Susquehanna University Press



Excerpts from The Worlds of Elie Wiesel
Author: Jack Kolbert

1. No voice more eloquently than his defined the full scope of the Holocaust, arguably the greatest tragedy in history.

2. Even though he had undergone excruciating physical and moral pain, even though he had suffered immeasurable family losses, even though he has had a difficult time coping with the Holocaust deniers and revisionists, even though he has seen the lingering effects of anti-Semitism during the half century after Auschwitz, Elie Wiesel continues to live with hope.

3. As one of the most universally respected Jewish personalities of our day, Elie Wiesel’s views of the Jewish people are a fascinating subject for us to explore here. To the various definitions of Jew he adds his own: "What is it to be Jewish? To be Jewish is to be part of a collective memory, to be part of the Jewish people." Elsewhere he calls Judaism "a tradition…To understand, you must accept the idea of collective memory—that whatever happened to your father, to your grandfather, to your ancestors is part of you. So whatever happened to them—something of it remains inside of you."

4. The way Wiesel arranges words in a sentence, the way he utilizes questions ceaselessly , the way his sentences and questions form paragraphs, and the way he blends musical tonality with verbal substance—all of this epitomizes the Hasidic approach to expressing oneself through a special kind of religious chanting.

5. That he champions the Israeli cause does not, however, prevent him from defending non-Jewish causes affecting the other people of the world. An ardent humanitarian, Wiesel believes it is his mission to work towards the alleviation of all human pain and suffering, among Jews and non-Jews alike.

6. Wiesel speculates that the continuity of civilization depends more on the effectiveness of the educational process than on any other factor. Jewish life itself has always depended upon the interrelatedness of teaching and learning. The writer stresses that, "the Jewish tradition is a tradition of learning. We are teachers because we are disciples. We are disciples because we know how to listen. We know how to accept. The knowledge of how to accept is as important as the knowledge of how to give.