Today in History: Elie Wiesel Is Born

| September 30, 2016

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Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever. Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never. — From Night, by From Elie Wiesel (New York: Bantam, 1982), p. 32.

A good rule of thumb: read (or re-read) the book that your child likes, and you will have something to talk about! So, I do just that, as a parent, and a juror. Within the summer halls of the Supreme Court, I delve into Elie Wiesel’s Night, a terrible, candid, autobiographical account of the Holocaust in which he, a young teenager, explores his relationship with his father and God, and survives the Nazi death camp (Auschwitz and Buchenwald, 1944-1945). It’s a fitting place to peruse this short, deeply poignant masterpiece, which happens to be my son’s school reading assignment. “In God We Trust” is noticeably the banner where justice presides, and, later from the dinner table, we share meaningful conversation — about inhumanity, suffering, war, faith, family, the laws of our land, and great literature. I appreciate, all the more, the openness my son puts into reading Wiesel, who sadly passes away the exact day I finish reading it.

On September 30, 1928, Eliezer “Elie” Wiesel was born in Sighetu, Romania. Wiesel was imprisoned and orphaned during the Holocaust. Two of his three sisters also survived the the war. Wiesel became a writer, professor, political activist, Nobel Laureate, and strong advocate for human rights. His 57 books, among them the memoir Night (1958), were written mostly in French, and translated into multiple languages. His childhood home, located in the corner of the old Jewish ghetto, and pictured in the poster above, is now a museum.

In recognition of Elie Wiesel birthday and recent death on July 2, 2016, we will share news of his achievements and widespread influence, including the place of his work in the school curricula.

The following articles are selected from Proquest Historical Newspapers, which informs and inspires classroom teaching and learning.

Tip:

Check out Elie Wiesel on the The Open Mind, a nationally broadcast public affairs interview series originally created and hosted by Richard Heffner, whose work is archived in Pocketknowledge, the social, digital archive of Teacher College.

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