Elie Wiesel was a man of many gifts. Among them was a gift for friendship. All over the world, people tell me how close they were to this extraordinary man. Hearing Wiesel speak was like listening to the whisper of eternity. His voice had a haunting magic, speaking words that were wrung from the suffering of his own soul and his indelible witness to the sufferings of others. Even when he discussed something lighthearted, it had gravity. As the scholar for the 100th year of the Sinai Temple, he created many unforgettable moments. Perhaps the most powerful was the last, when a teenager asked if Wiesel could summarize his advice to live a good life. Wiesel offered four words: “Think higher. Live deeper.”
We have lost one of the most eloquent voices in the history of witness. Wiesel spoke for the millions slaughtered by the Nazis, and continued to speak for the bereft all over the world–from Cambodia to the inner cities of our nation. His voice was as large as history, and as gentle as reaching out to a child and never forgetting him. Never forget–that was his creed. Elie Wiesel will never be forgotten. His memory will endure as a spur to our conscience and a blessing to this often benighted world.
Wolpe is the Max Webb senior rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles
This appears in the July 25, 2016 issue of TIME.
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