Jewish Journal

Moving & Shaking: Tom Hanks, survivors and others do a live-reading of Elie Wiesel’s ‘Night’

Actor Tom Hanks with Auschwitz survivors Mary Bauer, left, and Betty Cohen, at Wilshire Boulevard Temple on April 23. Photo by Danielle Berrin

About 1,000 people attended a reading of “Night,” Elie Wiesel’s memoir of his experience during the Holocaust, on April 23 at Wilshire Boulevard Temple (WBT) in observance of Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, the first since Wiesel’s death in July.

“This afternoon’s reading is a wakeup call … a call to activism, to compassion, to understanding,” WBT Rabbi Susan Nanus, one of the event’s organizers, said during her introductory remarks.

Steven Z. Leder, WBT’s senior rabbi, was the first to read from the memoir. He was followed by readers who, among others, included actor Tom Hanks; talk show host Tavis Smiley; Rabbis David Wolpe, Karen Fox, Daniel Bouskila and Laura Geller; philanthropist Sharon Nazarian; Jewish Journal senior writer and columnist Danielle Berrin; and the consuls general of Germany and Israel in Los Angeles, Hans Jorg Neumann and Sam Grundwerg, respectively.

After the conclusion of the reading, which lasted about three hours, the audience in the synagogue’s Byzantine-revival sanctuary stood and observed a moment of silence and then recited the Mourner’s Kaddish for the 6 million Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

A video of the reading can be watched at jewishjournal.com.

On the same day at Congregation Kol Ami, a West Hollywood Reform synagogue, Danny Maseng, chazzan and spiritual leader of Makom LA, recited prayers and lit memorial candles during a ceremony in commemoration of Yom HaShoah.

“Human spirit is the light of God,” Maseng said.

Attendees included David Straus, a board member of Jewish World Watch, and Rev. Keith Cox, spiritual leader at the Center for Spiritual Living Los Angeles.