Nobel Prizewinner Sends Off Local Grads

Written by NYPress on . Posted in News Our Town, Our Town.


Graduates of The Birch Wathen Lenox School on the Upper East Side held their graduation ceremony on Thursday, May 23 at the Congregation Rodeph Sholom. Elie Wiesel, the Holocaust survivor, scholar, author and winner of the 1986 Nobel Prize for Peace, was the commencement speaker.

Headmaster Frank J. Carnabuci praised Professor Wiesel as “a hero whom our graduates will always remember not just for his commitment to the betterment of humankind, but also as their commencement speaker who guided them through this monumental moment in their lives. The mission of our school, to inspire students toward active citizenry in the global community, could not have been better supported and validated than it was today.”

Professor Wiesel touched on several themes in his commencement address, including global justice and cultivating a hunger for knowledge.

“Be thirsty for justice. As long as there is one person in the world who for all kinds of wrong reasons – the color of the skin, or the condition of his or her life, or the origin of the family – if there is one person who feels victimized by society or a prisoner of destiny, that person should know that you are his or her ally,” Wiesel said.

“Do not open a book without fervor. Do not go to a classroom without fervor. Fervor is something that gives you only pleasure naturally. It gives you a thirst for knowledge. If I were to ask God to give me something in the few years that remain, it is to remain with this thirst. I am thirsty.”

He left graduates with a small but powerful message: “Above all, remember that sometimes the smile on your lips can bring consolation and joy and meaning to the person next to you.”

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