NEW YORK, Jan. 11, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AJC mourns the passing of Ernest Weiner, who led the global advocacy organization's office in San Francisco until his retirement in 2008. He was 89 years old.
AJC Executive Director David Harris, a long-time colleague of Ernie, issued the following statement:
"During his 37 years with AJC, Ernie was widely beloved, admired, and respected. He had that all-too-rare combination of wisdom, wit, eloquence, feistiness, compassion, and charm – the perfect ingredients to be a superb advocate. And advocate he did, in defense of Israel's well-being, the security of the Jewish people, the promise of America for all, and cooperation among America's faith and ethnic communities.
"Ernie was a proud American, who served his country valiantly in the Second World War. He was an equally proud Jew, who cherished his Jewish heritage, sprinkled his speech with Yiddishisms, and could not have been more proud of the rebirth of Israel.
"One of the many remarkable things about Ernie was his uncanny ability to befriend people in all walks and stages of life. He found the humanity in everyone, took an interest in their lives, showed empathy for their concerns, and always had a memorable turn of phrase at the ready.
"AJC honored him at a gala event in San Francisco. In addition to the formal award, he was presented with a pair of boxing shorts embroidered with the words 'Bayonne Bomber' to recall his days in New Jersey as a boxer, a sport he remained associated with long after his retirement from the ring.
"He also was honored by the French government. In 2007, the Consul General of France in San Francisco, Frederic Desagneaux, presented Ernie with the medal of Knight of the French National Order of Merit. It was given 'as a testimony of France's gratitude for his outstanding service in the American Army in the European theater during World War II, and in recognition of his accomplishments as the head of AJC San Francisco, where he endlessly promoted French-American friendship and cooperation.'
"In 2008, on the occasion of Ernie's retirement from AJC, there was a wonderful tribute to him written by John Tateishi in the Pacific Citizen.
"He recalled how he had first met Ernie in 1978. Ernie had reached out and explained that AJC wanted to help the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) seek redress from the U.S. government, after what had shamefully happened to many Japanese Americans in 1942. 'And thus,' Tateishi wrote, 'AJC became the first and most important organization to endorse the JACL's Redress campaign,' which ultimately proved successful. And, he added of Ernie, 'This man, who is no bigger than I, is in many ways so much bigger than life. Probably because he has given so much meaning to so many people.'
"Exactly. Ernie touched the lives of countless individuals and communities in his career. America, Israel, the democratic world, and the Jewish people are all the beneficiaries of the heart and soul he gave to everything he did. In his extraordinary lifetime, Ernie proved how one person can make an enduring difference.
"We extend our heartfelt condolences to Ernie's four children and their families, who have lost an adoring father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. Ernie's wife, Shirley, the love of his life, predeceased him. May Ernie's memory always serve as a blessing and an inspiration. He will be missed by so many!"
SOURCE American Jewish Committee