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Elie Wiesel cancels lecture series at BU due to health reasons

Citing health reasons, Elie Wiesel has canceled the popular fall lecture series at Boston University that the 85-year-old Holocaust survivor, author, human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner has held annually for the past three-and-a-half decades.

“We are joining the many friends of Elie Wiesel out there and here on campus in sending our best wishes to Elie and expressing our regret at the cancellation of this year’s lecture series,” the Elie Wiesel Center for Judaic Studies at BU said in a statement on its website. “We will post here if we learn of any change in Prof. Wiesel’s plans.”

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The lecture series was scheduled to kick off tonight and continue on each of the next two Mondays.

Campus officials said there is no lecture series more highly anticipated or more popular at BU than the talks Wiesel has given each fall since 1976, when he became the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at BU.

“Its something that many students say was a highlight of their years at BU,” said spokesman Colin Riley, citing that each talk draws a standing-room-only crowd of about 1,500 people.

Staff at Wiesel’s office New York City said the lecture series this year was canceled “due to health reasons,” but declined to comment further.

In June 2011, Wiesel underwent emergency quintuple heart bypass surgery and published a book, “Open Heart” about the experience. In an interview last year with the Associated Press, he said his doctor asked him to cut back on teaching at BU. But, he told the AP, he planned to continue with his fall lecture series and said he may eventually teach more courses.

The cancellation of this fall’s BU lecture series came several weeks after organizers of the “Year of Altruism” event in Greenville, South Carolina announced in late August that Wiesel has canceled his Oct. 1 scheduled appearance there due to “ill health.”

“The Year of Altruism Leadership extends heartfelt wishes and prayers to Professor Wiesel for a full and complete recovery along with many others who extend similar support,” organizers said in a recent statement. “We will be anxious to learn of his recovery progress.”

At BU, the three-part lecture series was scheduled to kick off tonight in the school’s George Sherman Union with a talk from Wiesel titled “Tragedy and its Literature in the Bible.” He was scheduled to give his next talk, “Tragedy and its Literature in the Talmud,” on Oct. 28 before wrapping up the series the following on Nov. 4 with a lecture titled “Tragedy and its Literature in Contemporary Times.”

In addition to his position as the Andrew W. Mellon Professor at BU, Wiesel, who turned 85 last month, also holds the title of university professor and is a faculty member in the philosophy and religion departments, according to the school’s website.

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