JCRC Mourns Loss of Judith Meisel, z”l

November 5, 2020

Minneapolis, MN — Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC), issued the following statement after the passing of Judith Meisel, z’’l:

“Judith lived history.  Almost precisely 77 years ago, the Allies gave ‘full warning’ that when the Nazis were defeated, the Allies would ‘pursue them to the uttermost ends of the earth…so that justice may be done…’  In Jerusalem, in 1961, Eichmann prosecutor Gideon Hausner spoke for the Jewish people: ‘I am not standing alone.  With me are six million accusers.’

“Judith—in her sweet, gentle, brave, passionate and determined way, was the soul of memory for Stutthof concentration camp giving life through her testimony to those who perished and hope for the future by seeing the Shoah ‘justice done.’  Decades later she was not deterred.  Judith was a wife, mother, teacher, civil rights activist and a Holocaust survivor.  As a survivor of the Kovno ghetto and Stutthof concentration camp, she experienced unspeakable brutality and she was not about to let injustice happen.  In June of 2017, German investigators visited Judith in Minneapolis to record her eyewitness testimony as part of an investigation of former SS guards that worked in Stutthof Concentration Camp.

“Capturing an essence of Judith is a quote of Prof. Deborah Lipstadt: ‘Let us never stop being vigilant about the Oys which face us.  But let us never turn them into our raison d’etre.  Let us also celebrate the Joys.’  And there is much joy to behold in Judith’s life: her family; her dedication to civil rights; her speaking engagements; and her synagogues.

“Thank you to Judith’s son, Michael, and grandson, Ben, for their deep commitment to sharing Judith’s story with the world and pursuing justice for the millions who perished. Thousands of people were inspired by listening to her story.

“I find these words from Judith inspirational: ‘Racism and bigotry, it’s still happening all over the world and we have to constantly work at it to see that this does not happen here or anywhere. We cannot afford to say, ‘what can I do, I’m only one person.’  One person can do a lot.’

“May Judith’s memory be for a blessing.”

The FBI Minneapolis Field Office added the following comment:

The life Judith led as a Holocaust survivor, educator and civil rights activist was truly remarkable. Her life story has illuminated the discussion of hate crimes, civil rights and hope. What a legacy she leaves behind.

Judith’s cooperation and involvement with the FBI and other law enforcement partners has been extraordinary and significant and we were honored to bestow upon her the 2018 Director’s Community Leadership Award. Her leadership and service to the community knew no bounds.

Photo: Judith’s portrait in the JCRC’s Transfer of Memory exhibition (Daivd Sherman/Transfer of Memory).

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As the public affairs voice of the Jewish community, the JCRC fights antisemitism and prejudice, advocates for Israel, provides Holocaust education, promotes tolerance and social justice, and builds bridges across the Jewish and broader communities.