Hardly a breath was taken in the Hilton Americas-Houston ballroom as Holocaust survivor and Noble Laureat Elie Wiesel deliberately and eloquently called for every man and woman to take the stand of moral courage.
"It's not easy, it's not easy to try to believe in moral courage in a world that lacks it, " he acknowledged. "It lacks it because people are afraid, afraid of their own temptations."
In his remarks on receipt of the 2012 Lyndon Baines Johnson Moral Courage Award, Wiesel reminded the gathering of more than 1,300 of his credo that "to remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all."
Wiesel reminded the gathering of more than 1,300 of his credo that "to remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all."
The hush that fell over the room as Wiesel approached the podium was in sharp contrast to the lively spirits exhibited in the gathering's cocktail hour that felt more like a huge family reunion than ticketed fundraiser. The combination of levity followed by Wiesel's gravity gave his words all the more force.
He spoke of what he calls a kind of 11th commandment, "Thou shalt not stand idly by, which means whenever there is an injustice committed against the destiny of a person or of a people, thou shalt not stand idly by. You must speak up. You must defend. You must tell the victims, 'Look, at least you should know that you are not alone, that somebody cares.' "
Isabel and Danny David chaired the dinner evening that raised more than $1.2 million for Holocaust Museum Houston programs. They were joined by honorary chairs Sue and Lester Smith, underwriting chair Ed Wulfe and committee members Fred Zeidman and Regina Rogers and museum chair Tali Blumrosen in guaranteeing the evening's success. Not far from the center of activity was museum executive director Susan Myers.
Tradition holds that the annual dinner draws a powerful group of business and political leaders. On this night, that group included Jeri and Marc Shapiro, Punkin and Walter Hecht, Barbara and Charles Hurwitz, Brian Becker, Barbara and Michael Gamson, Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff, Velva Levine, Noylan and Eric Pulaski, Dr. Kelli Cohen Fein and Martin Fein, Richard Leibman, Joan Schnitzer-Levy and Joyce and Arthur Schechter.