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Friend of Elie Wiesel: He took all the suffering and turned it into good

Posted at 11:58 PM, Jul 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-03 00:14:13-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- An admired Holocaust Survivor died Saturday at the age of 87.

Elie Wiesel is remembered for spreading peace and speaking out against human suffering. He was even named a “Messenger of Peace,” by the United Nations.

Jay Ipson

Jay Ipson

He was admired by many including founder of the Virginia Holocaust Museum in Richmond, Jay Ipson.

“We met and chatted for a little while. With him being the hero that he was I had to have a picture with him,” Ipson said.

The two met when Wiesel was in Richmond for a lecture after winning his Nobel Prize in 1986.

Eli Wiesel and Jay Ipson.

Eli Wiesel and Jay Ipson.

“He was a loving individual, soft spoken. You really had to strain your ears to hear him. He never raised his voice once,” Ipson said.

The two men shared a bond few understand. Ipson is also a Holocaust survivor.

“This is a picture of me in line to be deported for execution,” he said while showing us the photo. He and his mother were the only two in the group of thousands who lived.

Photo shows Holocaust survivors Jay Ipson and his mother.

Photo shows Holocaust survivors Jay Ipson and his mother.

Ipson admires Wiesel’s ability to uplift people.

“He suffered desperately, and he managed to take all the suffering and turn it into good,” Ipson said.

Wiesel detailed the suffering through Nazi German concentration camps in his best selling book, Night.

“The children that read Night have that burned into their minds as they grow, and you'll never have any problems with their children because they will tell their children what happened during that time,” Ipson said.

Ipson teaches Holocaust history in a classroom in his Richmond home.

“We are all dying now. I'm 81 years old. There is not that many of us that have lived it that are still around to tell the story and teach the young people and anybody who will listen the horrors of the Holocaust,” Ipson said.

A display 

A display

The Jewish Community Federation of Richmond sent this comment:

Today, the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond mourns the death of author, Nobel laureate and human rights activist Elie Wiesel, of blessed memory.

His story – a Romanian boy who survived the darkest atrocities of history to become a thinker, writer and stand bearer for the meaning of humanity – is an inspiration.

Elie Wiesel spent time with Presidents, Prime Ministers, Chief Rabbis and leaders of all faiths. He towered over the horrors of his past and taught peace. The world – and our community – has lost a hero.

“Elie Wiesel rose from the ashes of the Holocaust to become one of the world’s foremost human rights activists. And indomitable spirit, he transcended hatred to teach peace and from the world’s darkest shadow he shined a light teaching shared sacred humanity. His memory is and always will be a blessing,” said Richard S. Samet, co-Chair of the Jewish Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond.