HOUSTON, TX (Feb. 8, 2012) – Holocaust Museum Houston will honor Holocaust survivor, Nobel Peace Prize recipient and worldwide voice of conscience Elie Wiesel with its internationally recognized Lyndon Baines Johnson Moral Courage Award in honor of his tireless, life-long service to stop hatred around the world, the Museum has announced.
2012 Lyndon Baines Johnson Moral Courage Honoree Elie Wiesel. (Photo courtesy, Sergey Bermeniev)
Wiesel will receive the award during the Museum’s annual dinner set for Monday, May 7, 2012. Registration begins at 6 p.m., with the dinner at 7 p.m. at the Hilton Americas-Houston, 1600 Lamar, under the theme “From Night to Light – An Evening with Elie Wiesel.”
The annual event – one of the city’s largest and most widely recognized philanthropic dinners – supports the worldwide educational programs of the Museum. Proceeds also enable the Museum to offer free admission to the public. More than 850 people attended last year’s dinner.
Chairing this year’s event are Museum Vice-Chair Isabel David and her husband Danny. Long-time Houston philanthropists Lester and Sue Smith will serve as honorary chairs.
“Elie Wiesel's often repeated statement ‘...to remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all…’ stands as a succinct summary of his views on life and has served as the driving force of his life’s work. His books and lectures have educated millions of children around the world about the importance of individual moral courage to stand up to injustice," said Museum Chair Tali H. Blumrosen.
Indeed, when Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, the Norwegian Nobel Committee called him a "messenger to mankind," stating that through his struggle to come to terms with "his own personal experience of total humiliation and of the utter contempt for humanity shown in Hitler's death camps," as well as his "practical work in the cause of peace," Wiesel had delivered a powerful message "of peace, atonement and human dignity" to humanity.
Wiesel is the author of 36 works dealing with Judaism, the Holocaust and the moral responsibility of all people to fight hatred, racism and genocide.
He was born in 1928 in Sighet, Transylvania, which is now part of Romania. He was 15 years old when he and his family were deported by the Nazis to Auschwitz. His mother and younger sister perished, his two older sisters survived. Wiesel and his father were later transported to Buchenwald, where his father died shortly before the camp was liberated in April 1945.
After the war, Wiesel studied in Paris and later became a journalist. During an interview with the distinguished French writer, Francois Mauriac, he was persuaded to write about his experiences in the death camps. The result was his internationally acclaimed memoir “Night” (La Nuit), which has since been translated into more than 30 languages.
In 1978, President Jimmy Carter appointed Wiesel as chairman of the President's Commission on the Holocaust. In 1980, he became the founding chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. He is president of The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, an organization he and his wife created to fight indifference, intolerance and injustice. Wiesel has received more than 100 honorary degrees from institutions of higher learning.
A devoted supporter of Israel, Wiesel has also defended the cause of Soviet Jews, Nicaragua's Miskito Indians, Argentina's Desaparecidos, Cambodian refugees, the Kurds, victims of famine and genocide in Africa, of apartheid in South Africa, and victims of war in the former Yugoslavia. For more than 15 years, Wiesel and his wife Marion have been especially devoted to the cause of Ethiopian-born Israeli youth through the Foundation's Beit Tzipora Centers for Study and Enrichment.
Teaching has always been central to Wiesel's work. Since 1976, he has been the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University, where he also holds the title of University Professor. He is a member of the faculty in the Department of Religion as well as the Department of Philosophy. Previously, he served as Distinguished Professor of Judaic Studies at the City University of New York (1972-76) and the first Henry Luce Visiting Scholar in Humanities and Social Thought at Yale University (1982-83).
For his literary and human rights activities, he has received numerous awards including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal, the National Humanities Medal, the Medal of Liberty and the rank of Grand-Croix in the French Legion of Honor. In 1986, Wiesel won the Nobel Prize for Peace, and soon after, he and Marion Wiesel established The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity.
Holocaust Museum Houston created the Lyndon Baines Johnson Moral Courage Award in 1994 in cooperation with the Johnson family.
In 1938, as a young congressman, Johnson stretched the limits of his authority and risked his personal dreams to provide American sanctuary for threatened European Jews. It is because of these acts of moral courage that the Museum proudly named the award in his honor. The award recognizes either a single righteous act or a lifetime of morally courageous behavior.
Previous recipients have included activist and actress Mia Farrow; humanitarian John Prendergast of the Enough Project; U.S. Sen. John McCain; television producer Norman Lear; the Houston community of Holocaust survivors; the late Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter who was murdered by terrorists in Pakistan; activist Sir Bob Geldof; former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell; former U.S. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, Jr.; former U.S. Sen. Robert Dole; filmmaker Steven Spielberg; and former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, among others.
Tables of 10 are available beginning at $6,000. Individual tickets begin at $600 each. To RSVP or to reserve a table, call 713-942-8000, ext. 129, or e-mail HMHDinner@hmh.org.
PaperCity magazine is serving as media sponsor for the event.
Holocaust Museum Houston is dedicated to educating people about the Holocaust, remembering the 6 million Jews and other innocent victims and honoring the survivors' legacy. Using the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides, the Museum teaches the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy.
Holocaust Museum Houston is free and open to the public and is located in Houston’s Museum District at 5401 Caroline St., Houston, TX 77004. For more information about the Museum, call 713-942-8000 or visit www.hmh.org.