In the footsteps of Elie Wiesel

SIGHET, ROMANIA – Local leaders and Jewish dignitaries from around the world gathered Thursday in Sighet, the birthplace of Jewish luminary Elie Wiesel, to protest rising antisemitism and commend town officials for acting swiftly after an antisemitic incident there shocked the world.

In August, vandals defaced Wiesel’s childhood home, now a museum. Written in fluorescent pink on the blue and white walls, the Romanian graffiti read “public toilet,” “Nazi Jew lying in Hell with Hitler,” “antisemite pedophile,” as well as the names of world leaders Merkel, Trump and Putin.

But within twenty-four hours, Wiesel’s house had been scrubbed clean, and only a week later, local police arrested a suspect. According to the town’s mayor, Horia Vassily Scubli, the suspect is a 37-year-old mentally unbalanced man from southern Romania who had traveled over 600 kilometers to carry out the deed. The suspect, he said, is now in custody, in the care of mental health professionals.

Organized by Limmud FSU founder Chaim Chesler and the Deputy Chair of March of the Living Aaron Tamir, the event expressed support for the local Sighet community’s campaign against antisemitism and commemorated the late Wiesel’s 90th birthday. Awards were given by the organizers, the Sighet Jewish community, and the Federation of the Jews of Romania to Mayor Scubli and the local chief of police in recognition of their swift work in arresting the suspected perpetrator.

Read the full story from 2018 in The Jerusalem Post.