Michael Douglas, together with Kati Marton, recently presented Elie Wiesel with The Richard C. Holbrooke Award for Social Justice at The Blue Card’s 81st Annual Gala at The New York Public Library. The actor lauded the world-renowned Holocaust survivor, author and activist for “sounding the clarion call to speak out against silence” and carrying on ‘the unending fight for the victim.”
“Michael, my friend” Wiesel responded, “Thank you for your words, your pictures, your work in the world of art.”
“The world has not improved—can it? Can man improve? Can the human condition be better?” he mused and in his signature rabbinic mode posited: ”If I knew the answer, I would write about it. …How is it that the world hasn’t really learned lessons from its own past? You get up in the morning …you go to work to teach, to study—what else can I do to make my humanity deeper?”
“There is enough poverty to make us wonder, what are we doing about it. …enough despair in the world …to question our real commitment to improve the human condition everywhere, not only in our own town” he continued. “We have learned that in life, as God has willed it, human conditions are limitless in both good and in bad.”
Looking out at the 500 guests he declared: “I belong to a generation that has seen probably the darkest of its moments and lived them …but also the happiest. The Day of Liberation…when suddenly, the Americans came in! Days earlier, 10,000 left Buchenwald [to be killed] and [we] were the last to leave literally the last…. we were supposed to leave the next day. ”
White House Liaison to the Jewish Community Matt Nosanchuk presented a recorded message from Vice President Joe Biden in which Biden commended Wiesel for his efforts to educate others about the Holocaust. “From you, Elie, I learned that we have to educate every successive generation exactly about what happened, and we can never, never forget.”
Emceed by WABC-TV anchor Bill Ritter and WABC Radio host Rita Cosby with welcoming remarks by Blue Card’s president Gia Machlin and Executive Director Masha Pearl, the event also honored Sara Wolfensohn, Director of the Wolfensohn Family Foundation with The Irene Hizme Tikkun Olam Award. Rachel Rosenberg — a granddaughter of Holocaust survivors— was presented with Blue Card’s Young Leadership Award.
The Blue Card was established in 1934 in Germany to help those fleeing Nazi persecution and was reestablished in the United States in 1939. Today it remains the only organization whose sole mission is to help needy Holocaust survivors. The event raised $750,000n — the most in its history. The Blue Card has in past years been certified by the Better Business Bureau (BBB)—as well as by the Federal Times— as one of the best Jewish charities.