When you learn from a master, the lessons learned often transcend the academic world. The lessons we learn from this person stay with us long after we have left the classroom.
The late Elie Wiesel was one of the most remarkable men of our time. He was more than a Holocaust survivor, successful author and a teacher. He spoke to our common humanity in a way that few people are able to do. Ariel Burger was one of the fortunate few who knew Professor Wiesel on a personal level; first has his student, then his teaching assistant.
Last year, Dr. Burger published a memoir about his time with Professor Wiesel entitled Witness: Lessons from Elie Wiesel’s Classroom. They met when Dr. Burger was a teenager. Years later, he was offered a position of Professor Wiesel’s teaching assistant. For Dr. Burger, this relationship was more than the typical student/teacher or teaching assistant/Professor relationship. Professor Wiesel was a mentor and guided his teaching assistant as he dealt with life’s challenges.
I loved this book. I loved it because I felt like I was sitting in Professor Wiesel’s classroom, learning with his students. I also loved it because it speaks to the legacy of love and learning that only someone like Elie Wiesel could leave to the world.
I recommend it.
This past weekend was Yom HaShoah.
While I live in the safety and security of The United States, sometimes I need a reminder how quickly democracy and freedom can spiral into prejudice and murder.
Yesterday, I finished reading The Tailors of Tomaszow: A Memoir of Polish Jew. Co-written by child survivor Rena Margulies Chernoff and her son Alan Chernoff, the book is a memoir based on the memories of Mrs. Chernoff’s all too brief childhood and the horrors she went through during the Holocaust.
The reason I re-read the book can best be described by the late Elie Wiesel:
“To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.”
The youngest of the survivors are in their 80’s and 90’s. Soon, only their words and memories, shared through others will keep the their murdered kin alive.
I re-read The Tailors of Tomaszow: A Memoir of Polish Jews so that the dead will never be forgotten.
Today, the world lost Elie Wiesel. He was a human rights activist, Holocaust child survivor and author.
Born in what was then Romania in 1928, Elie Wiesel’s parents and younger sister were killed in the Holocaust. Only he and his older sisters survived. In 1960, he published Night, a novel based on his time at Auschwitz.
Mr. Wiesel was more than the face of Holocaust survivors. He was the face of everyone who has faced prejudice and extermination in the modern age simply because of who they are.
I had the pleasure of seeing him speak when I was in college. While I do not remember the specifics of the lecture, it was a thrill just the same.
In Judaism, when a loved one passes away, we say of blessed memory when we refer to them. Elie Wiesel is of blessed memory, not just to those who knew him on a personal level, but to those whose life he influenced, but never had the chance to meet in person.
Elie Wiesel, z”l.
Filed under Books, History