From the Editor // Nadine Epstein
This summer we lost Elie Wiesel, a great and kind man who was an inspiration to me. Moment has now lost both of its founders, and I, two friends. Without Elie and Leibel—Leonard Fein—it is more important than ever that Moment continue its work and carry on their legacies.
After Leibel’s death in August of 2014, we produced a book, Leonard Fein: Vision and Passion, a collection of his writings and thoughts in Moment that trace the arc of his thinking from 1975 on. It includes a collection of rarely seen photographs shared by his family, and concludes with a moving afterword by his granddaughter, Liat Deener-Chodirker. This book is available for download on Kindle.
To honor Elie’s memory, we are dedicating this issue to him and planning a similar book. As we begin to ponder his many legacies, we have gathered together the thoughts of friends and colleagues, among them Leon Wieseltier, Bernard-Henri Lévy, Natan Sharansky, Ted Koppel, Menachem Z. Rosensaft, Patrick Desbois, Mark Podwal, Dina Porat, Dan Shapiro and Sara Bloomfield. We also include a poignant interview with Elie’s son, Elisha.
Since Elie’s death, we have received an outpouring of condolences and tributes. There is a small selection of excerpts in our Conversation section. We wish we had room for more, but we plan to post a fuller assortment on our website. In our book section, you will hear from teenagers who have read Elie’s first book, Night, his powerful retelling of his harrowing Holocaust experience. You’ll hear how this seminal book has influenced them, and why they believe it should continue to be read by future generations.
We didn’t plan it this way, but the topics in this issue would have been of great interest to Elie. Moment contributor Liam Hoare reexamines the landmark 2000 libel trial in which scholar Deborah Lipstadt faced down Holocaust denier David Irving. Hoare interviews Irving, who famously lost the case and then virtually disappeared from sight, as well as Lipstadt and the full cast of expert witnesses and lawyers, in anticipation of the release of the feature film Denial. Hoare expertly distills the trial’s lasting significance and discovers that Irving remains an unrepentant defender of Hitler’s innocence.
Each year, we print a long-form article produced through our Daniel Pearl Investigative Journalism Initiative, whose mission is to explore deeply ingrained prejudices around the world. This year’s fellow, Cameron Conaway, traveled to western Myanmar to visit the government displacement camps in which Rohingya Muslims have been confined. This minority faces systemic persecution and has been stripped of its citizenship and rights—a precursor, some believe, to genocide.
Meanwhile, there’s a tumultuous U.S. presidential election to cover, and we hope our columns and interviews will be helpful to readers who may not have made up their minds, or who seek a fuller picture. Democrat William Galston and Republican Tevi Troy share their thoughts on their party’s candidate. This year, unlike other election years, it was particularly hard to find a surrogate willing to discuss the Republican candidate, and we thank Troy for graciously stepping up, although he has not endorsed Trump. There are also election-related columns, including one from an unabashed Trump supporter, Naomi Ragen. Daniel Oppenheimer explores the struggles of Jews who are dismayed by anti-Jewish currents on both the right and the left. Shmuel Rosner explains why Israel is sitting this U.S. presidential election out, and Marshall Breger reveals why neoconservatives may have an unexpected ally in Hillary Clinton. In this issue’s “Ask the Rabbis” section, we explore a campaign-related question: Is it a serious moral failing for a politician to lie?
Think you might need to imbibe to stay calm on election night? If so, turn to “Talk of the Table” to read up on Jews and whiskey. For something completely different, there’s “Jewish Genes as Time Machines,” about my adventures reassembling vanished family through a combination of genealogical sleuthing and genetic analysis. The “Jewish Word” column investigates yiches, a word that has been deeply embedded in the Jewish psyche for centuries. We also take you to the Venice ghetto, which is marking its 500th anniversary with an exhibition and a book. The writer Geraldine Brooks reviews Jonathan Safran Foer’s new novel Here I Am, and children’s book author Daniel Pinkwater gives his opinions about some recent children’s books.
For those of you who don’t know, Moment is a labor of love. Elie understood this, and he fervently wished every Jew—and non-Jew—would read it. “I’m always amazed how Moment continues to be so good,” he said. So please do share Moment with your family and friends, and help us continue his legacy. Shana Tova!