"
Wiesel said. An Au-
schwitz survivor, he said
he did not want to return
to the death camp. But
while there, his heart and
mind knew what to say as
a Jew.
"The Chabad helps us to
know what to say . . . in Au-
schwitz, in Jerusalem, at
the Western Wall.
"Hasidism means to go
from place to place, to find a
spark here and there and
collect all the sparks and
offer them to other Jews in
gratitude."

If a man can see both
sides of a problem, you know
that none of his money is
tied up in it.
—Verda Ross

The meeting was chaired
by Irving Laker, who de-
scribed the various activi-
ties of Lubavitch. Jack
Shenkman and David
Hermelin made a presenta-
tion on behalf of Lubavitch
to Avern Cohn, in honor of
his recent investiture to the
federal court bench. Cohn
helped finalize the purchase
of the building for
Lubavitch.
Cohn's father, Irwin, -in-
troduced Wiesel.
* * *
At an earlier meeting,
Wiesel spoke out against
the "watering down" of the
meaning of the Holocaust
by educators who teach that
the destruction of European
Jewry can be compared to
the sufferings of other
peoples.

-

Jews have always served
as a "test case" for the evil
deeds, Wiesel said.
"When the Warsaw
Ghetto was burning,
there were no Christians
there. A year later, War-
saw was burning. I'm
convinced if anything
had been done for the
Warsaw Ghetto, the de-
struction of Warsaw
would have been pre-
vented.
"If we can remember the
Holocaust, we may prevent
another such happening in
the future."
Sister Carol, who teaches
about the Holocaust at
Mercy College, a Catholic
institution, asked how a
non-Jew who never experi-
enced the suffering of the
Jewish victims could teach
about it.
"The Holocaust is a sac-
red subject," said Wiesel,
"but sacredness comes from
within, not without. One
doesn't need to experience
an event to feel its sacred-
ness."
The rest of the world is
only now beginning to
learn about the
Holocaust, he said.
"We survivors have not
even begun to talk," he said.
"One day we will and the
earth will tremble."

* *

*

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Author Elie Wiesel met with a group of Holocaust
survivors and educators on Tuesday prior to speak-
ing here on behalf of Lubavitch. Shown are, from left,
Sonia Popowski, Rabbi Charles Rosenzveig, Wiesel,
Sister Carol Rittner, Dr. Charles Benham and Leon
Halpern.

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