13 actions in honor of the 8th yahrzeit of Professor Elie Wiesel

Beginning tonight through tomorrow, we commemorate the anniversary of the passing of Elie Wiesel, known as a ‘yahrzeit’ in the Jewish tradition. In the eight years since Professor Wiesel’s passing, the lessons he lived to teach have only grown more important; his unique brand of personal, passionate humanitarianism will always be valuable.

We are preparing to house The Wiesel Collection, which will be invaluable as we channel his spirit in using the lessons of the Holocaust to confront rising antisemitism, Holocaust ignorance, and Holocaust denial. We strive to teach and inspire through Professor Wiesel’s values, which are now the cornerstones of Holocaust remembrance and education.

A consummate educator, he advised everyone from American Presidents to students at Eckerd College here in St. Petersburg. Every lesson he transmitted was a call to conscience and a call to action.

In the spirit of taking action, Dr. Avraham (Alan) Rosen and Dr. Ariel Burger, students of Professor Wiesel, offer 13 simple yet meaningful deeds we all can do to honor his memory and legacy through thoughtfulness and good works. Please take a moment to perform one or all, in memory of Elie Wiesel, devout Jewish teacher and writer, Holocaust survivor, Nobel Peace Prize winner, and consummate Upstander.

13 actions in honor of Professor Elie Wiesel

  1. Listen to somebody who needs to be listened to.
  2. Choose a tale from Souls on Fire, Sages and Dreamers, Filled with Fire and Light, or another of Professor Wiesel’s books, and read it aloud to a friend, a child, a grandchild, or a grandparent. Discuss it together.
  3. Gather with family or friends to listen to or watch one of Professor Wiesel’s many astonishing lectures at the Elie Wiesel Archive at the 92nd Street Y and take notes.
  4. Watch this committee hearing with eyewitness testimony about the ongoing oppression of the Uyghur community and commit to sharing it. Note Elisha Wiesel’s powerful remarks at the beginning.
  5. Gather with a small group of friends. Pick a theme, like “Faith”, Exile”, or “Protest”, and generate 20 questions about it. You don’t need to answer any of them now, just record them, and then discuss.
  6. Go somewhere where there are hungry people. Buy someone a meal with a smile.
  7. Record yourself singing to a child. This is a small part of your legacy.
  8. Read the newspaper or the news online and write a poem about something broken in the world, how you feel about it, and how it might be fixed or addressed.
  9. Leave a note of encouragement in a public place where someone in need will find it.
  10. Write your ethical will. Tell your children, or friends, or students what you have lived for, what your deepest beliefs are, and what your hopes are for them.
  11. Decide to be a Upstander and not a Bystander. This means refusing to ignore the suffering of others, increasing your sensitivity to those around you, and taking responsibility for the world around you. Write this commitment down and put it somewhere you will see it every day.
  12. Choose one sentence or phrase from Professor Wiesel’s writings. Share with a friend what each word means to you.
  13. Give charity in the merit and memory of Professor Wiesel, saying out loud that you’re doing so for Eliezer ben Shlomo Halevi, of righteous memory.