In the vein of Tuesdays with Morrie, a devoted protégé and friend of one of the world's great thinkers takes us into the sacred space of the classroom, showing Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Elie Wiesel not only as an extraordinary human being, but as a master teacher.
...a beautiful, deeply moving memoir ... A central question of Witness is whether the experience of being a witness can be transferred to another person ... But this complex, multilayered book asks many more questions, such as: What does it mean to be a teacher? What does it mean to be a student? How can you lead a moral life? ... Burger gives us a deeper glimpse through private conversations into Wiesel’s self-doubt and his concern that words fail and understandings are flimsy ... Wiesel’s weariness is haunting, terrifying and timely ... But Burger’s honest depiction of doubt—both Wiesel’s and his own—is a great strength of this memoir, and its constant concern with the limited power of the individual is timeless. While Wiesel privately worried about the power of one person’s words in the face of hatred, this book of questions and memories makes a case for the power of teaching, and for words as perhaps the ultimate teachers of how to live.
Burger, a compassionate heart, fiery soul, and sharp religious mind in his own right, presents a personal side of Wiesel that we normally didn’t see. This is the humane Wiesel, the Wiesel who nurtured students and who shook the foundations to demand more decency in society ... This essential book allows readers to gain a closer look at Elie Wiesel as a scholar, a counselor, and a thinker. We all know Wiesel the Activist who spent his life working for people suffering everywhere to protest injustice and oppression and to bear 'witness,' but there are other more personal dimensions to this story as well. Now we can see Wiesel the Soul. May we continue to be inspired by the life and teachings of Elie Wiesel. We owe Rabbi Dr. Ariel Burger our gratitude for this special opportunity.
Readers who have trouble accepting the Hasidic way of life, and the unending rituals of learning among men of the Hasidic tradition, may find the accounts of Burger’s unrelenting psychological and intellectual struggles a distraction if not at times an unwanted interruption. But he has done a great service in bearing witness himself to the work and life of a great and humble man, who would probably reject the notion that he was a learned master, a legendary philosopher, and perhaps what one might call an intellectual philanthropist ... Wiesel was all this and more. We are lucky to have been in his classroom and to be privy to his memories, thoughts and wisdom through this important and moving memoir.