Yemin Orde remembers Elie Wiesel, a great and inspiring friend to Israel’s youth.Elie Wiesel

In 2008, Yemin Orde Youth Village hosted Elie Wiesel and his wife, Marion, at the dedication ceremony of the Marion and Elie Wiesel Children’s Home.  The home was made possible by the Jack and Elisa Klein Foundation, a supporting foundation of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco.

Elie Wiesel addressed Yemin Orde’s youth, many who suffered childhood traumas, and spoke about the importance of forgiveness and compassion. “Make your lives a work of generosity,” he said. “Build a small thing here, a small community; then on the national level, and then on the international level. And know that you have the right to speak up. And when you speak, the world must listen.”

Today, approximately 25 at-risk children from around the world live in the home – for many it is their only home in Israel.

Marion Wiesel, also spoke at the children’s home dedication and reflected on the sense of hope for the future  the Village provides its at-risk youth, who are Israel’s next generation of leaders. “When I think of Israel, I think of brainpower, military and culture. But when I think of Israel’s heart, I think of Yemin Orde,” she said.

Read Chaim Peri’s reflections on his dear friend, Elie Wiesel.

Dearest Chaverim ,
The news about Elie Wiesel made me speechless for hours. While my thoughts were wandering, I was hearing his voice saying – what I heard from him more than once – “Whenever you need my help, let me know, and I’ll do what I can” – and then, emphasizing – “always!”

Elie-Rwandan survivors
Chaim Peri introduces Elie Wiesel to Rwandan educators visiting Yemin Orde to learn about the Village Way and bring the methodology to their country.

I recall Elie’s most inspirational meetings with Rwandan educators who came to us to learn about “the Village Way”.  Later he met our Ethiopian-born graduates who went to Rwanda in a mission titled ” from Tikkun Halev to Tikkun Olam.” Elie loved it.  It was a living proof of “light unto nations.”

This get-together took place in Jerusalem the day after Tisha B’av, and I was really marveling why Elie insisted it to be on Tisha B’av in Jerushalayim. Why not come to celebrate one of the major holidays?

When I think of it, what comes to mind is, that it was not really a matter of choice. Rather his way to endure Tisha B’av. Only by being in sovereign Israel on the very day that marks all accumulated calamities of our entire history as a people, could he somehow derive joy for the other year round holidays. Perhaps, absorbing into his being the full essence, in space and time, of Tisha B’av B’Yerushalayim, made him a year round Jerusalemite – wherever he physically was. This enabled him to accomplish on behalf of his people, what can not be regarded no less than Kiddush Hashem.

That is why this morning I felt that Kaddish should be said here, too, on the earth that is inseparable from Eliezer Wiesel.

Recalling how he himself carefully uttered, word by word the Kaddish for Zipporah his little sister here in Israel, I can sense him agreeing. It was when Beit Zipporah was inaugurated at Kiryat Malachi. This outstanding center – not the only one in Israel to bear the name Wiesel – was the second that Marion, bless her, created and maintained, for the advancement of Ethiopian children. She had to overcome unthinkable difficulties, but the gratitude and the smiles of the happy children made it all worthwhile, and Elie was so proud of her.

Chaim
chaim@derechkfar.org.il

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