The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness
by Simon Wiesenthal

While imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp, Wiesenthal was taken one day from his work detail to the bedside of a dying member of the SS. Haunted by the crimes in which he had participated, the soldier wanted to confess to and obtain absolution from a Jew. Faced with the choice between compassion and justice, silence and truth, Weisenthal said nothing. But even years after the war had ended, he wondered: Had he done the right thing?

Weisenthal presented this ethical dilemma to leading intellectuals and theologians of various faiths. The responses of fifty-three distinguished men and women are presented in The Sunflower. They are theologians, political leaders, writers, jurists, psychiatrists, human rights activists, Holocaust survivors and victims of attempted genocide in Bosnia, Cambodia, China and Tibet. They include The Dalai Lama, Matthew Fox, Mary Gordon, Yossi Klein Halevi, Arthur Herzberg, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Cynthia Ozick, Desmond Tutu and Harry Wu. Their responses, as varied as their experiences of the world, remind us that Weisenthal's questions are not limited to events of the past.

This important book has provoked international dialogue, bringing together people of diverse backgrounds and faiths, to confront profound and disturbing moral questions. Often surprising and always thought-provoking, The Sunflower challenges you to define your beliefs about justice, compassion, and human responsibility.


In 1998, JHOM conducted an online reading group forum on The Sunflower, moderated by some of the thinkers and writers who contributed to Weisenthal's book.



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