Holocaust survivor, author and human rights activist Elie Wiesel joins the ranks of Rosa Parks, Mother Teresa, Jonathan Daniels and others at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.
The Cathedral unveiled the sculpture of Wiesel on Wednesday– he is the first modern Jewish figure to be immortalized at the Cathedral (several Jewish biblical figures are represented). The National Cathedral is considered to be the closest thing to a national house of worship in the United States and Wiesel’s sculpture now adorns the Cathedral’s human rights porch. The Cathedral is affiliated with the Protestant denomination of the Episcopal Church but strives to be a “house of prayer for all people.”
The decision to add Wiesel was made in 2019 and has the blessing of his family. They worked closely with the sculptor to create the piece.
“Throughout his life, Elie devoted himself tirelessly to preserving the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and working to ensure that other communities do not suffer the same fate,” said Marion Wiesel, widow of Elie Wiesel and vice president of the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, said in a press release. “Not only does his presence in the National Cathedral memorialize his life and honor his commitment to human rights; it also ensures that new generations will learn from his teachings and carry the lessons of his life forward into the future.”
Cathedral officials made a point to say that the unveiling of the Wiesel sculpture comes at a time of “rising antisemitism in the United States and around the world.”
“Elie Wiesel’s life is an extraordinary testimony to the indomitable human spirit and the triumph of love of thy neighbor over hatred and fear, even amidst the darkest and most devastating periods of human history,” said The Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, dean of Washington National Cathedral. “From the depths of cruelty inflicted on him, his family, and so many millions of Jews and others during the Holocaust, Elie Wiesel went on to dedicate his life to the pursuit of human rights, and to heed the lessons of history. We are humbled to welcome his likeness to the Cathedral, and pray that his example and legacy will be a blessing and an inspiration to all who enter.”