Deborah Katchko-Gray
Pioneer woman cantor, artist and Bubbie.

Remembering Elie Wiesel

A moment in Elie Wiesel's study at Boston University
Meeting with my Mentor Elie Wiesel in his office at Boston University

Remembering Elie Wiesel

I think about my teacher and mentor most days, but Sept. 30, 1928 is his birthday and that makes me think about him even more.

There is still no Jewish leader who can speak to us and for us with his stature, passion and integrity. There is no modern prophet who has seen what he did and emerged as a compassionate humanist.

As a teacher, he was uniquely compelling and continues to inspire through The Elie Wiesel Center for Jewish Studies, The Witness Institute founded by  Ariel Burger and Elisha Wiesel, and the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity. I’m so grateful to his beloved son Elisha Wiesel for sharing his voice and wisdom. I am also grateful to Alan Rosen in Jerusalem for always offering wisdom, study opportunities and blessings for our teacher throughout the year. There are many programs of studying the Holocaust in universities, and many Holocaust museums dedicated to remembering and honoring the victims by educating and inspiring us to make sure it never happens again.

I recently shared a program on Songs and Stories of Elie Wiesel at Boston University, finding meaning and wisdom from his teachings and his beloved childhood songs. It was a dream come true to return to BU as a guest lecturer and enter the classroom the next day where my teacher once stood. I am grateful to the director of the EWCJS  Prof. Nancy Harrowitz for this opportunity.

I shared a quote from a class on Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlov from March 15, 1978

“Rabbi Nachman had one wish- that his stories would become prayers- a nigun (wordless melody) is the highest mode of prayer.

Rabbi Nachman believed if we knew how to sing we would be closer to God.”

I believe singing does bring you closer to a peaceful mind, heart and soul. I am sure our beloved Prof. Elie Wiesel is sharing his songs as he adds his voice to the heavens before God. It is up to each of us to continue the song.

May his songs and stories be shared and revered.

May we learn from his lessons and let every generation know how precious they are.

May his name always be a blessing and an inspiration

Cantor Deborah Katchko-Gray

A moment in Elie Wiesel’s study at Boston University
About the Author
Fourth generation cantor, second woman to serve a traditional synagogue and founder of the Women Cantors' Network. Deborah studied with Elie Wiesel z"l and continues to be inspired by his teachings. First recipient of the Debbie Friedman Miriam Award. A cantor in Ridgefield, CT since 1999, cellist, tallit Swedish weaving embroiderer, mother of 6, grandmother of five. Wife and friend.
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