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Elie Wiesel’s Less-Celebrated Role

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Hungarian-born Nobel Peace Prize winner and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel attends a symposium of Jewish-Hungarian solidarity in Budapest's parliament on December 9,2009. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh/File Photo

When Nobel Peace Prize-winner Elie Wiesel died at age 87, the whole world honored him for his noble work in building Holocaust awareness through his novels and personal testimony, for his political activism in fighting genocide around the world, and for his efforts to support a secure, humane state of Israel.

Less well known is his crucial and profound role as a religious teacher: his books—like “Souls on Fire” and “Messengers of God”—and many others, make elements of authentic Jewish tradition accessible and compelling to the widest possible contemporary audience.

Though his best-selling 1958 novel “Night” describes his death camp experiences and questions the existence of a God who could allow such monstrous cruelty, his later work honors the Almighty as the master of new life as well as of death.

Wiesel affirmed that the best way to assure final conquest of the Nazi butchers is to celebrate and renew the timeless faith that Hitler tried to kill.

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