'Most remarkable human being I had ever known': Montrealers remember Wiesel
Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel is being remembered by Montrealers as a hero of humanity.
Wiesel, who died in New York Saturday at age 87, visited Montreal on more than one occasion, most recently in 2009, where his speech drew a crowd of 2,000.
“The Holocaust left him indelibly scarred,” said Alice Herscovitch, executive director of the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre. “Nonetheless, he was able to do something so constructive and positive with his life. He influenced millions of people around the world… He called himself a witness who was able to speak, who was able to tell the story of the Holocaust in a human way.”
Former federal justice minister Irwin Cotler knew Wiesel for 40 years.
“To me he was the most remarkable human being I had ever known, the person I would regard as the conscience of humanity,” he said, adding that Cotler invited Wiesel to Montreal soon after he won the Nobel Peace Prize.
“(He was) a person who had the moral courage to stand up against injustice,” he said.
When he was last in Montreal, Wiesel spoke at the Beth Israel Beth Aaron synagogue.
“When he spoke here in the synagogue after his speech he was surrounded - mobbed - by survivors and children of survivors and the gentleness and the patience was really breathtaking,” said Rabbi Reuben Poupko.