January 11, 2014 – New York
– 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
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
“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!”