NEW YORK (Jan. 7)
A glittering assembly of famous and distinguished artists and diplomats gathered Tuesday night to pay tribute to Elie Wiesel, winner of the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize. During the two-and-a-half -hour program of readings, singing and short speeches by some of the celebrities, Wiesel’s own message of never forgetting the Holocaust was repeatedly echoed.
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, actresses Shelley Winters and Ellen Burstyn, actor Jason Robards, opera singers James McCracken and Roberta Peters, composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein, and Israel’s Consul General in New York, Ambassador Moshe Yegar, were among the 150 celebrity guests who came to the Tavern on the Green restaurant in Central Park to pay tribute to the Holocaust survivor, author, teacher and philosopher, who became the unofficial spokesperson for the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust.
The reception and tribute was organized and sponsored by Writers and Artists for Peace in the Middle East. Actress Kitty Carlisle Hart was the chairperson of the event and actor Warner Le Roy was the host.
Wiesel, visibly touched by the occasion, told this reporter “I am really moved. It is always good to see artists and writers get together. It is even better to see them get together for the sake of peace.”
George Will, the noted columnist and commentator, said, “Elie Wiesel is a man who speaks for all of us.” Sister Carol Rittner, an executive of the Religious Sisters of Mercy in Washington, D.C., said, “For me, Elie Wiesel is a teacher. He taught me that a religion is a window through which we can see the plight of others.”
Kissinger, who said he first met Wiesel while he was Secretary of State, recalled that he himself lost 13 members of his family during the Holocaust. Winters movingly told about an uncle of hers who lost all the members of his family in the Holocaust and how she witnessed his tormented soul many years thereafter until he died recently in Israel.
Bernstein presented Wiesel with the Distinguished Award of the Writers and Artists for Peace in the Middle East. The award was a painting by Milton Glazer.
Other guests at the tribute included sculptors Louise Nevelson and Chaim Gross, pianist Misha Dichter, Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, and Telford Taylor, who was the special U.S. prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials.