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Please help us continue the legacy of Simon Wiesenthal, whose gravestone was  unveiled today in Herzliya, Israel.

Speaking at the unveiling, Rabbi Marvin Hier, the Center’s dean and founder said, “It is nine months since the world lost the conscience of the Holocaust, Shimon Ben Asher. 

Millions knew what he did, but few realized the sacrifice he made in order to achieve it. His life’s work was to find those who murdered six million Jews and millions of others, including 89 members of his family. He undertook this work, not as an act of vengeance but in search of justice and a better world."  

In his closing remarks, Rabbi Hier shared the poignant and heartfelt story of Mr. Wiesenthal’s wish for his 90th Birthday.

“One day Simon called and said that he would like to celebrate his 90th birthday with a few friends in Vienna.  It was at a time when he could no longer travel and his wife was bedridden.  I asked him where he would like to celebrate.  He said, ‘I have one unfulfilled wish, to have a party at the Imperial Hotel.’  Before I had a chance to ask why the Imperial, he told me that it was Hitler’s favorite hotel and that both he and Himmler had permanent suites there.  They built enormous bunkers beneath the hotel, which still exist today, because Hitler thought that this would serve as an ideal headquarters from where he could conduct the Second World War. 

During the Third Reich, it would have been unthinkable, Simon said, for a Jew to be seen at the Imperial Hotel.  ‘And I want to make sure,’ he said, ‘that all the taboos of the Third Reich are broken and that the record of this hotel would affirm that Simon Wiesenthal celebrated his 90th birthday here with a Kosher dinner.’ 

On the night of the dinner, when the band played a favorite Yiddish song, ‘Belz, Mein Shtele Belz’ (Belz, My Little Shtetl Belz), he looked up at the ceiling, turned to me, and said: ‘You see even the chandeliers are shaking because this is the first time they have ever heard such music here.  Let the record read,’ he said, ‘that Hitler is no longer here, but even in the Imperial Hotel, Jews are still alive and still singing.’”

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