Helping and HealingOn May 18, 1945, American chaplain Rabbi Herschel Schacter conducts a religious service for Jewish survivors of the Buchenwald concentration camp shortly after liberation. (credit: National Archives and Records Administration)

Today marks Yom HaShoah — Holocaust Remembrance Day. Each year it's observed on the 27th day of Nisan in the Hebrew calendar.

To commemorate Yom HaShoah, we wanted to share with you a clip from our program with Elie Wiesel, “The Tragedy of the Believer.” The Nobel laureate is probably best known for his memoir Night, which tells the story of his experiences at the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps during the Holocaust.

During his conversation with Krista in 2003, Wiesel dispels the misconception that he forever lost his faith in God after the war. He also describes how language becomes holy through prayer. In this audio excerpt (download mp3), he recites a prayer he wrote that ends his book, One Generation After

I no longer ask you for either happiness or paradise; all I ask of You is to listen and let me be aware of Your listening.

I no longer ask You to resolve my questions, only to receive them and make them part of You.

I no longer ask You for either rest or wisdom, I only ask You not to close me to gratitude, be it of the most trivial kind, or to surprise and friendship. Love? Love is not Yours to give.

As for my enemies, I do not ask You to punish them or even to enlighten them; I only ask You not to lend them Your mask and Your powers. If You must relinquish one or the other, give them Your powers. But not Your countenance.

They are modest, my requests, and humble. I ask You what I might ask a stranger met by chance at twilight in a barren land.

I ask you, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to enable me to pronounce these words without betraying the child that transmitted them to me: God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, enable me to forgive You and enable the child I once was to forgive me too.

I no longer ask You for the life of that child, nor even for his faith. I only beg You to listen to him and act in such a way that You and I can listen to him together.

They are modest, my prayers, and humble. I ask You what I might ask a stranger met by chance at twilight in a barren land.

I ask You, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to enable me to pronounce these words without betraying the child that transmitted them to me. God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, enable me to forgive You and enable the child I once was to forgive me too.

I no longer ask You for the life of that child, nor even for his faith. I only implore You to listen to him and act in such a way that You and I can listen to him together.


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8Reflections

Reflections

I have long admired Elie Wiesel, and only wish that I were half as eloquent as I write this, yet wanted to offer that his prayer is one of the most beautiful I have ever heard. I feel that it is as moving and healing as St. Francis's prayer, or the Serenity Prayer, or even the Lord's prayer. It must've been divinely inspired.

Yes,Eli Wiesel has said in humility,the greatest gift we can ask of ourselves,of each other and from G-d is to listen to each other and our own inner voices. I like the part of praying that G-d not give to those create suffering" his countenance",as our souls our imbued with the metaphoric countenance of G-d.and lastly ,he is correct that love is an earthly matter to bestowed upon each other.

reading this, and listening to the mp3 is a wonderful way to start my day. thank you

A beautiful prayer.

Peace to all on this day.

wow. wow. wow.

I grew up in Poland and when I was 7 or 8 my parents took me to see Auschwitz, from that point on I have been obssesed with learning everything I could about the Holocaust. I have every children's book ever written about it (and many adult books) and movies and everything. Although I am not Jewish, many Poles perished in concentration camps as well since they were regarded as the second lowest race. My grandparents siblings were sent to work camps in Siberia. I cannot imagine what all these people went through, I cannot understand those that do not believe it happened, but I totally agree with you that it should never be forgotten....to honor those who died, fought, or survived. On my mother's side there is some speculation that her father came from a Jewish family...he left my grandma when my mom was little so we really cannot find out more information (he has passed). All my mom knows is that their family name was shorteded during the war, and once as a little girl she got in trouble from her grandmother when she cam across a menorah and "kippah" (sorry if that is incorrect, I'm not sure what the proper name is) at her grandmothers house.

Hmm - coming across a menorah and a kippah (you spelled it right) really does sound as if your family was Jewish, and maybe hid it, in order to stay alive! How interesting! I wonder if your mother's father left in order to try to help his loved ones survive - not being associated with a Jew... How incredibly, deeply sad the Holocaust makes me! I wish we had more prayers and theology about it. Are you a Catholic? I am a Jew by birth - and I still love Jews and Judaism, am learning Hebrew and all - but I have been led to become a Catholic, too. Just feeling a strong sense of love and help from Jesus. It's hard sometimes - with people who know me and love me, I am open about being a Jewish Christian, but with those who don't I tend to keep secrets. Anyway, I wish you well and hope your spiritual journey brings you light and love.

apples