Nobel Prize laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel warned last night against a rising tide of world anti-Semitism.
"There are more anti-Semites today than ever before," Wiesel told an audience at the Park Hyatt Philadelphia at the Bellevue. "The Muslim world is filled with them."
In a somewhat discursive speech to several hundred members of the Lubavitcher sect gathered to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the death of their revered leader, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, Wiesel gave stern warnings to keep the Jewish faith and to support Israel, and offered fond memories of his meetings with their leader, who was known as "the Rebbe."
"Whenever he smiled, the whole world smiled," Wiesel said.
He added that whenever the Rebbe was solemn, he felt worried.
"I felt he knew more than I. He was deeper than I," Wiesel said. With the Rebbe, he said, "nothing was small talk."
"Since he is not here, we must be more than what we are," Wiesel said.
He praised the missionary work the Lubavitcher sect has done within the Jewish community. Wiesel said that, without it, "we would have lost so many young people to drugs, to Jews for Jesus - my God, what a name!"
On the theme of anti-Semitism, Wiesel said that, in his travels around the world, he had encountered a rising tide of concern among Jews. He said he had met Jews who quietly took him aside and asked: "When should we leave?"
"Not 'Should we leave?' " Wiesel noted, but " 'When should we leave?'
"That's it. We live in fear," he said.
Wiesel urged audience members to be stronger in their Jewishness. He also urged them to support Israel.
"We must help Israel with every fiber of our being," Wiesel said. "Never shall we allow Israel to be in danger. Never shall we allow Israel to be weak."