Tolerance museum head to address Republicans


NEW YORK, Aug. 2 (JTA) — The founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center was scheduled to address the importance of tolerance and combating hate in remarks to the Republican National Convention this week.

Before he delivered his three-and-a-half-minute speech in Philadelphia on Wednesday evening, Marvin Hier said he would address the lessons of the Holocaust for people today.

“The freedoms we cherish are not given in perpetuity,” Hier told JTA he planned to say.

“If there is hate in our homes and schools today, it will be in our boardrooms and factories tomorrow.”

He also planned to use as inspiration the legacy of Anne Frank, the Dutch Jewish girl whose diary of her family’s life in hiding from the Nazis has become famous around the world.

“The child’s voice has outlasted the shouts of her murderers,” Hier said he would tell the delegates.

The invitation to speak came after Republican presidential candidate Gov. George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, visited the center’s Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles earlier this year.

The governor and his wife were scheduled for a one-hour visit, but stayed for three-and-a-half hours, said Hier.

“His aides could not get him away,” he said.

Hier was one of several speakers at the convention representing nonprofit organizations.

Earlier, the Republican Party called on an Illinois rabbi to give an invocation at its national convention this week.

Rabbi Victor Weissberg, spiritual director at Rosewood Rehabilitation Center in Northbrook, Ill., drew from the Book of Psalms the idea of following God to find truth.

“The voice of duty is the voice of God, a commanding voice, asking us to do justly, love mercy and walk humbly as leaders of the free world,” Weissberg told the GOP delegates Monday night.

As the convention got under way this week in Philadelphia, several religious leaders were asked to say a prayer before different sessions.

Weissberg touched on themes of freedom, hope and opportunity, and continuing the revolution in human destiny.

“Gird us with strength that we may labor to eliminate the debilitating scourges of poverty, violence, ignorance and disease, from all who are caught in the net of tragic circumstances and help all live and labor with hope of better days,” Weissberg prayed.

A media staffer for the convention said Weissberg, like all speakers, was chosen to represent the diversity of the party.

Weissberg began his rabbinical service in 1953 at Chicago’s Temple Isaiah-Israel and serves as Rabbi Emeritus at Chicago’s Temple Beth-El. Weissberg is also a member of the National Honorary Education Fraternity and the Chicago Board of Rabbis.

Weissberg is the author of several books including “Jerusalem in Eschatology,” “Psalms and Psychotherapy” and “History of Jews of Turkey in the 17th Century.”

He also has taught in numerous academic institutions.

(JTA staff writer Sharon Samber in Washington contributed to this report.)

Recommended from JTA