Elie Wiesel to Receive Brazil’s Highest Civilian Award Aug. 10

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel will go to Brazil next week to receive that government’s highest civilian award, the Gra Cruz of the Ordem Cruzeiro do Sul (Grand Cross of the Order of the Southern Cross), for his contributions to international peace.

The award will be presented to Wiesel by Abren Sodre, Foreign Minister of Brazil, on Monday in the Palacio do Itamarati, Foreign Ministry headquarters, in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil. Wiesel will also be received by Brazilian President Jose Sarney, hold a series of meetings with leading legislators and government officials and deliver two major addresses.

Rabbi Henry Sobel, rabbi of the Congregacao Israelita Paulista in Sao Paulo, the largest Jewish congregation in Latin America, will accompany Wiesel throughout his visit.

Brazil’s 150,000 Jews comprise the second largest Jewish community in Latin American. (Only Argentina’s Jewish population is larger).

During his three-day visit, Wiesel will be the guest of the Confederacao Israelita do Brazil, the central body of the Brazilian Jewish community which is affiliated with the World Jewish Congress, and the Congregacao Israelita.

The U.S.-born Rabbi Sobel, who serves as coordinator of the National Commission for Catholic-Jewish Dialogues, sponsored by the Bishop’s Conference of Brazil, said in a statement that Wiesel’s presence in Brazil “is especially important because a great majority of the 130 million Brazilians is not aware of the horrors of the Holocaust. Neither are most Brazilians sensitive to the spiritual Holocaust of Soviet Jewry in our days. Therefore Mr. Wiesel’s visit will give enormous impetus to the efforts of the Brazilian Jewish community in raising the consciousness of the population at large.”

Commenting on the significance of the award, Marcileo Marques Moreira, Brazil’s Ambassador to the United States, said:

“The Brazilian government identifies Mr. Wiesel as an outstanding world personality in the field of human rights, as someone who throughout his lifetime has fought injustice and striven to make mankind freer of political and social constraints.”

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