Witness
Elie Wiesel was a towering presence on the world stage—a Nobel laureate, activist, adviser to world leaders, and the author of more than forty books, including the Oprah’s Book Club selection Night. But when asked, Wiesel always said, “I am a teacher first.” In fact, he taught at Boston University for nearly four decades, and with this book, Ariel Burger—devoted protégé, apprentice, and friend—takes us into the sacred space of Wiesel’s classroom. There, Wiesel challenged his students to explore moral complexity and to resist the dangerous lure of absolutes. In bringing together never-before-recounted moments between Wiesel and his students, Witness serves as a moral education in and of itself—a primer on educating against indifference, on the urgency of memory and individual responsibility, and on the role of literature, music, and art in making the world a more compassionate place. Burger first met Wiesel at age fifteen; he became his student in his twenties, and his teaching assistant in his thirties. In this profoundly thought-provoking and inspiring book, Burger gives us a front-row seat to Wiesel’s remarkable exchanges in and out of the classroom, and chronicles the intimate conversations between these two men over the decades as Burger sought counsel on matters of intellect, spirituality, and faith, while navigating his own personal journey from boyhood to manhood, from student and assistant, to rabbi and, in time, teacher. “Listening to a witness makes you a witness,” said Wiesel. Ariel Burger’s book is an invitation to every reader to become Wiesel’s student, and witness.

Witness Details

TitleWitness
Author
ReleaseNov 13th, 2018
PublisherHoughton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN-139781328802699
Rating
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, Biography Memoir, Religion

Witness Review

  • Angela M
    January 1, 1970
    “ If anything can, it is memory that will save humanity.” (Elie Wiesel) I was fortunate to receive an advanced copy of this book. It was before the horrific event last week at a Pittsburgh synagogue where eleven people were murdered because they were Jewish. I thought about the Holocaust and the hate of the anti semitism that caused over six million Jews to be murdered and thought how could this happen now ? I was planning on reading it soon, but I thought right now would be a good time. What I “ If anything can, it is memory that will save humanity.” (Elie Wiesel) I was fortunate to receive an advanced copy of this book. It was before the horrific event last week at a Pittsburgh synagogue where eleven people were murdered because they were Jewish. I thought about the Holocaust and the hate of the anti semitism that caused over six million Jews to be murdered and thought how could this happen now ? I was planning on reading it soon, but I thought right now would be a good time. What I knew about Elie Wiesel was limited to my reading of Night and having seen him on Oprah years ago. This book provides a bigger window into the man, his thoughts, his beliefs, his intellect, his empathy and understanding, an outlook on life that left me in awe considering his history. In this beautifully written book, Ariel Burger writes of the impact of his relationship with Elie Wiesel as a student of his, as his teaching assistant, and ultimately as a colleague. He writes of how his life was impacted as well as the students who came to Wiesel’s classes. Burger is also a teacher and the reader becomes his student as well as Wiesel’s. This is of course a beautiful tribute to a mentor and beloved friend, but it is more than that. He challenges the reader as he tells of discussions that occurred in Wiesel’s classes as we read the questions that students asked, students who majored in journalism, theater not just religion. They asked questions that were intelligent and emotion filled, questions from students who were both Jewish and Christian. It’s as if I was present in that classroom listening to the discussions on the Old Testament, books by Kafka and Dostoyevsky, Anne Frank, stories, personal experiences, discussions of madness, mysticism, faith, listening, understanding, art, music, literature, philosophical questions, hatred, forgiveness and the importance of bearing witness. Burger says of Wiesel: “Most of his writing dealt with other subjects: examinations of literature, contemporary struggles for human rights and dignity, and Jewish legends and personalities. The Holocaust was not his subject; it was the lens through which he looked at all subjects.” This book was such a profound reinforcement of so much that I feel and believe when I read Holocaust stories especially memoirs . The author lists a number of things about what it means to be a student of Elie Wiesel and this : “Most of all, it means remembering the past and understanding the link between past and future. It means choosing to care about others’ lives, their suffering and their joy. It means becoming a witness.” Burger based this book on his journals, notes, interviews, voice memos and twenty five years of friendship, being mentored by Elie Wiesel. I came away knowing much more about the wise and beautiful human being that Elie Wiesel was. I was awed, inspired, challenged. This book reinforced my personal conviction that we must read about the horrific times so we remember and bear witness. Highly recommended! There is so much that is relevant for this precarious time in our county. “Listening to a witness makes you a witness.” (Elie Wiesel) I received an advanced copy of this book from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt through NetGalley.
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  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
    January 1, 1970
    5 stars! ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ Ariel Burger was first a student, later a teaching assistant, and much later, a friend to Elie Wiesel, and he writes here of Wiesel’s time teaching at Boston University, something he did for over 40 years. The primary, most important task in Wiesel’s teachings was educating against indifference. In addition, he was passionate about individual responsibility and building more compassion through literature and the arts. Burger shares the intimacies of their conversations, along 5 stars! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ Ariel Burger was first a student, later a teaching assistant, and much later, a friend to Elie Wiesel, and he writes here of Wiesel’s time teaching at Boston University, something he did for over 40 years. The primary, most important task in Wiesel’s teachings was educating against indifference. In addition, he was passionate about individual responsibility and building more compassion through literature and the arts. Burger shares the intimacies of their conversations, along with the triumphs of Wiesel’s words inside and outside of classroom walls. Burger also speaks of his own personal journey and what Wiesel taught him, how he shaped and molded him into the rabbi and teacher he became. I first read Night by Elie Wiesel the summer before I started high school. We had “summer reading,” and it was assigned. I was starting a new school, again, something I did frequently as a child, and I was anxious about life in general, and somehow in reading the book, as heartrending and devastating as it was, I was given hope for my new school, that we would be assigned books like Night to read, a book that made me feel deeply, viscerally because the atrocities of which Wiesel wrote actually happened. That hope held true, and Elie Wiesel helped in bringing that to me in many more ways than just that small one by comparison. The biggest takeaway from Witness: if you listen to a witness, you, in turn, become a witness. This one is not to be missed! Thank you to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the ARC. All opinions are my own.
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  • Nat
    January 1, 1970
    This book was exactly what I was seeking with Elie Wiesel’s memoirs: it summarises Wiesel's concise teachings on keeping history alive through morality and vulnerability. You're guaranteed to leave Ariel Burger's Witness with a changed perspective.Ariel Burger first met Elie Wiesel at age fifteen. They studied together and taught together. Witness chronicles the intimate conversations between these two men over decades, as Burger sought counsel on matters of intellect, spirituality, and faith, w This book was exactly what I was seeking with Elie Wiesel’s memoirs: it summarises Wiesel's concise teachings on keeping history alive through morality and vulnerability. You're guaranteed to leave Ariel Burger's Witness with a changed perspective.Ariel Burger first met Elie Wiesel at age fifteen. They studied together and taught together. Witness chronicles the intimate conversations between these two men over decades, as Burger sought counsel on matters of intellect, spirituality, and faith, while navigating his own personal journey from boyhood to manhood, from student and assistant to rabbi and, in time, teacher.In this profoundly hopeful, thought-provoking, and inspiring book, Burger takes us into Elie Wiesel’s classroom, where the art of listening and storytelling conspire to keep memory alive. As Wiesel’s teaching assistant, Burger gives us a front-row seat witnessing these remarkable exchanges in and out of the classroom. The act of listening, of sharing these stories, makes of us, the readers, witnesses.To start off each part, the author's stories are interspersed throughout, which made for a well-paced read regarding the bond shared between Elie Wiesel and Ariel Burger.Wiesel comes to provide the home described above in the pages of this book. Like put so well in explaining the meaning of ezer k'negdo:He continues to write: “What does it mean to disagree for the sake of the other rather than in order to defeat or silence the other?” Such grandiose ideas to wrap my head around.I consider it to be a good sign if a book makes me stop every few pages or so to run and share the information I just read with the people surrounding me. Witness makes for an excellent book discussion.And since this was such an honest and vulnerable read, it feels only right to make my review as such, as well. From sharing the many rabbinical and Hasidic tales that populated Elie Wiesel's childhood, to discussing the age-old question, “must art emerge from suffering?”; keeping memory alive through reading; Judaism; fanaticism... There are so many thought-provoking ideas introduced through Wiesel's words that, in order to hold on to them all, I felt like being in one of those money blowing machines*, trying desperately to grasp on to even one fundamental thought so it won't escape me with time. The amount of notes I took from this book is a bit over the top...*I'm, of course, referring to one of these bad boys:So, let's jump right into the good stuff: • When attending one of Elie Wiesel's lectures becomes a life-changing notion:This put exactly into words why I make sure to read up on survivor testimonies, instead of reading the words of the enemy.• When discussing the misuse of music and "why knowing the history of works of art is important." He continues to discuss, in the passage below, how he personally "would not go to a concert of Wagner's music..."I feel so grateful to see someone address this in writing!!!! Nowadays, people boycott modern public figures left and right for their inappropriate nature but seldom hold up "classic" figures to the same actions... So I was beyond relieved to finally read this passage in black and white on paper. Ever since I listened to a life-changing lesson on the so-called "geniuses" of Western culture (Shakespeare, Michelangelo, Voltaire, and many more) and exposing their utter immoral natures, I make sure to check if what I'm consuming was created "in the service of humanity or its opposite..."• Expanding upon the opening quote of "listening to a witness makes you a witness," which completely flipped my worldview around.• I appreciate how included we felt in the class discussions, each covering through such wide-ranging questions. The movement is rapid from student to student, and we follow it expertly like a ping pong match. Pages flew by when heated topics were introduced, or simply hearing the tales of Wiesel's childhood.The stories that were chosen to be included in here have not left my mind. Including, this short on sanity:And this brilliant take on keeping memory alive within us:• This last one is so important and personal to me because of the hidden meaning of birds:There's so much more I highlighted and would love to share but it all boils down to this: Elie Wiesel was a bright soul put on this earth; we need more people like him in our time. I was beyond disheartened to learn that he had passed away in 2016. Zichrono Livracha.ARC kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.Publication Date: November 13th, 2018Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Witness , just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission! Support creators you love. Buy a Coffee for nat (bookspoils) with Ko-fi.com/bookspoils This review and more can be found on my blog.
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  • Jenny
    January 1, 1970
    Egil Aarvik, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, once said "Eli Wiesel is a messenger to mankind. His message is one of peace, atonement, and human dignity. His belief that the forces fighting evil in the world can be victorious is a hard-won belief."Eli Wiesel was a father, husband, friend, humanitarian, author, Holocaust survivor and a teacher. Somehow the word teacher doesn't do justice to someone whose words continue to help us learn what being a better human being is. I have read a f Egil Aarvik, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, once said "Eli Wiesel is a messenger to mankind. His message is one of peace, atonement, and human dignity. His belief that the forces fighting evil in the world can be victorious is a hard-won belief."Eli Wiesel was a father, husband, friend, humanitarian, author, Holocaust survivor and a teacher. Somehow the word teacher doesn't do justice to someone whose words continue to help us learn what being a better human being is. I have read a few books by Eli Wiesel and jumped at the chance to read Ariel Burger's book, Witness: Lessons from Eli Wiesel's Classroom. Ariel was Wiesel's teaching assistant at Boston College. He writes a book that gave me the feeling of sitting in one of Wiesel's classes myself and letting Wiesel's stories and life lessens envelop me. I felt like I was back in college sitting in the lecture halls as Wiesel tells the stories and parables from Kafka, the Bible and other great works. These are stories hat sometimes will make you angry or leave with a an aching sadness but always stories that have a meaning and purpose. I felt like that kid again in college inspired to fight the good fight and wanting to back to the days of sitting with my fellow classmates talking about current events, challenging the status quo and ready to take on the world.Burger's book is filled with Wiesel's lessons and also the impact that Burger and others had on Wiesel. Burger based this book on twenty years worth of journal entries, interviews and five years of classroom notes. He takes the reader on his own spiritual and intellectual journey starting as a young boy and then the conversations with Wiesel spanning decades.It's not hard to read this book but it is hard to hear what this book says if you truly listen. It is then that this book or really Wiesel will bring the gamut of emotions to the forefront and a wish that we as human beings can one day find a way to stop the hatred and destruction of humanity. Eli Wiesel said, "Mankind must remember that peace is not God's gift to his creatures: peace is our gift to each other." Eli Wiesel would be proud of his student, Ariel Burger and the beautiful book that he wrote.Thank you to NetGalley for an opportunity to read an advance copy of this book. #NetGalley #Witness
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  • Cheri
    January 1, 1970
    !! NOW AVAILABLE !!”If it be your willThat I speak no moreAnd my voice be stillAs it was beforeI will speak no moreI shall abide untilI am spoken forIf it be your willIf it be your willThat a voice be trueFrom this broken hillI will sing to youFrom this broken hillAll your praises they shall ringIf it be your willTo let me sing” -- If It Be Your Will, Leonard Cohen, Songwriters: Leonard Cohen / Patrick LeonardInstructions for life, or at least for living a life with meaning, words of thoughtful !! NOW AVAILABLE !!”If it be your willThat I speak no moreAnd my voice be stillAs it was beforeI will speak no moreI shall abide untilI am spoken forIf it be your willIf it be your willThat a voice be trueFrom this broken hillI will sing to youFrom this broken hillAll your praises they shall ringIf it be your willTo let me sing” -- If It Be Your Will, Leonard Cohen, Songwriters: Leonard Cohen / Patrick LeonardInstructions for life, or at least for living a life with meaning, words of thoughtful counsel shared through the mentorship, friendship and affection that Elie Wiesel had with his student and teaching assistant, Ariel Burger, along with many other students through the years. This was profoundly lovely, and reflective, with perhaps just a dusting of something along the lines of Tuesdays With Morrie added, without being overly sentimental. This isn’t a book of sadness, but rather of the joy that his wisdom can bring us.Twenty-five years of journal entries, five years of notes from the classroom, interviews with Wiesel’s students from around the world all went into this book. Burger met Elie Wiesel when he was a fifteen year-old young man, and most of the years that followed were spent with them in contact with one another. Sometimes often, other times, not as often. But since that first meeting, Burger considered him to be ”my mentor, my guide, and eventually my friend. He helped me steer my way through complex questions of identity, religion and vocation to a life of meaning I did not know was possible.” If you’re not familiar with Elie Wiesel, he was a professor at Boston University, a journalist, a writer – best known for his book Night – about the atrocities he lived through during the Holocaust, when he was young. Later in life and living in New York City, he taught at City College of New York, and then eventually at Boston University, where he was a professor, and where, eventually, Burger would also attend as a student. This manages to walk that fine line between overly sentimental and a somewhat quietly shared, honest and genuinely loving look at Wiesel’s life, the wisdom he shared, and how through this relationship both changed from knowing the other. There is so much respect, love, and genuine admiration in Burger’s sharing – but there are the stories of Eli Wiesel, as well. Not the ones he wrote about in his books, word for word, but his life, irrevocably changed, after the Holocaust, how it shaped him, and how he used that to teach us all how to be better at this thing called life.I’ve watched, and listened to interviews of Wiesel on television, in audio books, and much of this book is in his words, conversations, writings, but there is that other side from Burger that shows what a blessing learning from a man like Wiesel can bring, not only just to him and his students, but to everyone that takes the time to listen to what Elie Wiesel has to share. So many reasons to read this book, but let me leave you with this one, a quote that starts off the first chapter of this book: ”Listening to a witness makes you a witness. –Elie Wiesel” Be a witness. Pub Date: 13 NOV 2018Many thanks for the ARC provided by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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  • Toni
    January 1, 1970
    To give witness, typically, is to tell the truth. One tells what one saw, gives facts, details; what one witnessed.Ariel Burger, gives witness to what he learned from Elie Wiesel, in the classroom, in personal discussions, reading his books, and through both men's belief in their faith.Most people remember the witness Elie Wiesel gave to the Holocaust, the horror of its existence, the brutality of of its keepers, the smell of the death camps that he himself survived. Elie trusted his God, believ To give witness, typically, is to tell the truth. One tells what one saw, gives facts, details; what one witnessed.Ariel Burger, gives witness to what he learned from Elie Wiesel, in the classroom, in personal discussions, reading his books, and through both men's belief in their faith.Most people remember the witness Elie Wiesel gave to the Holocaust, the horror of its existence, the brutality of of its keepers, the smell of the death camps that he himself survived. Elie trusted his God, believed in his God, had faith in his God. When he survived the death camp he "Gave Witness" to his faith. He became a scholar, a Rabbi of his religion so he could be a teacher. To his death, he always described himself as a teacher.Ariel Burger describes scenes from Elie's classroom sessions, where Ariel was his teaching assistant, with students from all cultures, religions, races; wanting to learn and question this brilliant man. He would tell them stories, quizzical, moral stories, and the class would discuss it. He never gave them direct answers or told them what they should think or know; they learned together, thinking for themselves. That's teaching.This is the best way I can describe this beautiful book to honor a man the world should never forget.Thank you Netgalley for the opportunity to read this advanced copy. Thank you Ariel Burger for sharing your experience with us.A timely book about a man bigger than life during the 20th century; a man who's life was almost snuffed out at an early age for being insignificant and not worthy. Oh how wrong they were
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  • Bruce Katz
    January 1, 1970
    Some of the most moving and thought-provoking passages I’ve read in a very long time. This is the kind of book that leads you to ponder your own life, the choices you’ve made, the things you’ve done that you shouldn’t have and the things you didn’t do but should have, the values you have claimed as your own. For reasons that are likely quite obvious the book strikes me as particularly timely... and necessary.
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  • Kelly Hager
    January 1, 1970
    This book is one of the most profound things I have ever read, and that actually doesn't do it justice.When I was in college, my sociology professor said something along the lines of how we need to always believe that one person can make a difference in the world. "Look at Rosa Parks," she said. And it's true that one person can make a real, permanent difference, although most of us won't. Elie Wiesel did, and he devoted his life to showing others how to do the same. He told this to a student wh This book is one of the most profound things I have ever read, and that actually doesn't do it justice.When I was in college, my sociology professor said something along the lines of how we need to always believe that one person can make a difference in the world. "Look at Rosa Parks," she said. And it's true that one person can make a real, permanent difference, although most of us won't. Elie Wiesel did, and he devoted his life to showing others how to do the same. He told this to a student who survived Mugabe’s regime in Zimbabwe: “I told you in class that you must tell your story. This is because, if even one person learns from it how to be more human, you will have made your memories into a blessing. We must turn our suffering into a bridge so that others might suffer less.”I have a friend who talks about her struggles with mental illness and I have always found her to be so eloquent and so brave in discussing something that still has a little bit of a stigma but she's turning her suffering into a bridge. That's a powerful and beautiful thing, and I admire that so much.But Elie Wiesel turned his suffering into making the world more compassionate. This book---and the ones he wrote---serve as a call to arms. If he, and other survivors of the Holocaust, could still be open and compassionate while at the same time being fierce in protecting other people, what choice do any of us have but to do the same?I needed this book. It's a hard and scary time and we have to save each other. Highly recommended. Could everyone please read it so I have someone to discuss it with?
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  • Donna Hines
    January 1, 1970
    I've been a fan of Elie Wiesel since his appearance on Oprah Winfrey's daytime Talk Show back in 2006 and was captivated as much then as now . See link here about that episode: http://www.oprah.com/own-oprahshow/op... Since that time I've read a number of his books both by him and his students who were so lucky to have been able to hear his teachings in person.He is truly an amazing and captivating individual and you cannot mention his name without knowing his struggles and his strengths to over I've been a fan of Elie Wiesel since his appearance on Oprah Winfrey's daytime Talk Show back in 2006 and was captivated as much then as now . See link here about that episode: http://www.oprah.com/own-oprahshow/op... Since that time I've read a number of his books both by him and his students who were so lucky to have been able to hear his teachings in person.He is truly an amazing and captivating individual and you cannot mention his name without knowing his struggles and his strengths to overcome without anger or bitterness.He is the reason we all seek forgiveness when wronged by the injustices we find in American and beyond.Witness is just one example of what Elie meant to so many. In his words," I am a teacher first, and teaching is the last thing I will give up."For many of us we all feel like we are his students even if not in his classroom as his words live on in his honor.Elie Wiesel passed away in July 2016 but his messages are still true to this day and will stand the test of time. His past is riddled with injustices. His mother and sister were murdered while Elie and his father endured forced labor. His father died when they were forced to March to Buchenwald. The Auschwitz camp was liberated by American soldiers on April 29, 1945."The opposite of love is not hatred but indifference.""Kindness and compassion must not end with our own community.""You just need to touch one person everyday with compassion."His lessons come from the heart. His insight is so valuable and dynamic going above and beyond mere words.Actions speak volumes and he taught by using his sense of character and it spoke to all who were present to hear them.God rest his soul. He was a beautiful individual inside and out.Thank you Ariel Burger for blessing me with this ARC in exchange for this honest review. It was a true honor to read .I hope many will follow the advice Elie has brought forth here.
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  • Dan Curnutt
    January 1, 1970
    What a very interesting read. The book is written about Elie Wiesel from the viewpoint of a former student then a teaching assistant and finally as someone whom Wiesel mentored through his life. Ariel Burger starts out talking about his upbringing in the Jewish faith in a family where one parent was orthodox and the other parent was apathetic. It makes for a strange upbringing.As a teenager Burger wonders about life, death and why God is not more approachable.Then as a student of Elie Wiesel's h What a very interesting read. The book is written about Elie Wiesel from the viewpoint of a former student then a teaching assistant and finally as someone whom Wiesel mentored through his life. Ariel Burger starts out talking about his upbringing in the Jewish faith in a family where one parent was orthodox and the other parent was apathetic. It makes for a strange upbringing.As a teenager Burger wonders about life, death and why God is not more approachable.Then as a student of Elie Wiesel's he becomes infatuated with the intelligence, the stories, the moral's and ethics of a Jewish man who lived through the Holocaust and especially through Auschwitz. What is the more important is that Wiesel does not try to cram knowledge down the throats of his students but instead he helps them to ask the right questions and seek the answers that will change their lives.Burger eventually leaves the teaching assistant role and travels to Israel where he hopes to complete his studies. But after being there a year Wiesel shows up and they have a conversation that changes Burger's life and makes him a disciple of the wise teacher.I loved the examples from Wiesel's classroom ,but more important I loved the way that Burger explains what he learned and how he learned it under the leadership and discipling of Elie Wiesel.This is a great book for anyone wanting to know three things: 1. How an Orthodox Jew survived the camps of the holocaust. 2. How this intellectual became a professor at the University of Boston 3. How a teacher impacts his students and further disciples those who want to truly grow.Enjoy!
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  • Elinor Bashe
    January 1, 1970
    For those of us who have imagined having the chance to speak with Professor Elie Wiesel, perhaps even to ask him a question about life, Witness offers us an amazing gift. In this riveting work, we hear Professor Wiesel’s words and thoughts not only in the university lecture hall, but also through the 20+ year relationship between him and his student, teaching assistant and friend, Ariel Burger. Whether discussing literature, philosophy or his own life, Professor Wiesel’s ideas about resilience, For those of us who have imagined having the chance to speak with Professor Elie Wiesel, perhaps even to ask him a question about life, Witness offers us an amazing gift. In this riveting work, we hear Professor Wiesel’s words and thoughts not only in the university lecture hall, but also through the 20+ year relationship between him and his student, teaching assistant and friend, Ariel Burger. Whether discussing literature, philosophy or his own life, Professor Wiesel’s ideas about resilience, hope, despair, and the crucial importance of listening to diverse viewpoints are especially urgent right now.Ariel Burger generously shares his own personal and professional struggles so that we may grasp his mentor’s impact on the most personal level, distinct from the global impact that continues to be visible throughout the world. Witness will ensure that this intensely personal impact — felt by those who knew Professor Wiesel — can reach any of us who have the wonderful opportunity to read it.Elinor Bashe, Psy.D.
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  • BOOKLOVER10
    January 1, 1970
    Rabbi Dr. Ariel Burger, who was Elie Wiesel's student, teaching assistant, and friend, discusses his mentor's influence in "Witness: Lessons from Elie Wiesel's Classroom." Burger's sources include entries from a journal he kept; classroom notes; recordings of his conversations with Wiesel; and interviews with Wiesel's students from different countries and diverse backgrounds. Wiesel used literature, humor, music, parables, history, and current events to shed light on such themes as faith, suffer Rabbi Dr. Ariel Burger, who was Elie Wiesel's student, teaching assistant, and friend, discusses his mentor's influence in "Witness: Lessons from Elie Wiesel's Classroom." Burger's sources include entries from a journal he kept; classroom notes; recordings of his conversations with Wiesel; and interviews with Wiesel's students from different countries and diverse backgrounds. Wiesel used literature, humor, music, parables, history, and current events to shed light on such themes as faith, suffering, mysticism, madness, silence, oppression, and the nature of our obligations to one another. Although he was a prominent journalist, humanitarian, and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Wiesel emphasized the importance of everyday activities, including listening to one another attentively, reaching out a helping hand to needy people in our neighborhoods, and being more sensitive to the concerns of our family and friends."Night" (published in 1956), about Wiesel's harrowing experiences as a teenager in Auschwitz and Buchenwald, remains an integral part of high school and college curricula. The slaughter of millions of innocents by the Nazis drove Wiesel to teach lessons based on biblical and Chasidic works, as well as the writings of Brecht, Kafka, Shakespeare, and Sophocles, among others. He used these as springboards to generate discussion about significant moral, ethical, and philosophical principles. Burger describes his own journey as a child of an Orthodox Jewish mother and a non-observant father who separated, and eventually divorced. The author sought advice, support and wisdom from Wiesel over the years, and profited greatly from his association with this caring and gentle individual. In addition, Burger recounts numerous exchanges between Wiesel and his students at Boston University-- where he taught for more than three decades--who wrestled with the difficult texts they were assigned; questioned how one individual can make a dent in the global problems we face; felt despair at examples of unspeakable cruelty and conflict; and wrestled with how to find a vocation that would bring them satisfaction and fulfillment.Elie Wiesel died in 2016. Burger pays tribute to this charismatic educator who said, "As much as you will learn from me, I will learn from you." "I must respect you even if I do not agree with you." "The distance between us is not as great as we think it is." "I always teach with an open heart." "When victims have no voice, I try to lend them mine." This is a profound, lyrical, eloquent, and touching work that inspires us to consider the potential impact each of us can have on our world at a time when we need large doses of kindness and empathy to counteract the pettiness, hatred, and violence that surround us. According to Burger, "As a member of a generation haunted by ghosts," Wiesel believed that we should never become so indifferent or despondent that we shrink from fighting evil and alleviating misery.
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  • Bookreporter.com Biography & Memoir
    January 1, 1970
    The inspirational teaching methods of Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel form the backbone of this important work by his one-time assistant, Ariel Burger, a writer, artist, teacher and rabbi.As a teenager, Burger became intrigued by this great man, who entered the Auschwitz concentration camps at roughly the same age as Burger was when the two first met. The contrast between his rather bland adolescent problems and the horrors that had beset the young Wiesel became a focus; eventually Burger studied The inspirational teaching methods of Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel form the backbone of this important work by his one-time assistant, Ariel Burger, a writer, artist, teacher and rabbi.As a teenager, Burger became intrigued by this great man, who entered the Auschwitz concentration camps at roughly the same age as Burger was when the two first met. The contrast between his rather bland adolescent problems and the horrors that had beset the young Wiesel became a focus; eventually Burger studied with Wiesel and worked as his teaching assistant. In this book, which is semi-autobiographical, Burger recounts events that he observed in Professor Wiesel’s classroom at Boston University.Wiesel, who always considered himself first and foremost a teacher, began each class year by telling his students that they were the best he had ever taught. He set aside time in every class for students to present their intellectual input. He encouraged questions, at times even demanded them. Any question could become an inroad into the experiences of the questioner. When a student from Zimbabwe, whose brother was killed by Robert Mugabe during a protest, responded to Wiesel, he invited her to share her own story.Wiesel was convinced that learning from wisdom sources and from one another is a key to survival. When the SS took him from his home, the 16-year-old --- a very devout student --- had been reading a certain page of scripture. Arriving at an orphanage after the liberation of Buchenwald, he demanded the same scripture, and went to the same page to resume his study. But even more crucial to overcoming hatred and promoting peace, Wiesel taught, is memory. When a student asked, “How can we have faith, especially in God, after what happened?” Wiesel responded, guru-like, “Only a wounded faith is worthy of a silent God.”Interweaving situations in his own life with his long relationship with Wiesel, Burger shows that he himself is more than an academic. Following Wiesel’s example, he embraces individual stories and elicits them from others. Though some might find his personal recollections distracting, they provide the balance needed so that Wiesel and his protégé will be seen as human, a view that the professor doubtless would have supported. Burger was with his teacher up until a few days before his death, at the request of family, who felt that such visits made the old man happy.Through his admiring lens, Burger conveys the absolute respect for humanity that characterized Wiesel’s philosophy and contributed to his many awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize. Wiesel said that he attended Adolf Eichmann’s trial, assuming he would be viewing a monster, but was only able to see him as a person: “We must always remember that a single life is worth more than all the words that have been written about life.”Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott
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  • Isaiah
    January 1, 1970
    To see more reviews check out MI Book Reviews.I got an ARC of this book.I read Night when I was in middle school. One of the other boys on the bus was reading it and let me borrow it. I read it in a single sitting. It is a book I haven't forgotten yet. I doubt I ever will. This book follows like Tuesdays with Morrie. Except this book is a bit less accessible. The main chunk of the book takes place in a grad school classroom. Many people never step foot in grad school. So that alone can be off pu To see more reviews check out MI Book Reviews.I got an ARC of this book.I read Night when I was in middle school. One of the other boys on the bus was reading it and let me borrow it. I read it in a single sitting. It is a book I haven't forgotten yet. I doubt I ever will. This book follows like Tuesdays with Morrie. Except this book is a bit less accessible. The main chunk of the book takes place in a grad school classroom. Many people never step foot in grad school. So that alone can be off putting for some readers, but my biggest issue is that there was constant references to what the students were reading. They don't read things that most people will read. Some of the readings were things that at least are common themes and people know about them like Romeo and Juliet, but then there were long discussions of Kafka and other more advanced reads than the people I know who would like this sort of book would read for fun. So the discussions can be alienating, despite how amazing they were.  There are a ton of references to Jewish traditions, which is to be expected. However they almost all focus on the author having no clue what he wants to do. He studies for over a decade in school while having no direction. It felt like this book was a masturbatory exercise in a "I'm special and unique. I wrote a book about someone else who was famous, but it really is about me". I had a bad taste in my mouth for a good chunk of the book because of this seemingly using someone else's amazing work in the world to tell the story of someone who seemingly has done nothing and is generally pretty much not someone I would want in my life (almost all of that is based on how he never seems to be with his family and he admits things like that near the end, so my opinion of him changes a bit to indifference). The ideas that this book is able to convey and how important the messages are feel bogged down with a story of a man trying to find his own way. I can very mildly see why this is, but not enough to justify why the book included the long sections of really plain "woe is me" type of story the author has. So, the passages in the classroom are beyond remarkable and I will never forget them. I needed more of those. If this book was solely those discussions this would be a thirty star book. Instead it is three, because all of the amazing lessons are bogged down with stories that I have no reason to care about and despite trying, just couldn't get into to. The sections in the classroom read so beautifully and were tremendously important messages to spread. I just wish that was more of the focus of the book.
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  • Laurie's Lit Picks
    January 1, 1970
    Having taught Night, Elie Wiesel's first book chronicling his horrific time in Auschwitz, for many years as a high school literature teacher, I could not wait to get this book into my hands. Ariel Burger was Wiesel's student for more than two decades and had a front row view of his teacher: his philosophies, his faith, and his extraordinary ability to open a classroom wide for his students. What I would have given to be a member of one of Professor Wiesel's classes - what a gift he was to this w Having taught Night, Elie Wiesel's first book chronicling his horrific time in Auschwitz, for many years as a high school literature teacher, I could not wait to get this book into my hands. Ariel Burger was Wiesel's student for more than two decades and had a front row view of his teacher: his philosophies, his faith, and his extraordinary ability to open a classroom wide for his students. What I would have given to be a member of one of Professor Wiesel's classes - what a gift he was to this world. Admittedly, at times I got a bit bogged down in the story of Burger's search for his life direction, but I could understand those diversions better as the ending developed. Ariel Burger did outstanding research, and gave us a very personal look at this heroic man, giving him some feet of clay and reminding us that Wiesel was human. This book is a 'must-read,' 'must-have,' in a teacher's hands who usesNight in their classroom, as well as anyone who wants to see the power of learning, the power of love through forgiveness, and the power of the search for meaning through the questioning of life.
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  • Jonathan
    January 1, 1970
    I doubt any review I provide about this book will do it justice, but what I will say is that I was impressed by the way Ariel Burger organized it. Reading it, I felt like I was in the same classroom as Elie Wiesel's students, absorbing his wisdom. Memory, Otherness, and Beyond Words are chapters that I will definitely return to for their insight into remembering the past, resolving conflict and producing art even when the subject may be too painful or complex to describe. I also enjoyed how Burg I doubt any review I provide about this book will do it justice, but what I will say is that I was impressed by the way Ariel Burger organized it. Reading it, I felt like I was in the same classroom as Elie Wiesel's students, absorbing his wisdom. Memory, Otherness, and Beyond Words are chapters that I will definitely return to for their insight into remembering the past, resolving conflict and producing art even when the subject may be too painful or complex to describe. I also enjoyed how Burger included his own personal journey and how it progressed vis-a-vis his relationship with Wiesel. Like the Hasidic masters described in the book, Burger treats Wiesel with reverence, but mistakenly leaves out criticism and questioning of his teachings and views, such as his strong support for Israel. Perhaps this is asking too much, however.
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  • Beth
    January 1, 1970
    Witness by Ariel Burger looks closely at Elie Wiesel and his teaching. Burger was a teaching assistant and friend to Wiesel and he writes this book with a loving hand and shares the brilliance of Wiesel in a way that is accessible and enlightening.It is easy to think of Wiesel as the Holocaust Survivor, or as the author of Night, but Witness allows us to see Wiesel the man and intellectual. He is a multi-faceted man and always explored notions of morality and ethics. This book devotes chapters t Witness by Ariel Burger looks closely at Elie Wiesel and his teaching. Burger was a teaching assistant and friend to Wiesel and he writes this book with a loving hand and shares the brilliance of Wiesel in a way that is accessible and enlightening.It is easy to think of Wiesel as the Holocaust Survivor, or as the author of Night, but Witness allows us to see Wiesel the man and intellectual. He is a multi-faceted man and always explored notions of morality and ethics. This book devotes chapters to specific areas of Wiesel's work such as activism, art, religion, belief and morality. It is helpful to be able to have the information presented in this fashion as it makes the information easy to find. I am delighted to tell you that as a historian and librarian this book is an important addition to the literature on Elie Wiesel.
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  • Joanne Tombrakos
    January 1, 1970
    It's rare when a book captivates me so much that I can't put it down, but that is what happened when I was fortunate enough to receive an advance copy of Witness. Ariel Burger takes us inside the classroom of Elie Wiesel, exquisitely weaving his own journey with the lessons he learned as Wiesel's student. At a time when it seems we are no longer talking to each other, this book is exactly what the world needs to get back into conversation and remember that we are more alike than we are different It's rare when a book captivates me so much that I can't put it down, but that is what happened when I was fortunate enough to receive an advance copy of Witness. Ariel Burger takes us inside the classroom of Elie Wiesel, exquisitely weaving his own journey with the lessons he learned as Wiesel's student. At a time when it seems we are no longer talking to each other, this book is exactly what the world needs to get back into conversation and remember that we are more alike than we are different.
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  • Justin
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book, for free, in exchange for an honest review.I liked the coverage of Elie Wiesel and after reading this book I have a deep respect for him and his ideas. On the other hand, this book meanders away from Elie's teachings for much of the book. Instead of talking directly about Elie's philosophy there is a great deal of meanderings and backstory that talk a bit too much about the author and the class she shared with Elie. While this could certainly build the story arc for some re I received this book, for free, in exchange for an honest review.I liked the coverage of Elie Wiesel and after reading this book I have a deep respect for him and his ideas. On the other hand, this book meanders away from Elie's teachings for much of the book. Instead of talking directly about Elie's philosophy there is a great deal of meanderings and backstory that talk a bit too much about the author and the class she shared with Elie. While this could certainly build the story arc for some readers it felt like a suboptimal way to read Elie.
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  • Joseph Meszler
    January 1, 1970
    An important and heart-warming book about Wiesel's effects on his students. Very worthwhile to see the man beyond just reading "Night." We should also understand Wiesel as a teacher and a role model.
  • Alicia Herrington
    January 1, 1970
    Librarian: This is a book that I really hope we librarians can succeed at getting into the hands of readers. In an age of an ever increasing divide between people, this book serves as a reminder of the fact that as different as we all are, we are also the same. It offers all sorts of life lessons from a man who was one of the finest minds, and hearts of the last century. Unfortunately I feel like this book may not circulate as well as it deserves to. It just feels to niche. We'll have to talk th Librarian: This is a book that I really hope we librarians can succeed at getting into the hands of readers. In an age of an ever increasing divide between people, this book serves as a reminder of the fact that as different as we all are, we are also the same. It offers all sorts of life lessons from a man who was one of the finest minds, and hearts of the last century. Unfortunately I feel like this book may not circulate as well as it deserves to. It just feels to niche. We'll have to talk this one up, if we want it to get the circus it deserves.Reader: I loved this book. The perspective it provided on such a well known figure was so illuminating. It was fascinating to see Wiesel from the perspective of someone who studied under him, and worked with him over the period of several years. The stories he shared were both entertaining and educational. Highly recommend.
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  • Ariel Burger
    January 1, 1970
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